Año urges rebels to surrender, avail themselves of amnesty program

MANILA. National Security Adviser Eduardo Año.
MANILA. National Security Adviser Eduardo Año.File photo

NATIONAL Security Adviser Eduardo Año urged all rebel groups in the country on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, to consider the path of peace and reconciliation by availing themselves of the government’s amnesty program.

In a statement, Año said the National Amnesty Commission is already accepting applications for amnesty following the concurrence of the amnesty proclamation of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. by the Congress.

“This is a significant development and a game changer in ending the more than 50-year communist armed conflict in the country,” said Año.

Año, a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said the amnesty program opens the door to opportunities for all NPA combatants to renew their lives, reintegrate into the mainstream society, and build a peaceful and brighter future not only for themselves but especially for their families.

“We encourage all the remaining active members of the armed rebel groups to seize and embrace this chance for reconciliation and renewal of hope as we all work together towards lasting peace and development,” he added.

Earlier, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said that over 15,000 rebels have surrendered to the government from 2022 to 2023, availing the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (Eclip), a scheme that promotes reconciliation in a non-violent manner, which aims to provide package of assistance to former rebels and former violent extremists.

The NSC said that from January to March, 422 members of the New People’s Army have surrendered.

Año said the NPA was left with 11 weakened guerilla fronts, in which five were in Luzon, three in Visayas and three in Mindanao.

He said these gains of the government campaign against insurgency marks a major success in the integration of former rebels into mainstream communities.

“The NTF-Elcac (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) is on track to dismantle all remaining weakened guerilla fronts before the end of the year,” he said, noting that the regions of Ilocos, Zamboanga Peninsula and Davao have already been declared as insurgency-free.

“With the imminent collapse of the Communist movement, now is the time for them to lay down their arms and rejoin mainstream society. Choosing to apply for amnesty by laying down arms and returning to the fold of the law is in itself an act of courage that stands to benefit not only former rebels individually, but also contributes to the healing, progress, and stability of our country,” he added. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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