MANILA - Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has filed a bill seeking to grant amnesty to communist rebels and other groups involved in past political conflicts.
Arroyo, whose government performance was widely criticized by leftist insurgents, said political rebels should be integrated in society in order to bring peace in the country.
In the explanatory note of Arroyo's House Bill 490 , she said: "Accepting rebels back into the folds of the law through amnesty and eventually providing them access to the government's existing socio-economic services are essential to attaining peace and reconciliation in the country."
"An amnesty program is an integral component of the Duterte government's comprehensive peace efforts. There is an urgent need and expressed desire to extend amnesty to members of the CPP-NPA -NDF and other individuals and groups involved in past political conflicts as an instrument of reconciliation and as a path for their return to a peaceful, democratic and pluralistic society," she added.
Arroyo's amnesty proposal covers the crime of rebellion and all other crimes committed in pursuit of political beliefs, whether punishable under the Revised Penal Code or special laws.
The bill expressly excludes the crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom, use and trafficking of illegal drugs and violations of international law or convention and protocols.
Subject to conditions, the proposed amnesty may be available to members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), National Democratic Front (NDF), New Peopl's Army and other groups involved in past political conflicts.
Qualified applicants will be issued a certificate of amnesty by the National Committee on Social Integration.
The amnesty will only cover crimes committed before the law took effect.
Arroyo is a political ally of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte on Monday declared a unilateral ceasefire with leftist rebels as part of his bid to end Asia's longest running Maoist insurgency.
The CPP-NPA-NDF is willing to reciprocate the move, but it wants to see the actual content of the ceasefire declaration, the actual withdrawal of troops; and if possible, have political detainees released along with the ceasefire declaration.
The administration is forging a peace deal with communist rebels, with formal talks set to begin on August 20.