The general amnesty proposal and the peace talk overtures come in just a short whiff of time before the implementation of the Human Security Act (HSA), also known as the Anti-Terrorism Law.
BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Vol. VII, No. 22, July 8-14, 2007
Going by the recent statements of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Rep. Jose de Venecia, it would seem that the scuttled peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are to be given another go, or are to be set “back on track,” to use a term from the executive secretary.
In mid-June, De Venecia disclosed that Malacañang is putting together a general amnesty for communist, Moro, and military dissidents. Some two weeks later, Ermita himself was cited by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as having confirmed De Venecia’s revelation.
Earlier this month, De Venecia went further and said in meetings with European parliamentary leaders in Frankfurt and Strasbourg that the Arroyo government is willing to “activate” the peace talks if the NDFP declares a nationwide ceasefire.
“Our goal is to put an end to the conflict so that we can start to improve the lives of the combatants and launch the full-scale economic development of the country that would leave no one behind,” De Venecia said.
But the general amnesty proposal and the peace talk overtures come in just a short whiff of time before the implementation of the Human Security Act (HSA), also known as the Anti-Terrorism Law.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) – which are both represented in the NDFP – are included in the U.S. Department of State’s list of “foreign terrorist organizations.” NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison is likewise listed as a “terrorist” by the U.S. Department of State and the European Union.
The HSA classifies as “acts of terrorism” the crimes of rebellion, insurrection, and coup d’ etat, which are violations of Art. 134 of the Revised Penal Code.
Even without the “terrorist” listing, it has been common for persons accused by the government of being members of the CPP-NPA to be charged with rebellion or insurrection. The HSA provisions defining “terrorism” effectively places the “terror” tag on the forehead of anyone accused of committing rebellion or insurrection – and could lead to the CPP-NPA’s proscription as a “terrorist” organization.
The said law was passed earlier this year and is set to take effect on July 13. Malacañang, however, has hinted at possibilities of delay in the HSA’s implementation, citing the need to finalize its implementing rules and regulations. Based on information from Malacañang insiders, the HSA may take effect either in August or even in September.
Bulatlat interviewed Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, on Malacañang’s general amnesty proposal and peace talks overtures, in the context of the impending implementation of the HSA. Below is the full text of the interview:
Why do you think is the Arroyo government offering amnesty just when the HSA is set to be implemented soon? Do you see something more to this than consideration for the “legacy” that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants to leave?
No, this offer of amnesty has nothing to do with any concern of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo about her “legacy.” It is part of her desperate efforts for political survival. It is calculated to lay the ground for claiming that the revolutionary forces refused the offer of amnesty and for escalating human rights violations.
I think the Arroyo regime is offering amnesty because it wants the military rebels to vow their allegiance to the regime. In this way, it hopes to calm down the wide and growing resentment and dissatisfaction within the regime’s military and police forces because of the blatant involvement of top generals and officers in electoral fraud, corruption, abuses against rank and file soldiers, and extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
The offer of amnesty is not really directed at revolutionaries who have rightfully rejected it.