Issue of December 25, 2011

102nd Baguio Day Anniversary Issue
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Palace releases P207 M funding for peace projects in region
by Harley Palangchao

Malacañang has started to fulfill the Mount Data peace accord to bring peace and development in the Cordillera following the release over the weekend of P207 million funding assistance to the region.

The financial grant was released by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles and Interior and Local Government Sec. Jesse Robredo to various local government units in the Cordilleras during the launch of the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) program.

The program, which was an offshoot of the closure agreement between Malacañang, the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA), and Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBAd), aims to bring lasting peace and development especially in poverty-stricken areas in the Cordilleras.

The P207M is an initial funding out of the P264M, which Malacañang promised to pour in to the region when the closure agreement was signed on July 4 in the Palace.

The agreement, OPPAP reported, 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.

Receiving the financial assistance were ranking leaders to include Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr., Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog Sr., Gov. Eugene Balitang of Ifugao, Nestor Fongwan of Benguet, and Leonard Mayaen of  Mountain Province. A number of town mayors also witnessed the turnover rites.

Robredo thanked OPPAP and Deles for involving LGUs in the attainment of peace and socio-economic developments in the northern highlands even as he vowed that DILG will support the cause.

“Tinatanggap po ng (mga) lokal (na pamahalaan) ang tungkulin at responsibilidad na isulong ang usaping pangkapayaapaan sa (kani-kanilang) lugar,” he said.

Deles, for her part, said the closure agreement entailed an essential shift in the way the CPLA views itself, saying the group is no longer 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 make a difference in the lives of their families and communities and in the pace and direction of development in the Cordilleras.

“Since the agreement signing, 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,” she said.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda encouraged concerned sectors, including the civil society and civic groups, to support 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,” Lacierda said.

Rear Admiral Miguel Jose Rodriguez, who spoke in behalf of Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa, expressed the AFP’s full commitment to the peace-initiated projects of the government.

Also present during the launch and the turnover rites were CPLA chair Arsenio Humiding, CBA president Marcelina Bahatan and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples chair Zenaida Brigida Pawid.

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