TAGBILARAN, Bohol — Officials here are pushing for an amnesty program for communist rebels to completely rid the province of insurgency, a move welcomed by Malacañang.
A resolution by the provincial government on the call for amnesty will be presented before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the ongoing Local Peace and Security Assembly at the Bohol Tropics Resort in this city, Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado said.
Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the executive would support the move.
“The proposal of Governor Aumentado is based on a very successful experiment at the local level and it is worth considering,” he told reporters in an interview.
In a separate news conference, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said the proposal should be considered “very, very seriously.”
He said the executive branch was prepared to work with Congress for a law on amnesty for political offenders.
Gonzales said he would call a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the details of a proposed law such as who would be included in it, what offenses it would cover, and how it would be defined.
Presidential Management Staff chief Cerge Remonde said the proposal could also be included in the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).
He said Aumentado’s proposal could trigger the process of discussions on amnesty among other local officials in other provinces.
Remonde said mini-LEDACs would be held where a more focused discussion on specific issues could take place.
Bohol is being showcased by the government as a province where the problem of insurgency has been curbed.
Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Lasange of the Armed Forces Civil Relations Service of Central Visayas said there were only about 35 to 50 New People’s Army in the entire Bohol province.
He said he favored an amnesty to completely wipe out the rebels without using the military’s might.
Dr. Asteria Estorion, who works with the Office of the Governor and who has worked for programs on returning rebels, said about 185 NPA have returned to the fold of law since the 90s.
He said the returnees were given livelihood projects and housing.