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PIA Press Release

MEDCo enhances peace-building role, visits conflict-affected areas in Davao Sur

by Iris Ferraris

Manila (14 August) -- To further enhance its peace-building role in Mindanao's former conflict areas, the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) in partnership with the project management office of the GOP-UNMDPACT For Peace Programme visited peace and development communities or PDCs in Davao del Sur.

Among the areas visited are Barangays Manga and Savoy in Matanao and Barangay Aplaya in Hagonoy. PDCs are conflict-affected or conflict-vulnerable barangays that are undergoing transformation into convergence areas for peace building and development activities by strengthening the capacities of the People's Organizations and the local government units.

In Barangay Manga, the ACT For Peace together with MEDCo and the Local Government of Davao del Sur inaugurated a Barangay Health Station. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the inauguration was led by Dr. Mahalindi Colminares, the Provincial Health Officer of Davao del Sur and Ms. Charlita Escaņo, Chief Economic Development Specialist of the Office for Project Coordination and Management (OPCM) of MEDCo.

The turn-over ceremony was attended by representatives from the Davao delSur Provincial Governor's Office, Office of the Matanao Mayor, the Barangay Officials of Brgy. Manga, MEDCo and ACT For Peace Programme, Peace and Development Advocates League, as well as the residents of Brgy. Manga.

Dr. Colminares said that they included Brgy. Manga in their Health Financial Budget Plan, in order to address the Barangay's request for health care equipment, medicines and other supplies for their newly-installed Health Station.

A Barangay Health Station, still a project from the ACT For Peace Programme is also being built for the residents of Barangay Savoy in Matanao.

Barangay Savoy is comprised of 60% Blaans and 40% settlers from Visayas and Luzon. Its main products are rice, corn, mango and banana. They have been recipients of various ACT For Peace and donor projects such as carabao dispersals, steel fabrication, medical equipment and farming machineries.

In dialogue with Savoy barangay officials, MEDCo staff learned that the community focuses on peace dialogues and enriching their tribal culture. The development assistance in Savoy also has to focus on education and livelihood for their community's improvement and progress. As pointed out by Barangay Kagawad Edgardo Tilud, the people of Savoy can benefit from scholarship grants that are exclusively designed for them.

Meanwhile, in Barangay Aplaya in Hagonoy, the people are thankful for the Rabeetatun Nisa Micro lending project given to their community by the ACTF or Peace Programme for this has brought about unity in the community and has able to assist the people to establish their own small businesses.

The Barangay officials of Aplaya expressed gratitude for the transformation of their area into a Peace and Development Community. By being a PDC, Aplaya was able to empower its Bangsamoro women, who have now turned into Peace and Development advocates as well.

Leopoldo Laling, a former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) combatant and now Executive Director of the Davao del Sur Peace and Development Advocates League, also shared his experiences and challenges as a Peace and Development Advocate.

"Mas mahirap ang pagsulong sa kapayapaan kaysa sa pakikipagdigmaan perowalang nananalo sa digmaan at ang mas naaapektuhan ay ang mga karaniwangmamamayan" (it is harder to promote peace than war but nobody wins in war and the common people are the ones getting more affected)," Laling said.

The PDC visits are part of the ACT For Peace Programme's effort to enhance MEDCo's capacities on Peace building in view of its role in promoting social cohesion, political stability, and good governance well as ensuring peace and security by linking peace issues with development initiatives in Mindanao.

According to Undersecretary Virgilio L. Leyretana Sr., Chair of MEDCo, "ThePDC visit was an opportunity for MEDCo as a peace and development-focused organization to address the needs of the people on the ground, and come upwith a grounded development plan that is based on community needs." (MEDCo) [top]

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