Press Release
September 9, 2007


Amnesty is not a political weapon. The Arroyo Administration should not use amnesty for self-serving and propaganda purposes. Even before Congress can consider Presidential Proclamation 1377 of Mrs. Arroyo, first we must undertake a review of previous amnesty proclamations, the performance of previous agencies tasked to handle it, especially the use of funds. As Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation, I have filed Senate Resolution no. 130 for this purpose.

Beginning with the limited amnesties at the height of the Hukbalahap rebellion of the 1940s and 1950s, the Philippines has had a long history of amnesty programs. During the presidency of Fidel V. Ramos, there were at least five Presidential Proclamations (10, 10-A, 347, 348 and 723) covering communist groups, military rebels and Muslim secessionist rebels, even soldiers and policemen involved in counterinsurgency operations.

To be effective and workable in bringing about a true and lasting peace, amnesty requires the active cooperation of the armed groups to address the basic causes that pushed them to take up arms. Amnesty is not a separate or isolated act that can be divorced from the process of negotiation or seen as a mere palliative to reduce violence or diminish rebel ranks. It is an integral component of the larger peace process that in most successful cases has been the product or outcome of a negotiated political settlement pegged on a principled and peaceful resolution of the internal armed conflict - "with neither blame nor surrender, but with dignity for all concerned."

If the intention of Mrs. Arroyo and her National Security Adviser is merely to use amnesty for political propaganda and not for a peaceful and principled resolution of the armed conflict, Congress should reject this farce.###

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