Negros Occidental civilian and military leaders yesterday hailed the imminent signing of the closure of the peace agreement between the government and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas, Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (Tabara-Paduano Group), and expressed hope that the New People’s Army will also change its mind and abandon the armed struggle.
Col. Oscar Lactao, who supervises the internal peace and development campaign of the Philippine Army in Negros Occidental, said they are talking to each other, and are finding doable solutions to problems they have listed.
Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. also said he was elated by the impending signing of the peace pact, stressing that Negrenses have been waiting for it for so long.
Marañon reiterated his call for the NPA in Negros island to accept his invitation for them to join the crusade to fight and alleviate poverty in the province.
Lactao said he is still hoping that Frank Fernandez, secretary of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros, his deputy Cleofe Lagtapon, and recently-released NPA regional commander Romeo Nanta will follow what the RPA-ABB leaders did.
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process has proposed a P279.16 million budget for livelihood and development programs for conflict-affected communities identified by the RPM-P-RPA-ABB Tabara-Paduano Group.
OPAPP Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo said the peace agreement between the rebel group and the government is targeted to be signed by President Benigno Aquino III, either before his State of the Nation Address on July 23, or at the end of the month.
Of the amount earmarked for the peace pact, P148.10 million will go to Negros Occidental, Montalbo said.
He also said the development programs for RPM-P-RPA-ABB identified communities will be implemented through the PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan) program, a national government framework and program for peace and development in conflict-affected areas, as well as communities covered by existing peace agreements, and not through the rebel group.
The OPAPP is also negotiating with the other RPM-P-RPA-ABB group, which is headed by Nilo de la Cruz.*GPB