The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) said the creation of the National Amnesty Commission (NCA) is crucial to encouraging rebels to embrace the constitutional peace process. It will also help the government address the root causes of armed conflict, stressed OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.
Galvez recalled his own experience as a young military officer who joined the December 1989 coup attempt against then president Corazon Aquino’s government. He was among those granted amnesty by former President Fidel V Ramos (FVR) in 1996, after having spent years in a detention center in Fort Bonifacio along with fellow military rebels, some of them from his 1985 class at the Philippine Military Academy.
“I will forever be grateful to FVR because he gave me and my fellow officers a second chance in life,” said Galvez. “It was through that amnesty proclamation that I was able to revive my military service and go on to become the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ chief of staff.”
Galvez said this was the reason the OPAPRU under his leadership has been pushing for the formal establishment of the NAC, anchored on Executive Order No. 125 issued by former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in February 2021.
Aside from EO 125, Duterte also issued Presidential Proclamation Nos. 1090, 1091, 1092, and 1093, which granted amnesty to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG) or KAPATIRAN, and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), respectively, who committed crimes in the course of their armed struggle.
The proposal to formally establish the NAC is a manifestation that the national government is determined to eliminate the roots of armed conflict in the country and to “provide a better life for the former combatants,” said Galvez.
“With the creation of the NAC, we hope to provide former rebels an opportunity to fully reintegrate themselves into mainstream society as peaceful, productive and law-abiding individuals,” he added.
Remembering FVR’s legacy on amnesty, peace
Galvez also paid tribute to Ramos, saying that the former president left a strong legacy with his amnesty program and his work to achieve long-lasting peace in the Philippines.
“What made former President Ramos remarkable as a leader was his invaluable contribution to the comprehensive Philippine peace process. Even though he was a military man, peace was an integral part of his DNA,” Galvez said.
Ramos was a statesman “who had a very good appreciation” of the peace process, according to Galvez. “He knew that peace and development initiatives had to be implemented simultaneously. This mindset would become the hallmark of his administration.”
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