Anti-insurgency task force recommends amnesty for communist rebels

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 14) — The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict on Friday recommended giving amnesty to communist rebels.

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

“The executive committee recommends reaffirming the importance of the whole-of-nation approach in tackling the root causes of the armed conflict,” the task force added.

However, there were no other details provided regarding the recommended amnesty.

“We don’t know yet the nitty gritty of this recommendation. So let us just leave it at that,” said National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos in a press briefing.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez said the government is leaning toward continuing localized peace talks instead of reviving the national peace process with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

“Ongoing pa rin po ang peace talks, pero ginawa natin, ni-localize natin,” said Galvez.

[Translation: The peace talks are still ongoing, but we localized them.]

“Nakita namin, based sa assessment namin, within the more than 50 years na negotiation natin, wala tayong nakuhang maganda sa national peace talks,” he added.

[Translation: Based on our assessment, within more than 50 years of our negotiation, we did not get anything good out of national peace talks.]

For its part, the CPP expressed doubts the government really intends to bring peace during negotiations.

"Kung totoong 'peace' ang gusto, dapat lutasin ang ugat ng paghihirap ng masa. Pero itong 'localized peace talks,' ang gusto lang ay tumigil ang masa sa paglaban upang bigyang-daan ang mga 'development projects' na hindi naman pag-unlad ang dala kundi lalong pagdurusa," said CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena in a statement sent to CNN Philippines.

[Translation: If they really want 'peace,' they should address the root cause of poverty. In these 'localized peace talks,' they just want to prevent the masses from standing up to give way to these 'development projects' which would only bring suffering instead of development.]

Former President Rodrigo Duterte initiated peace talks with the communist group in the first year of his presidency, but terminated it in November 2017 for what he said was a “lack of accountability” from the rebels for the crimes they committed.

But CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison earlier said the organization is not closing its doors on engaging in peace talks with the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Carlos said the declaration of amnesty and the revival of peace talks would depend on whatever will be President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.’s decision.