MANILA (UPDATED) - The House of Representatives has concurred with President Rodrigo Duterte's amnesty proclamation for rebel groups in successive separate votes during the plenary session Wednesday.
The lower chamber on Wednesday adopted House Concurrent Resolution Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 15, all of which concur with Presidential Proclamation Nos. 1090, 1091, 1092 and 1093 respectively.
Under the resolutions, amnesty will be granted 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 former rebels of communist terrorist groups (CTG) who have committed crimes under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) or special penal laws in pursuit of their political beliefs.
Members of the Makabayan bloc voted against HCR 15, which pardons former communist rebels, over concerns that the resolution red-tags its beneficiaries.
"We find it extremely strange that among the House concurrent resolutions being adopted, HCR 15 refers to a party that is non-existent, fictional, and pandering to terror-tagging being perpetrated by the Duterte administration. HCR 15 refers to former rebels of 'communist terrorist group' when such term is merely coined by the state security forces," Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas said.
"How can the Duterte administration grant amnesty to a fictional entity which it created?"
ACT Teachers Representatives France Castro called the resolution a "show" and "foolery".
"Isa na naman itong effort para sa co-optation, kahungkagan, at palabas lamang," she said.
House Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez, meanwhile, said the adoption of the four resolutions granting amnesty is a step closer tp the full implementation of Duterte’s program of reintegrating them into civilian life.
Romualdez, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, and House Minority Leader and Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano are the principal authors of the measures.
Duterte earlier issued Proclamation Nos. 1090, 1091, 1092, and 1093 last February 5, 2021.
Under Section 19, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, the President is allowed to grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress.
Romualdez’s office explained that 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.
“Take note though that the amnesty does not cover common crimes such as 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,” Romualdez said.
The proclamations state that 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.”
After both chambers of Congress concur with the proclamations, an Amnesty Commission will be created to review the applications.
Beneficiaries of the amnesty proclamation may file their application with the Commission within one year from the effectivity of the proclamation.