Rights group hits OPAPP’s peace business

July 25, 2014

Karapatan today said the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process’ funds from the Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP) is 300-400 percent bigger than its approved budget in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2011 and 2012.

A total of Php 2.294 to 2.542 billion went to OPAPP for 2011 and 2012. The amount covers the combined GAA 2011 and 2012 approved budget of Php of 475 million, and the Php1.819 billion and Php 248 million given through DAP in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Secretary General of Karapatan, Cristina Palabay, said, “Is the OPAPP deliberately evading public scrutiny by not including their proposed projects for proper allocation in the GAA? Did they find DAP as a way to evade scrutiny for the large amount of money that goes to OPAPP?”

Karapatan observed that while OPAPP acknowledged the Php248 million DAP in 2012, the figure was not included in the Malacañang’s release of DAP-funded projects.

“Whatever magic the OPAPP and DBM do, such huge amount of people’s money supposedly spent for the peace initiatives of the government did not translate in concrete gains for the people. At best, only allies of the administration benefited from the DAP funds,” she added.

“The government’s peace initiatives have become a business venture rather than a sincere effort to go into the root causes of the armed conflict and solve poverty, landlessness and joblessness. Presidential pork oils OPAPP to put up every obstacle it can think of in the peace the process, especially with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, as it continues to ignore all previously signed agreements and commitment. The government continues to insist on the surrender of the members of the revolutionary movement as if this will end the armed conflict,” said Palabay.

Even in the guise of livelihood projects through the PAMANA or Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan, Karapatan said OPAPP could not boast of judicious use of billions of people’s money “especially because it is used to finance paramilitary groups like the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) or the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB).” Both groups are involved in several cases of human rights violations in the Cordillera region and Negros provinces, respectively.

The CPLA got Php 264 million supposedly for projects coursed through PAMANA while the RPA-ABB received Php 31 million.

“The peace process should serve the interests of the majority of our people and just a few groups that sow terror. Through DAP the money stolen from the people are used against them. With OPAPP, it becomes worse as paying lip service to the peace process only denies the people of a venue where their basic social and economic problems can be discussed and solved,” ended Palabay.