OPAPP, South Cotabato local gov’t renews peace partnership

February 2, 2011 11:00 am 

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Feb. 2 – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has renewed its partnership with the provincial government of South Cotabato in a bid to enhance the ongoing peace process in Mindanao and the implementation of the government's reintegration program for former rebels in the area.

Elena Padua, OPAPP's peace program officer, said Wednesday they are set to forge a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the local government, which it would tap as local conduit for its enhanced peace and reintegration initiatives.

She said South Cotabato Governor Arthur Pingoy Jr. personally committed to support the initiative following a briefing on OPAPP's new guiding principles and policies held in Koronadal City.

Padua said the new guiding principles and policies were laid down by the national government to strengthen the implementation of the reintegration program, pending a thorough review and enhancement of their past programs.

OPAPP supervises the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the government's reintegration program for former rebels. It provides policy directions, capacity-building support and assist in its resource mobilization.

“It mainly emphasizes the participation of provincial government and its roles include providing focal authority, assistance and even taking part in the management of the local peace and reintegration efforts,” she said.

Under the new framework, Padua said local government units, former combatants and their families, communities, non-government organizations and other stakeholders would converge to assist and provide support programs and services in the planning and implementation of programs related to the reintegration and development of former combatants.

In South Cotabato, she said, at least 15 former rebels are set to receive livelihood assistance while six more are undergoing evaluation for immediate assistance under the reintegration program.

With the implementation of the enhanced reintegration framework, Padua said they are targeting to assist some 200 rebel returnees per year or a total of 1,200 individuals in six years, which marks the third phase of the program.

She pointed out that the achievement of such targets hinges on the participation of their local partners, specifically the local government units.

“We will be signing a memorandum of agreement to facilitate the implementation of the program and the downloading of funds to the local government,” Padua said.

Under the proposed agreement, the local government is mandated to prepare for the completion, validation and updating of the psycho-social profile of the program beneficiaries and the conduct of local integration planning.

On the other hand, program implementers will work on the identification and assessment of their needs, conduct resource matching and help further build up the commitments of their partner local governments and agencies.

In an interview, Pingoy said the provincial government is committed to provide the necessary assistance and pursue counterpart initiatives that would complement the implementation of the reintegration program.

“We will ensure that the program will achieve its goals as it will help guarantee a peaceful South Cotabato,” he said. (PNA)

DCT/FFC/AVE/AC

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