Delays in peace agreement mroe expensive – Sec. Cabral

She said upsurges in violence unmake inroads in social work, causing them to do things again without really making appropriate impact to intended beneficiaries, especially to evacuees.

Cabral told MindaNews in an interview Thursday at The Marco Polo they are also closely looking at the development at the on-going concerns over changes in the composition of the government panel negotiating peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

She admitted, though, that she is not privy to the dynamics in the selection process but is also concerned over its impact to the peace process and their social work.

Cabral said she is sure the government will take its prerogative well on the matter.

She cited government efforts for social interventions in remote areas, like building schools, only to find out it will be destroyed again by new armed clashes.

"We make advances in these places on rehabilitative work, only to find out it will be destroyed as new rounds of violence arise," she lamented.

Cabral said doing social work in conflict affected areas in Mindanao has made the work of the DSWD more dangerous, too.

She said there are areas that their personnel could not enter but they have to reach evacuees pushed over by the conflicts.

She said they are looking forward when the conflict areas already have "peace and order" so that they can easily work for necessary interventions in those areas.

Pombaen Kader, DSWD assistant secretary for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, confirmed Cabral's statement saying not only expenses for physical interventions like housing for the evacuees are lost, but also government expenses paid to the work of psychologists and other consultants who repeatedly attend to the victims of the conflicts.

She cited the unending strain of wars since the late 1990s that wreaked unpeace, mostly in the ARMM.

Kader does not want to comment on the recent gaps in President Arroyo's acceptance of the government's chief peace negotiator's courtesy resignation.

But she said hopefully it will not impact on the peace process.

"Everybody wants to settle for peace pending signing of the peace agreement. I hope they will not prolong the agony of the people who thirst for peace and development in Mindanao," Kader said.

"If the peace process will be prolonged, we cannot predict that there will be no clashes," she said.

She cited housing, day care centers, multi-purpose halls and other projects in Sulu and Maguindanao that had been "put to waste repeatedly because they were built and destroyed repeatedly."

DSWD officials from around the country are in Davao City for their mid-year National Management Development Conference on June 20-23. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)