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Defense chief seeks amnesty law for communist rebels

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 11:16:00 07/27/2008

MANILA, Philippines–Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. has renewed his appeal for Congress to pass a law that would grant amnesty to communist rebels, which he said would establish mechanisms for localized ceasefires.

Teodoro issued the statement as he and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano faced reporters together in Camp Aguinaldo on Sunday and said they had “settled” their differences on whether or not to declare a ceasefire with the communist New People’s Army.

“The issue is settled, but in connection with that, I encourage Congress, once they resume, to please concur with the amnesty proposal which contains proposals for ceasefires on a local level as mandated by the local peace assemblies to be established,” said Teodoro, a former congressman.

“As the SND [secretary of national defense] said, it’s settled, I don’t think there is a need to rehash the issue,” Yano said.

Teodoro and Yano boarded a helicopter at the Camp Aguinaldo grandstand and flew to Fort Magsaysay in Laur town, Nueva Ecija province, where they are to accompany President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on an inspection of a jatropa plantation there.

The defense chief said the communist insurgency should be dealt with “compassionately” but with a “firm” hand as well.

“And the amnesty proposal for me balances the initiatives. There can be a mechanism for ceasefires there as dictated by the local peace assemblies and more importantly, together with that amnesty proposal, there is a full social integration program,” he said.

Last week, Yano proposed an “indefinite” ceasefire with the NPA to pave the way for the resumption of peace talks, echoing an earlier appeal by his predecessor, now Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon Jr., for a three-year truce.

But Teodoro said the policy was to sustain offensives against the NPA, saying the insurgency should be defeated “with military force, not without.”

Arroyo has given security forces until the end of her term in 2010 to end the nearly four-decade-long guerilla campaign of the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

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Written by joelguinto

SunUTC2008-07-27T04:10:11+00:00UTC07bUTCSun, 27 Jul 2008 04:10:11 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

Posted in Uncategorized

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