MALACANANG has shut down efforts to offer amnesty to the members of the Abu Sayyaf saying the group has been nothing but a bunch of criminal outlaws.
But Deputy Spokesperson Anthony Golez also said the situation is different with accused political offenders who deserve a bit of "leniency"
Golez said the decision to deny amnesty to the Abu Sayyaf came after careful study, and considering popular calls for justice and retribution as well as weighing the pressing imperatives of peace and development in Mindanao.
"They are lawless. They are proven to be kidnappers, gun runners, extortionists and they have been doing illegal things. They don't deserve to be given an amnesty," Golez stressed as quoted in reports.
"The decision also reflects our confidence that the peace process will not be affected by the denial of amnesty to a fringe gang of bandits and terrorists," Golez said.
On the statement's effects to ongoing negotiations, he adds, "Our government believes that the peace process can and should continue on the basis of good faith discussions between government and mainstream political rebel groups, following the UN-sanctioned principles of DDR or disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration."
The Abu Sayyaf – or Bearer of the Sword – wrote its early history in blood, staging kidnappings, bombings and beheadings to draw attention, recruits and funds from the al-Qaeda terror network of international fugitive Osama bin Laden.
The homegrown terror group is now listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.
The international terrorist tag has also allowed US helping the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its campaign against the Abu Sayyaf. (PIA)