By Ali G. Macabalang
Prospects for pardon of past political crimes among Moro revolutionary forces now rallying peace tracks with the government have brightened with the upcoming creation of a national amnesty body.
President Rodrigo Duterte has reportedly issued an executive order, although not yet released publicly, creating a seven-member National Amnesty Commission in charge of processing amnesty applications in relation to amnesty proclamations.
The Commission will not only cover members and leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but also communist insurgents opting to lay down their arms and start peaceful life, according to published report attributed to Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.
Granting amnesty is part of the Philippine government’s agreements with the two main Moro revolutionary fronts. But the process has yet to be formalized and implemented.
MILF Chairman Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim , for instance, has revealed in a podcast with a Manila media network recently that some of his comrades inclined to join future elections members are handicapped by the pendency of political and even criminal suits lodged against them by authorities.
Ebrahim, now chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), admitted the legal handicap as one of reasons the MILF-led transitional government has called for a postponement of the 2022 first election for 80 members of the regional parliament.
MNLF founding Chairman Nur Misuari has been appointed by President Duterte as envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with a concurrent temporary pardon of criminal cases filed against him by national and local authorities.
“The granting of amnesty sends a clear and strong message that the government understands the root causes of the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao, and is giving these former combatants the chance for a fresh start,” the Rappler online media quoted Sec. Galvez as saying in a statement on February 10.
“With the establishment of the National Amnesty Commission, these former rebels will be able to make the complete transition to peaceful, law-abiding and productive citizens,” added Galvez, who himself underwent an amnesty process under the Ramos administration for his participation in the 1986 People’s Power revolution.
Who gets amnesty?
Galvez said amnesty applications in the new commission will covers the MILF, MNLF, Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front, Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army, Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group or KAPATIRAN.
Amnesty proclamations that require the concurrence of lawmakers have already been sent to Congress, Rappler quoted Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque as announcing on Monday.
Members of the amnesty commission
The commission will be composed of a chairperson, two regular members, and four ex-officio members: named the Defense secretary, Justice Secretary, Interior Secretary, and Presidential Peace Adviser.
Past presidents have taken the same route to entice members of rebel groups to give up armed struggle. AGM