Budgetary constraints should not compromise peace efforts: OPAPP

Budgetary constraints should not compromise peace efforts: OPAPP

MANILA – Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Wednesday called on the Senate to approve its proposed PHP4.5 billion budget for 2022, saying budgetary constraints amid the Covid-19 pandemic should not compromise the lives of millions of Filipinos in the conflict-stricken areas of the country.

“While our country faces immense challenges in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic, the precious lives of millions of Filipinos in conflict-affected areas should not be compromised by budgetary constraints,” Galvez said during the Senate finance committee hearing.

“Beyond all of the signed peace agreements, documents and formalities, we recommend that we should not forget the human cost that any delays will inflict on vulnerable communities,” he added.

Galvez said the proposed 2022 OPAPP budget includes PHP177 million for the National Amnesty Commission (NAC) wherein 8,700 former rebels and insurgents will benefit once Congress approves their amnesty documents.

OPAPP, he said, has also allotted PHP569 million for the security component of the Philippine Government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (GPH-MILF) Peace Process for the Phase 3 decommissioning of 14,000 MILF combatants.

He said budget has also been allocated for the continuous rollout of the campaign to address security challenges for the disbandment of the private armed groups (PAGs), training and deployment of more Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPST), and programs to control the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALWs) in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

“Our purpose is that at the time of the elections we significantly disband the PAGs,” Galvez said.

He said PHP175 million was also allotted for the transformation six MILF camps into peaceful and productive communities and for the continuation of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation (TJR) roadmap.

For 2020 and 2021, Galvez said OPAPP has assisted 6,000 families in MNLF communities through provision of food supplies and hygiene kits to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 pandemic with 11,497 individuals enrolled in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

He said the government has decommissioned 30 percent of the total 40,000 MILF combatants “since we launched the second phase of the decommissioning August in 2019.”

Galvez reported that OPAPP has not been flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) as he thanked the senators for supporting their budget for this year.

“Allow me to note that for the first time OPAPP has been rendered an unqualified opinion on fairness of representation of its financial statements,” he said.

He also said OPAPP has been nominated by the COA to the Association of Government Accountants of the Philippines (AGAP) outstanding accounting offices after gaining a rating of 95 percent from the previous 70 percent. (PNA)

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