, SEPTEMBER 8, 2007 (STAR) By Marvin Sy - President Arroyo has signed the amnesty proclamation for the members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA), National Democratic Front (NDF) and other communist rebel groups.

Mrs. Arroyo signed Presidential Proclamation No. 1377 just before she left for Sydney, Australia to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference Leaders’ Summit last Thursday.

Based on the proclamation, the amnesty would cover “the crime of rebellion and all other crimes included therein or incident thereto in pursuit of political beliefs as defined by jurisprudence, whether punishable under the Revised Penal Code or special laws.”

The amnesty would not cover crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom and trafficking of illegal drugs and other crimes for personal ends and violations of international law or convention and protocols “even if alleged to have been committed in pursuit of political beliefs.”

Any member of the CPP-NPA-NDF and other communist rebel groups who have committed any of the acts covered by the proclamation, including those who have been detained, charged and convicted, may apply for amnesty.

For those who were convicted already, they may benefit from a grant of amnesty by the restoration of the applicants’ civil or political rights only.

The crimes for which amnesty may be granted must have been committed on or before the date of effectivity of the proclamation.

Those who have already applied for amnesty under previous proclamations but whose applications were not considered for having been made outside the reglementary period for filing would also be allowed to apply under the new proclamation.

If ever the applicants have firearms, they must turn these over within 30 days from the filing of their application for amnesty. This way, they would not be liable for illegal possession of firearms.

An applicant or amnesty grantee found to have illegal possession of firearms could result in a denial or revocation of the amnesty.

The Provincial or City Peace and Order Council Amnesty Centers would issue to applicants for amnesty, except those who are detained, a safe conduct pass so that they would not be subjected to warrantless arrests.

The proclamation provided that the application for the grant of amnesty must be filed within six months from the effectivity of the proclamation.

Though the proclamation has already been signed, it must still be transmitted to Congress for concurrence as provided for under the law.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said that the OPAPP as the head of the National Committee on Social Integration is currently working on the implementing rules and regulations for the amnesty program.

Dureza declined to name specific individuals who may be covered by the amnesty, such as CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo.

Dureza was on his way back to Manila from Brussels where he briefed the Philippine ambassadors based in Europe on the latest developments in the Philippines.

He said that a total of 11 Philippine ambassadors were briefed on issues such as the amnesty proclamation, the Human Security Act, updates on the peace process and the arrest of Sison in the Netherlands.

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis accompanied him on the trip.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved