Gov't looks forward to fulfilling peace accord
BAGUIO CITY (28 September) -- In its quest of attaining peace and reconciliation towards a new era of development in the country, the government is pursuing five goals of the process as incorporated in the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan.
Director Romulo Halabaso of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process(OPAPP) Policy and Program Development Office said these goals include completion of comprehensive peace agreements with rebel groups to end all hostilities by 2010, mainstreaming of rebel groups through an enhanced amnesty, reintegration and reconciliation program, completion of implementation of all final peace agreements signed since 1986, development and healing of conflict affected areas and strengthening of peace constituency and citizens participation.
In the Cordillera region, government is looking forward for the full implementation of the peace accord with the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army(CPLA) signed on September 13, 1986 in Mt. Data, Mt. Province.
Along this line, under the CPLA integration program into the Armed Forces of the Philippines pursuant to Administrative Order 18, Halaboso said 264 CPLA members, 15 officers and 249 enlisted personnel(EP) were fully integrated in the AFP while 6 CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAAs)companies consisting of 528 members are currently deployed in the Cordillera provinces.
He also disclosed that in an AFP/CPLA JACIB joint declaration on December 12, 2006, 408 CPLA members composed of five officers and 43 EPs will be integrated into the regular forces of the AFP and 360 others to CAFGU CAA.
The 408 members who were not integrated are beneficiaries of livelihood projects, Halaboso added.
According to Col. James Jacob of the 5ID, a P2 million seed money has been distributed to seven CPLA cooperatives in all the provinces in CAR. The AFP Paaral Program for Integrees and Entrepreneur Skills Training was also launched September last year to increase the chance of CPLA integrees for promotion and opportunities for gainful livelihood projects.
The OPPAP also reported that additional enlistment of CPLA members into the regular forces will be prioritized thru the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, subject to the recruitment program of the AFP and the grant of age and height waivers.
Those already integrated were based on the 1,200 CPLA roster submitted at the start of the integration process but there are still many members wanting to be integrated.
For provisions of the peace accord to be fully realized, the CPLA should also keep its part of the agreement, it was pointed out.
On the peace process with the CPP-NPA-NDF, Halabaso informed that it has been suspended since 2004, but still government has remained open to negotiations while continuing to fulfill its obligations under the Comprehensive Agreements on respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed in 1998.
Just last September 4, 2007, President Arroyo signed Proclamation No. 1377 granting amnesty to members of the CPP-NPA-NDF and other communist rebel groups.
Initiatives on the ground include support to local peaces initiative in insurgency affected areas. Halaboso reported that the OPAPP has been involved in peace dialogues between rebel groups and LGUs and NGO peace partners like the Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Governance. It is also assisting the Peace Executive Council as a conflict prevention and peace building mechanism for the towns of Sagada, Sadanga, Besao and Bontoc in Mt. Province.
Halaboso also informed that Kalayaan Barangay program which involves the delivery of basic socio-economic services and projects such as access roads, schools buildings, water system, among others in insurgency affected barangays, is being implemented in 10 barangays in the region.
Aside from the CPLA and the communist insurgents, government is investing on peace efforts with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front. (PIA-CAR) [top]