Dec 20, 2011

Cordillera: Development Projects Begin As Part Of Peace Agreements

The Filipino government complied with the peace agreements by launching the PAMANA project, a vast development plan for the Cordillera.

Below is an article published by Manila Bulletin:

The government on Saturday formally launched PAMANA or Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan program in pursuit of lasting peace and development in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) five months after the historic signing of the closure agreement with the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA).

No less than Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo and Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda graced the ceremonial launch held at the Pines View Hotel in Baguio City.

Deles said an initial funding of P207 million out of the total P264 million was ceremonially turned over by the government, through OPAPP, to conduits and implementing partners in the region.

Local government officials received the checks on behalf of their communities as civil society organizations witnessed the ceremonial turn-over.

The implementation of PAMANA in the region is an outcome of the closure pact or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the CBA-CPLA last July 4 in Malacañang.

Building on the Mt. Data Peace Agreement signed by both parties in 1986, the MOA is anchored on six pillars: community projects, livelihood and employment support, sub-regional development, legacy documentation, final disposition of arms and forces, and transformation of the CBA-CPLA into a potent, unarmed socio-economic group.

In her speech, Deles emphasized the importance of the MOA or closure agreement with the CBA-CPLA.

“The closure agreement entailed an essential shift in the way the CPLA views itself: no longer as an armed group with a command structure that has commanders as leaders, and combatants as members, but as a potent, socioeconomic, unarmed force that can directly make a difference in the lives of their families and communities and in the pace and direction of development in the Cordillera, a region that continues to pose enormous challenges to our poverty reduction and human development targets,” she stated.

The peace adviser also stressed how the government views with urgency the full compliance of the provisions stated in the MOA.

“Simula nang nagkapirmahan, the President personally saw to it that the funds were moved to support the projects. Five months, and we are launching now the PAMANA in Cordillera, which is the government’s program for deliberately converging government services in what used to be conflict-affected communities.”

Meanwhile, Robredo said he is accepting the challenge of promoting peace on behalf of the local government units (LGUs).

“Tinatanggap po ng (mga) lokal (na pamahalaan) ang tungkulin at responsibilidad na isulong ang usaping pangkapayaapaan sa (kani-kanilang) lugar (The local government units are accepting the duty and responsibility of helping move the peace process forward in their respective areas),” he said.

Speaking from his experience as former mayor of Naga City where he initiated Peace Zones even before the national government intervened with their city’s insurgent problems, Robredo said that achieving peace is the key to achieving progress.

Lacierda, on the other hand, encouraged those present to support the proper implementation of PAMANA projects.

“It must be our common interest to ensure its implementation. What can we do to make sure that this is a success? Because only then, can we truly move forward.

Rear Admiral Miguel Jose Rodriguez, speaking on behalf of Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa, expressed the Armed Forces’ full commitment to the peace-initiated projects of the government “all the way, all the time.”

Also present in the said turnover are National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Chair Zenaida Brigida Pawid, CBA President Marcelina Bahatan, CPLA Chair Arsenio Humiding, local government unit heads in CAR and representatives from different civil society groups.

Author: Francis T. Wakefield