Davao to build college in conflict-torn Paquibato District

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 January) – The city government will set aside P54 million to construct an annex of the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) in Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District to enable more children from poor families to proceed to higher education, Mayor Sara Duterte said.

Duterte told reporters in an interview on Thursday that the budget for the construction of the building would be sourced from the city’s 2020 budget.

She said she hopes to see the building completed by next year or 2022 at the latest.

She said the planned expansion came after the Task Force Peace 911 found out that it’s needed to get more high school graduates in Paquibato to enroll in college.

New People’s Army guerrillas march in Paquibato District in Davao City. Mindanews file photo

The task force leads the implementation of a comprehensive peace-building program of the local government for conflict-affected areas of the city,

It is high time to put up higher educational institution in Paquibato, as its presence would encourage more students, who are constrained financially to afford the expenses of going to college in the downtown area, according to Duterte.

She added Paquibato was chosen to host the USEP-Annex as it aligns with the university’s mandate to reach out to students in conflict-affected areas.

“It’s on track, and this project – the USEP-Annex – is already moving,” she said.

Peace 911 is the successor of the defunct Davao Peace Committee, the local peace panel created to hold localized peace talks with the New People’s Army.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has rejected proposals for localized peace talks.

On December 23 last year, the mayor asked President Duterte to exclude the city from the coverage of the peace talks between the government and the NDFP, saying it would only dampen the gains of Peace 911 in Paquibato’s 13 barangays and Barangay Dominga in Calinan District.

“To be covered by the ceasefire or the peace negotiations will only disrupt and threaten the gains of our process of peace and development in these communities formerly controlled by the terrorists,” she said, alluding to the rebel group.

She claimed that Peace 911, a comprehensive peace-building program of the local government for conflict-affected areas of the city, had successfully removed the remaining communist guerrillas operating in Paquibato and Barangay Dominga.

She said the civilian-led Peace 911 capacitated the Lumad farmers on farming and marketing, and linked them directly to buyers for their produce through the so-called “Peace Economy.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)