TOWARDS A REFORMED LIFE. Former rebels and members of the Cordillera People's Liberation Army are now employed as forest guards under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’s Bantay Gubat program as part of the socio-economic integration component of the signed Memorandum of Agreement between the government and Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army/Cordillera Forum on Peace and Development.
Mankayan, Benguet — Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles recently reiterated the government’s commitment to deliver the promises of the peace pact in Cordillera through a series of visits and dialogues in Benguet and Abra.
Deles visited community development sites in Manabo, Abra, and Mankayan, Benguet—taking note of the success of the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) projects in the said areas.
On Sunday, June 1, the peace adviser formally opened farm-to-market roads funded through the said program.
“Today, we open an improved road, it is very appropriate, we hope, that as you walk that road, you remember that our President walks the ‘tuwid na daan (straight path),’” Deles noted during the ceremonies.
“And that road should be well-maintained by both the provincial and local government because more ‘tuwid na daan' will lead to more roads and that is our hope—that the roads and the livelihood will leave a PNoy legacy that would be remembered: that we could turn armed conflict into development and claim peace to be our own.”
The peace adviser also expressed her appreciation in “seeing PAMANA working so well.”
Gains of peace
The Madago-Casakgudan and Cabiten-Kamantaki farm-to-market road projects are only two among the 81 community development projects in the Cordillera.
In 2011, the government signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Cordillera Bodong Administration and Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) to secure peace in the region.
Part of the agreement is the socio-economic development of its members and provision of development projects for their communities. Implementation of the projects are being done through PAMANA, not only in the provinces of Abra and Benguet, but also in Apayao, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province.
In Benguet, the 4.2-kilometer Cabiten–Kamantaki farm-to-market road was subject to an improvement project benefiting 454 households and more than 2,000 hectares of farmlands.
During the visit, Deles also participated in a tree-planting ceremony and checked an organic free-range chicken project being handled by a people’s organization formed from the former CPLA.
In Abra, a 1.5-kilometer Madago-Casakgudan farm-to-market road was completed, providing ease in the transport of rice, mangoes, corns, vegetables and other local products to Bangued and some to Baguio City. There, she also met with former CPLA members now employed as forest guards under the Department of Environment and Natural Resource’s Bantay Gubat program.
Cognizant of the problems encountered during the implementation of the MOA, Deles assured that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process—together with the entire government both the local and national levels—will be working to address the gaps and secure the gains of the signed peace agreement.
At the same time, the peace adviser lauded the support of the local government executives, specifically the Governors and Mayors for ensuring the completion of the projects despite challenges and for their role in sustaining the gains of the MOA.
Deles was joined by fellow OPAPP officials Undersecretary Maria Cleofe Gettie Sandoval, Assistant Secretaries Rose Romero and Danilo Encinas, and Director Martin Perfecto during the site visits.