July 19, 2022

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Rights group says anti-communist task force’s amnesty offer is a ‘facade’

HUMAN rights group Karapatan on Tuesday said the offer of the government’s anti-communist task force to grant amnesty to former communist rebels is a “facade” that would be used to continue state violence and repression.

The group made the statement after the task force, with new leadership under the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., said last week that it would consider the measure to “prevent the resurgence of the communist terror group.”

“The anti-communist task force is now dangling the idea of granting amnesty through so-called ‘localized peace talks’ — but any talk of ‘peace’ from the task force rings hollow when it continues to deny its hand in red-tagging and inciting human rights violations,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina E. Palabay said in a statement.

In its first executive meeting last Friday, National Security Adviser Clarita R. Carlos, the vice chairperson of the anti-communist task force, said they have yet to finalize the amnesty proposal.

During the meeting, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. did not recommend the resumption of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NDFP-CPP-NPA), adding previous peace talks “ended up in nothing.”

Former President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who revived peace talks with communist groups when he started his administration in 2016, eventually terminated the negotiations in late 2017, citing ceasefire violations by the NPA.

In December 2018, Mr. Duterte signed an executive order that calls for localized peace talks involving local governments and the multi-agency national task force.

“Any talk of peace should be anchored on granting general, unconditional, and omnibus amnesty to all political prisoners, the resumption of formal peace talks, and upholding all previously signed agreements,” said Ms. Palabay. — John Victor D. Ordoñez