The closure of the peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Proletarian Army–Alex Boncayao Brigade Tabara-Paduano Group may be signed before the State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III, an official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines yesterday said.
Aquino will deliver his third SONA on July 23.
A member of the negotiating peace panel also said the signing may be held next week, but it was not determined yet if will be done in Malacañang or in Negros Occidental.
Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process is expected Wednesday to brief members of the Provincial Peace and Order Council of Negros Occidental on the imminent signing of the peace agreement.
If the signing pushes through, a DAILY STAR source said it could be among the highlights of Aquino’s SONA.
The RPA-ABB and its political wing, the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas founded by former CPP Visayas Commission secretary Arturo Tabara, entered into peace talks with the government in 2000.
Four years after, Tabara was assassinated in Metro Manila by suspected members of the NPA hit squad. His wife, Veronica, replaced him as the RPM-P secretary.
Montalbo earlier said the key provisions in the agreement are geared towards the transformation of the RPA-ABB into a civilian, political, economic organization, mainstreaming its members into their communities, providing them with livelihood and employment, and moving them towards disarmament and dismantling of their military structure.
Of the more than 800 RPM-P/RPA-ABB members, about 50 percent are in Negros island.
OPAPP is also negotiating with the other group of RPM-P-RPA-ABB, that is headed by Nilo de la Cruz.
Montalbo said the government had appropriated P31 million for the livelihood and development programs in RPM-P-RPA-ABB identified communities in Negros Island, P25 million of which will go to the Occidental side.
An additional P91 million for livelihood and infrastructure projects in Negros Occidental will also be released after the suitability of projects for identified communities and beneficiaries are validated by both parties.
Montalbo said the money will be released to local government units for implementation of projects, and not directly to the RPM-P/RPA-ABB.*GPB