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Romualdez assures swift amnesty for rebs

Martin Romualdez
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep Martin Romualdez: “We are one with President Rody Duterte’s efforts to attain peace and reconciliation in the country.” Photo by VER NOVENO

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez on Sunday assured the swift adoption of four concurrent resolutions granting amnesty to members of four rebel groups in support of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s efforts for the country to attain peace and stability. Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Romualdez and House Minority Leader and Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano have filed the resolutions which were jointly referred to the House committees on justice and national defense last Tuesday.

House Concurrent Resolution Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 15 respectively support the grant of amnesty to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB), and the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG).

“We are one with President Rody Duterte’s efforts to attain peace and reconciliation in the country. We recognize this crucial need to accept the request of former combatants for amnesty so we could further stabilize our country and move towards healing, reconciliation, and reintegration,” Romualdez said.

“We commit that the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, will work towards the timely adoption of these amnesty resolutions in line with the government’s peace program,” added Romualdez, chair of the House Committee on Rules.

Last February 5, 2021, Duterte issued Proclamation Nos. 1090, 1091, 1092, and 1093 granting amnesty to members of the MILF, MNLF, MILF, RPMP-RPA-ABB, and CTG who have committed crimes under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) or special penal laws in pursuit of their political beliefs.

Section 19, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution allows the President to grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress.

The grant of amnesty will extinguish any criminal liability for acts committed in pursuit of political beliefs, without prejudice to the grantee’s civil liability for injuries or damages caused to private persons whose right to be indemnified is fully recognized herein.

It will also restore the grantee’s civil or political rights suspended or lost by virtue of criminal conviction.

“At a difficult time like this, promoting an atmosphere conducive to the attainment of a just, comprehensive and enduring equanimity is a must as the government also works towards improving basic social services and progress,” said Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) and the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa).

Romualdez noted that the amnesty granted under the Proclamations will not cover kidnap for ransom, massacre, rape, terrorism and other crimes committed against chastity as defined in the RPC as amended; crimes committed for personal ends; violation of RA No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002; grave violations of the Geneva Convention of 1949; and those identified by the United Nations as crimes that can never be amnestied such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, enforced disappearances and other gross violations of human rights.

Under the Proclamations, the clause “crimes committed in pursuit of a political belief” shall include, but shall not be limited to, “acts and omissions performed or undertaken as part of a plan, program of action or strategy decided by the rebel leadership to overthrow and replace the National Government, any of its political subdivisions, or duly constituted authority, with or without the use of arms,” Romualdez added.

Romualdez added that once both Houses of Congress concur with the Proclamations, an Amnesty Commission will be created to review the applications. Members of the said groups may file their application with the Commission within one year from the effectivity of the Proclamation.