Negros Occidental has formulated a 5-year peace and development project for conflict-affected communities, which aims to sustain its peace building and development efforts.
Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said he believes the five-year plan is crucial to the resolution of more than four decades of armed conflict in Negros Occidental.
Lactao, who supervises the internal security operations in the province, said it will not only address security and livelihood, but also caused healing and reconciliation towards a sustainable peace for Negros Occidental.
The Provincial Peace Integration and Development Unit, that will handle the integration of RPA-ABB members and rebel returnees, who used to be members of the New People’s Army, into the mainstream society, held its organizational meeting in Talisay City yesterday,
Lactao said the project, has five components, that include security, economic, environment, psycho-social and governance, and will focus on the 96 conflict-affected communities in the province.
The plan is anchored on the attainment of the “ Negros First” program of Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., which gives emphasis to poverty reduction, economic development and food security, improved health care, access to basic education, balanced ecology and risk reduction, and good governance.
While Negros Occidental is classified as a first class province with one of the highest Gross Domestic Products in the country in terms of income, it is as one of the provinces experiencing the longest-running communist insurgency.
Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta, 3rd Infantry Division, said they e are one with the provincial administration in believing that this project is crucial to the resolution of the long overdue armed conflict in Negros Island.
Though the insurgency problem is national in scope, this will shall serve as a local peace initiative that will hasten the national peace process, Mabanta added.* GPB