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PIA Press Release

Dureza underscores importance of good governance in ending hostilities in Basilan

Manila (3 September) -- Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza underscored the importance of good local governance as key to lasting peace and prosperity in the island-province of Basilan.

In an emergency meeting of the HELP Convergence Group at the Basilan Provincial Capitol, Secretary Dureza stressed that any solution to the current crisis in Basilan lies in the hands of the elected local officials of the province down to the barangays.

He said the help that the national government is providing through the different national line government agencies is only temporary and that the locals are at a better edge to find lasting solution to the local problem.

"We are here because of some inabilities of the local government to deliver," Dureza said, as he encouraged local officials to make their presence felt in the locality by "opening up avenues and opportunities for people to take for themselves."

Dureza also reiterated President Arroyo's strong political will in upholding the peace process. The President's is, likewise, pushing for the "development offensive" by fast tracking projects and programs of the convergence group.

As part of this, the Department of Agriculture (DA) revealed that some 25 heads of carabaos has been initially allocated to Basilan. Dureza gave the DA 30 days to implement the project and hopes the department would further increase the number of heads to be distributed.

Also, DOH-ARMM Secretary Dr. Tahir B. Sulaik announced that the department has already identified standby medical workers and volunteers with surgical capability for the joint mega medical mission, hopefully with the support of the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Manila. Dureza encouraged the DOH and Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar to immediately schedule the mega medical mission.

For his part, ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan gave P500, 000.00 for the procurement of medicines for the affected municipalities of Basilan and Sulu. Ambulances for Al-barka, Ungkaya Pukan and Sumisip were also promised.

The biggest undertaking and perhaps the most expensive and impacting project in this development offensive is the P756 million-worth project for the 86 kilometer Basilan circumferential road, funded by the Saudi Fund for Development to be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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