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PIA Press Release

Hopes sprout for Bohol KRs as GMA sets P500M fund

by Rey Anthony Chiu

Tagbilaran City (6 September) -- HOPES sprout and a peaceful future awaits the Kauban sa Reporma (rebel returnees) who see the looming protection as they go mainstream with the government's general amnesty program in the works.

For Bohol program coordinator and Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Constancia Tuñacao, the recent developments springing from the Local Peace and Security Assembly (LPSA) opened hopes' floodgates for Boholano KRs and the rest of the country.

The recent LPSA proposed the re-granting of the general amnesty program to facilitate the peaceful return of brother Filipinos who have grown tired of the fruitless armed struggle and have shown intent on peaceful surrender.

The social welfare head, who also processes documents for amnesty applicants to the Bacolod-based Local Amnesty Board, was elated over reports that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the initial allocation of P500M for the country's rebel returnee program.

The P500M initial release intended to animate the national government's new direction in investing in peace was the core of the President's message during the special cabinet cluster meeting she convened after the Bohol assembly.

The meeting tried to look into the Bohol proposal to re-grant the suspended amnesty while pushing the government to exhaust all means to propagate the Bohol formula in winning over insurgency.

In the Bohol LPSA, participants asked the government to reactivate local peace fora and empowering the communities to keep them away from the problem.

Despite suspended amnesty program, Bohol bravely initiated localized peace talks. This has advanced its peace cause by scoring at least 185 rebel returnees, despite risking the rebels' from being summoned to the courts to face their past offenses while in the movement.

Now tending KRs exposed to the threat, Bohol still has to creatively source out funds as livelihood seed money for the KRs rehabilitation.

Without the sustainable source of funds, recent KRs are deprived of the amnesty package (which early surrenderees got), Tunacao said.

According to the OPSWD, rebel returnees each got P12,500 as financial assistance fund, while the LGU sometimes put in livelihood assistance, which at one point included farm and home lots and housing units.

The recent developments indicate however that such loopholes could already be addressed, though the fund may not be enough, Tuñacao admitted.

During the recent special NSC, the President said that the allocation is for the processing of amnesty applications and as a seed capital for livelihood projects of communist rebels who return to the folds of the law.

The fund, comes from the profits the country earned in its economic growth for the second quarter, the strongest in 20 years, the president told the security cluster.

"Unfortunately, the people hear very little of these cheerful economic news, but these positive developments are happening, the President said.

Using such as payback, the Chief Executive stressed that the country still needs to maintain and improve on the gains already achieved: economic reform, peace and a stable political climate.

She said sowing stronger peace and security in the regions happen now with the partnership of the local leaders, the church and the national government. (PIA) [top]

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