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Presidential peace adviser welcomes passage of OPAPP budget

MANILA, Philippines - Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Teresita Deles welcomed yesterday the passage by the House of Representatives of the P569.64-million budget of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) last week.

The OPAPP, considered by Minority Leader Edcel Lagman as the main event in the last day of budget hearings in the House, was the last to be deliberated on and passed by Congress.

Some P240.29 million of OPAPP’s P569.64-million budget is for its regular appropriations that include maintenance and operating expenses and personal services. The remaining P329.34 million is for the agency’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) program for peace and development.

Deles said the P329-million budget under OPAPP is part of the government’s P1.9-billion fund allocation for the Pamana program for 2012 carried by three other government agencies.

The big portion of the P329-million forms part of the Peace and Development Fund to be given as grant to Pamana barangays from various conflict-affected provinces under Pillar 2. Some P300,000 is allocated for community-driven peace building and development interventions in barangays.

OPAPP Executive Director Luisito Montalbo said Pamana would be implemented through a community-based development approach in which people are given control on how they would use the funds they receive.

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“The community-based development approach has been proven by the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services,” Montalbo said.

He said the community-based development approach would not only improve the economic lives of the people, but also empower them to decide on their future.

For his part, Ernesto Alcanzare of the peace advocacy group Yes for Peace said, “We hope that part of the budget given to OPAPP will be used to document and mobilize people’s participation towards the permanent cessation of hostilities within next year and the earnest implementation of all agreements entered into by the government with all armed revolutionary groups.

“We believe that the people are the most important stakeholders in the peace process and should therefore play a major role in it,” he added.

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