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House nod on amnesty for ex-rebels 'significant step' for peace

By Priam Nepomuceno / Philippine News Agency

Defense Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu (File photo)

MANILA – An official of the Department of National Defense (DND) said the House of Representatives' concurrence to President Rodrigo R. Duterte's amnesty proclamations for former members of communist terrorist groups is a significant step in the country's toward genuine reconciliation and peace.

Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu, who is also head of the Task Force Balik-Loob and the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and Amnesty Program (EAP) Cluster under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), said the support from Congress will help them in their task of assisting the former CTG members.

"With the commitment of the national government and advocated by President Rodrigo Duterte himself, former rebels who had decided to turn their backs on the life of violence and choose peace have been, and will be, given a second chance for a better life with their families," Mapagu said in a statement on Thursday night.

He also added that the Task Force Balik-Loob and the EAP Cluster will continue to strive to provide all the support necessary for those who decided to return to the fold of the law.

"More than the financial and material benefits under the E-CLIP, it is more essential to provide our former rebels with understanding and support as they restart their lives anew,” he said.

Mapagu also thanked lawmakers for the passage of House Concurrent Resolution Number 15, concurring with Proclamation No. 1093 which grants amnesty to former rebels last May 19.

He also lauded the leadership of the House of Representatives for their favorable action on the President's amnesty proclamation last February 5.

"We thank the leadership of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco as well as the House Committee on Justice led by Cong. Vicente Veloso III and the House Committee on National Defense and Security led by Cong. Raul Tupas, for the immediate and favorable action on the amnesty proclamations issued by the President last February 05, 2021," he added.

In his proclamations, Duterte said the government’s peace policy is to nurture a climate conducive for peace, as well as to implement programs for reconciliation and reintegration of rebels into mainstream society.

The proclamations also said the grant of amnesty in favor of the former rebels will “promote an atmosphere conducive to the attainment of a just, comprehensive, and enduring equanimity.”

The measure is also in line with the government’s call for peace, unity, and reconciliation to bring closure to past enmity, rancor, and bitterness that has stymied lasting amity among Filipinos.

"We are hoping that as the concurrent resolutions are deliberated in the Senate, the proclamation granting amnesty for the former rebels will also be supported and passed as well. This is a crucial step and we have full confidence that our Senators recognize the merit and importance of this measure in the healing and reconciliation process for our former rebels who were led astray by the CTG," Mapagu said. (PNA)



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