Manila, Nov. 1 - The government has been conducting socio-economic profiling of members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas-Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB) to determine appropriate livelihood and other development interventions for their communities.
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo said that the series of profiling held last month in Negros and Panay Islands for the former combatants belonging to the Tabara-Paduano Group (TPG) of the RPMP-RPA-ABB is almost finished.
“A total of 495 TPG members were profiled on October 20-30. Negros Occidental accounted for 358 members, while Negros Oriental and Panay Island (Iloilo, Antique and Aklan) have 50 and 87 members profiled,” he said.
Montalbo stressed that the profiling will guide the government in creating peace and development communities that will serve as resettlement sites for TPG members. “This is fully supported by the local chief executives, civil society organizations (CSOs) and the local Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police commands.”
MGen. Emmanuel Bautista, commander of the AFP's 3rd Infantry Division said, "The AFP fully supports the peace process with the RPMP-RPA-ABB as it impacts on security concerns on the ground."
The security forces are helping OPAPP with the profiling activities.
PAMANA to deliver socio-economic development
According to Montalbo, the development interventions identified from the profiling will be covered under PAMANA or Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Peaceful and Resilient Communities), the government’s program and framework for peace and development in conflict-affected areas.
PAMANA aims to reduce poverty, improve governance and empower communities to address issues of conflict through community-driven initiatives that promote peace. These include capacity building, road rehabilitation and livelihood projects.
“Currently, the government through OPAPP is vigorously pursuing a closure track with both the TPG and the Nilo Dela Cruz Group of the RPMP-RPA-ABB for a closure agreement. While both groups have expressed commitment to fast-track the implementation of the 2000 Peace Agreement, the socio-economic development component of the agreement will be given to communities through PAMANA and its implementation mechanism, which provides for the engagement of a third party CSO to undertake monitoring,” Montalbo said.
He added that part of the mandatory provision for the closure pact with the RPMP-RPA-ABB is the disposition of arms and forces and its transformation into a legal, unarmed, socio-economic organization.
31M is PAMANA fund, not pay out to ABB
Montalbo clarified media reports which claimed that OPAPP gave P 31-million to ABB. "There is no truth to that report. OPAPP never gave P 31-million to the ABB."
"The use of ABB alone to refer to the group that signed the peace agreement with the government in 2000, as reported by a media network yesterday afternoon is likewise misleading. We are dealing with the RPMP-RPA-ABB, the three groups who banded together to breakaway from the New People's Army, and chose to return to the folds of the law and join mainstream society," he added.
According to Montalbo, the information on the P 31-million fund quoted in news reports is from the PAMANA website. "OPAPP is very transparent in its disbursement of funds. The PAMANA website clearly states that the P 31-million is for community development and livelihood projects for three peace and development community sites in Negros Island where there are members of the RPMP-RPA-ABB."
"It is part of PAMANA's funds for 2011 amounting to P 568 - million, and were provided for conflict-affected communities who find it more difficult compared to other communities to jumpstart their development."
"The funds are granted for implementation of peace and development projects to LGUs or regional implementing agencies such as DSWD for implementation. Other beneficiary communities from Luzon, Mindanao and other parts of Visayas can also be found in the same website where the information on the P 31-million fund for Negros Island was seen." he added.