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PIA Press Release

PGMA orders listing of priority areas for peace initiatives

Manila (15 October) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered today the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to immediately draw up a list of priority areas for local peace initiatives to ensure funding and implementation.

The President issued the instruction in a speech at the opening of the regional workshop on the "Establishment of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in Asia" this morning at the Traders Hotel along Roxas Blvd., Pasay City.

Thirteen countries are participating in the three-day workshop.

The presidential directive was issued to the OPAPP and the commanding general of the AFP-National Development Service Command (AFP-NDSC).

The President said the list of priority areas should be submitted to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita for proper action.

"The Executive Secretary shall then disseminate the list to agency heads for priority funding and implementation, based on the OPAPP-AFP schedule for peace initiatives, and subject to regular updating based on conditions and requirements on the ground," she said.

The President reiterated that the Philippines is the most democratic country in the region and "has no tolerance for human rights violations of any kind."

She pointed out that she has "advanced the cause of peace in Mindanao to a new level of engagement, focused on inter-faith dialogue, economic development and mutual security.

The Philippines -- whose own NHRI (the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines) pre-dates the UN's circa-1993 NHRIs by six years is co-hosting the event for the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN-OHCHR).

Stressing that "terrorists like the Abu Sayyaf and armed communists are a threat to the sovereignty of the nation, the President cited her administration's efforts to secure the peace for the Filipino nation.

These included:

  • Following the recommendations of the Melo Commission to establish separate courts, expedite prosecutions, expand victim assistance, and increase funding for more investigators.
  • Ordering the National Prosecution Service of the Department of Justice to work closely with the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation from the beginning of the criminal investigation until the termination of cases in court.
  • Personally meeting with the journalism community and the human rights activists, sharing their outrage and explaining to them that the government deplores any and all killings of political activities and journalists; and
  • Ordering the military in no uncertain terms that rogue elements must be brought to justice.

    The President said she welcomes the scrutiny of the US, the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and other nations "to help us move away from this part of our political discourse."

    She lauded the CHRP/PCHR for being a "beacon for the dignity and well-being of every Filipino, as well as for the community welfare, peace and development."

    "We respect the Commission's independence; appreciate its human rights advisories and recommendations; and acknowledge its role as a watchdog of government's compliance with human rights treaty obligations," she added. (OPS) [top]

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