DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 October) – A draft of the amnesty proclamation for 434 detained leaders and alleged members of the National Democratic Front (NDF) was submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte on September 27, the government peace panel said in a press release from Oslo.
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) quoted government peace panel member Angela Librado-Trinidad as saying the proposed amnesty covers the NDF consultants who have been freed on bail to participate in the peace negotiations and other members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA).
The draft was finalized after now NDF chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili submitted on September 15 the list of detained NDF members who should be included in the amnesty, Librado said.
“We have in our possession a stamped receipt of our endorsement letter together with the draft proclamation. It was received by the Office of the Executive Secretary,” the press release quoted Librado as saying at the start of the talks on Thursday.
The list includes 81 detained rebels whom the NDF wants released based on humanitarian grounds.
Labor Secretary Silvestre ‘Bebot’ Bello III, concurrent chair of the government peace panel, said the release of the detained rebels would just be a matter of time, as he emphasized that there is “no reason why we cannot do it the way we are accelerating the peace process.”
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said they understand the concerns raised by the NDF panel regarding the detention of their members but he explained that the amnesty will have to be approved by Congress even if President Duterte signs it.
Librado added the GRP will reconstitute the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance, and Pardon (PCBREP) “to facilitate the immediate release of prisoners on humanitarian grounds.”
“The guidelines have already been signed by the Secretaries of the three departments (Departments of Justice, Defense, and Interior and Local Government) and is on its way to the office of the President for review and signing,” she said.
Both panels would be discussing substantive agreements on socio-economic reforms (CASER), political and constitutional reforms (PCR) and end of hostilities/disposition of forces (EOH-DOF) in the second round of peace negotiations.
Also, the GRP and NDF peace panels earlier agreed to expedite the approval of CASER, considered as the “heart and soul” of the peace process. Both parties agreed in the first round of talks in August, to complete it within six months or by February 2017. (Antonio L. Colina IV/ MindaNews)