P415 million peace projects to be implemented in CAR

BANGUED, Abra  Some P415 million worth of peace and development projects will be implemented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) under the Payapa at Masganang Pamayanan (PAMaNA) program crafted by the government for the identification of interventions in conflict-stricken areas.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, who visited the province to have a dialogue with the unified command of the Cordillera Bodong Administration – Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) led by Vice governor Ronald Balao-as, said the allocation for the PaMANA projects in the region for this year is almost double compared to the P213 million worth of projects implemented in conflict-stricken areas in the region last year.

“We remain committed in providing the needed funds for the priority development projects identified by the people in conflict-stricken areas to ensure the eventual reign of peace in their places once their priority needs have been effectively and efficiently addressed by concerned government agencies,” Secretary Dureza stressed.

The Palace official claimed funding for projects needed by people in conflict-stricken areas will be granted once the local governments will be cooperative in complying with the requirements for the downloading of the funds but for those that refuse to cooperate with the standard policies, OPAPP will transfer the funds to interested localities.

However, Dureza claimed that OPAPP can no longer provide livelihood assistance to their beneficiaries because Congress scrapped from their budget the P1 billion that the agency proposed to intensify the provision of livelihood assistance to people affected by conflicts in the countryside.

He assured CBA-CPLA officials and members that the government will continue engaging them after they were left out in the controversial 2011 closure agreement that was instigated by the previous administration, saying that peace is a continuing process and that there is no such thing as closure because there will be sectors that will be left out such as what happened to the unified command of the CPLA.

According to him, the grant of development projects in conflict-stricken communities will empower residents to value the importance of the projects to their daily lives, thus, they will be the ones to protect the projects that have been put in place from whatever atrocities that will be done by certain groups like what happened in their bridge project in Davao del Norte where the indigenous peoples in the place protected the bridge from the possible sabotage that have been threatened by the new Peoples Army (NPA).

He challenged the CPLA members who were left out in the previous closure agreement to start weighing their options on which among the available interventions will suit their needs because OPAPP will be rolling out one of its major projects in conflict-stricken areas to effectively and efficiently address the plight of the affected residents for sustainable sources of livelihood anchored on lasting peace in the countryside.

Dureza also solicited the inputs of the CPLA on their planned peace and development forces before the same will be rolled out wherein the former CPLA combatants will be one of the beneficiaries of the interventions that are now being ironed out.

By HENT

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