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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, January 6, 2012
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P91M set for RPA areas

The Philippine government has earmarked P91 million more, for the implementation of infrastructure and livelihood projects in communities affected by armed conflicts in Negros island.

The move is in support of the peace process with the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas-Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade Tabara-Paduano Group and is, under its Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan, or PAMANA program.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental, during its December 21 regular session held in Sagay City, unanimously approved a resolution, that granted authority to Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. to sign a memorandum of agreement between the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process and the province on the implementation of the PAMANA programs and projects in identified conflict areas, that amounts to P91 million.

Board Member Jose Benito Alonzo, a member of the SP committee on Peace and Order, who had moved for its approval, said recipients of the projects have been waiting for 13 years for their implementation.

The National Democratic Front-Negros slammed the administration of President Benigno Aquino III for allocating P31 million to the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade that, it claimed, will only mean escalation of their abuses against the people of Negros.

NDF-Negros spokesman Frank Fernandez said in a statement he issued that “President Aquino wears a mask of deceit when he boasts that the funds intended for the RPA will go to rehabilitation, reintegration and livelihood.”

Marañon and OPPAP executive director Luisito Montalvo also recently signed a MOA for P23 million livelihood and infrastructure projects in identified conflict areas of Negros Occidental, which will cover the agri-based Enterprise Development Projects for communities identified by the RPM-P/RPA-ABB TPG for P15 million, and a one-kilometer farm-to-market road connecting Brgy. Magticol and Brgy. Cambayobo, all in Calatrava, at P7.5 million.

Fernandez further claimed that Marañon is now happy that the RPA, that he allegedly uses as a private army, will have additional funds.

OPPAP hopes for a closure of the peace agreement with the RPM-P-RPA-ABB Tabara-Paduano group within this year, after the recent completion of the profiling of RPA-ABB Tabara-Paduano Group members who totaled 480 in Negros Occidental alone.

Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said “We are determined not to pass on unfinished business on the peace front to the next administration.”

Deles said she remains optimistic that, the peace negotiations with the two main rebel groups, apparently referring to the CPP-NPA-NDF and Moro Islamic Liberation Group, will move forward in 2012; adding that the government is ready to face challenges and problems that may crop up.

“As the New Year starts, the opportunities for peace remain positive. Let 2012 be the year of peace,” Deles said in her New Year’s message to the OPPAP rank-and-file employees, while admitting that 2011 was a roller coaster.

“We were up many times and we were also down and under many times – but the solution is to always not to allow ourselves to stay down,” she added.

Talks with the communist rebel group have been in a stalemate since late last year because of the NDF’s insistence on the release of detained NDF “consultants” before talks could restart. The government panel says this is a blatant violation of the agreement signed in Norway and in The Hague for both sides not to impose any preconditions for the resumption of the peace negotiations that have dragged in the past 25 years.

Despite the impasse , Deles said “the door is always open” for the resumption of the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF.* GPB/PNA


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