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NTF-ELCAC recommends amnesty offer for communist rebels

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is strongly recommending to President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. the offering of amnesty to address the communist insurgency.

NTF-ELCAC arrived at the decision on Friday after its first executive committee meeting under the Marcos administration.

"The task force strongly recommends the need for offering an amnesty to prevent the resurgence of the communist terrorist groups, especially in geographically, challenged, isolated, and disadvantaged areas,” the group said in a statement.

National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos said the declaration of amnesty and the possible revival of peace talks would depend on Marcos' decision.

"That is the decision that the president of the republic will make," she said at a press conference when asked if they would also be eyeing the revival of peace talks with communist rebels.

"And if you will notice in the statement, our statement really is recommending to the President because it is the President who will make the ultimate decision in regard to the amnesty declaration," Carlos added.

In February 2021, then President Rodrigo Duterte issued four proclamations granting amnesty to members of rebel organizations and communist groups who committed crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code and Special Penal Laws in connection with their political beliefs.

The amnesty, outlined in Presidential Proclamations 1090, 1091, 1092 and 1093, covered members of  communist groups, Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The grant of amnesty requires admission of guilt on the part of beneficiaries and the concurrence of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The NTF-ELCAC, which was created during the Duterte administration, vowed to continue its efforts to ensure peace and development for Filipinos.

It also suggested reaffirming the importance of the whole-of-nation approach in tackling the root causes of the armed conflict. 

“Meron namang direktiba ang Pangulo na ipagpatuloy natin itong NTF-ELCAC (The President has a directive to maintain the NTF-ELCAC),” Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. said. 

At the first executive committee meeting, Faustino said they learned about the current status of insurgency issues. 

He denied that the NTF-ELCAC had engaged in "red-tagging," saying that it was never a policy. He said the information on personalities linked to the insurgency came from the communist group.

“Ito po ay hindi nanggaling sa amin, ito ay nanggaling sa kabilang grupo (It did not come from us, it came from the other group),” Faustino said. —KBK/VBL, GMA News