More community-based peacebuilding projects to be implemented in SouthCot

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 4 Aug) – The national government has committed to implement more community-based peace-building projects in South Cotabato province and the neighboring areas in the coming months through the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA or Peaceful and Resilient Communities) program.

Secretary Teresita Deles, the Presidential Peace Adviser, said her office is currently working closely with the provincial government of South Cotabato to help advance the implementation of various PAMANA projects in the area.

PAMANA, which is implemented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), is a peace and development program and framework for areas affected by conflict and communities covered by existing peace agreements.

The program aims to reduce poverty, improve governance and empower communities in situations of conflict.

In South Cotabato, Deles said in a statement that the program intends to provide communities with projects funded under the government’s stimulus fund to bring genuine peace and development.

She said its initial beneficiaries are former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) bases that were transformed into peace and development communities as part of the implementation of the 1996 GPH-MNLF final peace agreement.

OPAPP and the local government launched last month a community-based project – peace training center and multi-purpose gymnasium – identified by the residents of Barangay Palian in Tupi town under the PAMANA program.

Declared a peace and development community in 2007, Barangay Palian is one of over 100 peace and development communities in Mindanao that were identified as beneficiaries of the program’s community infrastructure component.

OPAPP earlier allocated P3 million for the implementation of the project, which is due for completion before yearend.

The provincial government, through South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr., provided a counterpart of P1 million for the project.

In Region 12, OPAPP has allocated a total of P30 million for the implementation of development projects, which are based on the specific needs of residents in identified beneficiary-areas or communities.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

The infrastructure and development projects that the program may fund are those related to “connectivity systems; basic services for economic development; agricultural services and industry investments; economic investments in indigenous peoples areas; and disaster-preparedness and climate change adaptations interventions.”

The funds may also be used as a source of subsidy for major projects of local government units with similar objectives and to finance detailed engineering design costs, a project briefer added. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)