Jailed Philippine communists eye amnesty
HUNDREDS of detained communist rebels in the Philippines are likely to be granted amnesty, officials said yesterday, after fresh talks aimed at ending one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.
Government negotiators said in a statement they had submitted a proposal to President Rodrigo Duterte to free 434 communists accused of a range of crimes including murder, kidnapping and arson.
“The [peace] panel has a commitment that there will be releases. We will fast-track that,” chief government negotiator Silvestre Bello told reporters in Norway at the end of three days of talks with the rebels.
Mr Duterte, who took office on June 30, quickly launched peace talks with the communists, saying it was his “dream” to end their rebellion that has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives since 1968.
To kickstart the talks, Mr Duterte released 18 of their top leaders and pledged to grant amnesty for other rebels whom the communists insist were jailed on trumped-up charges.
More than 100 of the rebels slated for amnesty have been in jail for over a decade.
The latest statements from Mr Bello and other government negotiators following the second round of official talks in Norway show the amnesty process is on track.
Nevertheless, Mr Duterte’s peace envoy Jesus Dureza told AFP via text message from Norway the amnesty was not yet finalised, highlighting the fact that it also needed congressional approval.
The two sides have said they expect to reach a final peace agreement by the middle of next year. –