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PIA Press Release
Friday, January 20, 2012

PAMANA shelters raise IDP hopes in attaining lasting peace in Mindanao

by Rene V. Carbayas

ISABELA CITY, Basilan, Jan 20 (PIA) –- The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said that the government formally awarded shelter units last week to some internally displaced families in North Cotabato.

The government through PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan) program formally turned over a total of 265 shelter units to beneficiary families – 190 in Barangay Libungan Toretta in Pigcawayan and 75 in Barangay Dunguan in Aleosan, North Cotabato.

Beneficiaries expressed gratitude for the government’s shelter program and hope that a peaceful resolution on the Mindanao conflict will finally be forged under the Aquino III’s administration.

Twelve-year-old Salama hopes that she will no longer hear the dreadful sound of mortars being fired just a few steps away from their classroom.

She hopes that she would not have to skip school again and live through the discomforts of dwelling inside a tent with little protection from the sun and the rain.

Tauntik, 42, trusts that he will not re-live the pain of being separated from his wife and three kids as they fled from the raging bullets of warring government troops and lawless elements in their town.

Thirty-four-year-old Alenith, on the other hand, hopes for a peace agreement soon so that she will never again witness bloody clashes, while 21-year-old Johari looks forward to raising his children far from the perils of armed conflict that left them homeless.

Their families were among those awarded with shelter units by the government through the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Shelter Assistance Project of the PAMANA program which was implemented through DSWD-12 and the Municipal Governments of Pigcawayan and Aleosan.

Although the painful memories remain fresh, Salama, Tauntik, Alenith and Johari have held on to their hopes of a more peaceful and progressive life.

Along with hundreds of residents from Maguindanao and North Cotabato, they were displaced by armed encounters that ensued after the botched signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain in August 2008.

PAMANA is the P-Noy administration’s program and framework for peace and development in conflict areas as well as communities covered by existing peace pacts. It seeks to reduce poverty, improve governance and empower communities through interventions that address people’s socio-economic needs and promote peace at the same time.

Beneficiaries were handed with certificates of commitment and ownership for the shelters. They likewise received calamansi seedlings and family packs containing rice, noodles, milk and sardines.

As counterpart, beneficiary families themselves constructed the shelter units with assistance from the local government.

Being owners, they are obliged to refrain from selling, transferring or removing and modifying any part of the house. They are also urged to maintain cleanliness and sanitation of the shelter units provided to them.

Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Vergelita D. Guilaran appealed to the IDPs to take care and nurture what has been given to them. “The government has trusted you,” she said. “Show them that you are indeed trustworthy.”

North Cotabato 2nd District Representative Jesus Sacdalan urged the IDPs to improve their situation and asked them to work together towards transforming battlefields into rice and corn fields. Instead of providing cash assistance, the North Cotabato representative distributed calamansi seedlings which can be grown and used by the IDPs as food or medicine.

“There should be livelihood too. This time we won’t give you fish but we’ll teach you how to fish,” he said.

To sustain the project and ensure maintenance of the shelter units, DSWD-12 and the Provincial Government of North Cotabato facilitated the establishment of the Neighborhood Association for Shelter Assistance (NASA) in Maguindanao and North Cotabato municipalities that benefit from PAMANA’s Shelter Assistance Project.

In his message, OPAPP PAMANA Coordinating Unit-Mindanao Dir. Eric Dela Torre related how convergence played a big role in the shelter units completion. “When we planned the shelter assistance project last year, many agencies gave their support,” he said. “Now, we are exploring more ways to strengthen the convergence efforts in PAMANA.”

PAMANA is jointly led by OPAPP, which acts as the oversight agency, and DSWD, Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of Agrarian Reform, which serve as implementing agencies. (JPA/OPAPP/RVC-PIA9 ZBST)

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