OPAPP intensifies peace efforts with rebel groups
Manila (October 12) -- Looking back, Secretary Avelino Razon, then chief of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said that he has intensified the government's peace efforts with rebel groups, particularly the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF).
He is resigning from his post effective today, Monday (Oct. 12) to run for mayor in Manila in May next year.
As a result of his relentless pursuit for peace, the government and the MILF have agreed to create an International Contact Group (ICG) to pave the way for the revival of the stalled peace talks.
The government is just waiting word from Malaysia for the date when negotiations would start, hopefully before the end of the year.
Razon said that despite the continuing impasse in the negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF, parallel channels of engagement continued to be explored in the pursuit of the peace process through intensified human rights monitoring work; sustained support to community-based peace initiatives; sustained linkages with peace stakeholders; and continued implementation of confidence-building measures.
Simultaneously, he continued to implement various programs such as capability-building initiatives of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) through the implementation of "Study for Socio-Economic Reconstruction and Development of Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao in partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); assistance and development projects for internally displaced persons, among others.
Razon also gave importance to the Social Integration Program (SIP) of the government during his eight-month stay as OPAPP head.
From February to September 209, a total of 329 former rebels were enrolled in the program and provided immediate assistance of P20,000 each, and P50,000 worth of livelihood assistance were awarded to 289 former rebels.
As part of the government's rebel returnee program, 522 beneficiaries were given scholarship by OPAPP and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
Razon also said that another batch of 2,174 former rebels were provided with socio-economic assistance amounting to P43,480,000 and the Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction Development program continued to provide capacity-building assistance to local government units and people's organizations in conflict-affected areas in southern Philippines.
In compliance with the government's new paradigm on the peace process focusing on one that is centered with rebel groups to community dialogues and the integration of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) as a rule of engagement of the government in peace negotiation with rebel groups.
OPAPP has established a DDR center tasked to provide planning and technical support, policy advisory and program design input in the efforts to accomplish the renewed peace initiatives with various rebel groups.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has accepted the resignation of Razon and named his deputy, Undersecretary Nabil A. Tan as officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). (PIA-Samar/with bencal) [top]