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PIA Press Release

Peace talks to involve local stakeholders

By Jean D. Abangan

Davao City (12 September) -- Efforts to get the peace process moving will soon be taken at the local level even as the national government have anticipated delays in tying up the peace accords particularly with the communist rebel leadership.

Secretary Jesus Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Monday saw this taking off with the issuance of the Proclamation No. 1377 signed by President Macapagal Arroyo on September 6, 2007.

Proclamation 1377 grants amnesty to members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and other communist rebel groups.

Section 9 of the Proclamation says that the National Committee on Social Integration (NSCI) can deputize among other agencies in the government the "peace and order councils (POCs) as may be necessary for the processing of amnesty."

In a talk during the 22nd anniversary of Jesus Christ the Name Above Every Name in Davao City, Dureza said local government units with local stakeholders could take steps towards forging peace with local rebels through the new amnesty initiative that "may open new doors for rebels to enter."

This he said as he noted the on-going investigation of communist party leader Jose Maria Sison who he said "has violated Dutch Laws" for allegedly issuing orders while in exile in The Netherlands, to assassinate former communist comrades who had gone back to the folds of the law.

Dureza was with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her recent Presidential Visit in Southern Mindanao where she was supposed to visit the geothermal plant in Kidapawan City but was called off in last minute due to bad weather condition in the area.

In a separate interview, Dureza explained that the proclamation still awaits the implementing rules and regulations and the concurrence of Congress for its full implementation.

He said his office was tasked to come up with the IRR as soon as possible while Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita is working for the Executive Department to get the concurrence of the Congress.

"We are positive that Congress will concur with it," he said.

Meanwhile, Governor Rodolfo P. del Rosario of Davao del Norte bared plans of the national government to grant P100,000 for each rebel returnee to cover payment for firearms returned and finances to start up a new life.

Returnees will then be housed initially within a military headquarters to ensure their security and for monitoring purposes as well.

The LGUs, on the other hand, can provide logistic support such as personnel to run the process of finally granting returnees an amnesty as well as come up with livelihood projects to reintegrate them to the community.

"This is a three pronged-approach undertaken by the national government, the military and the local government units," he said in an interview after he emerged from a meeting with President Arroyo along with other local chief executives in the Davao Region at the Davao International Airport.

Del Rosario noted the amnesty initiative of the national government as a program worth iimplementing by the LGUs. (PIA XI/JMDA) [top]

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