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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, September 20, 2014
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‘Peace dividends
changes lives’

Undersecretary Maria Cleofe Gettie Sandoval of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, said yesterday that the “peace dividends”, from the agreement between the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa Pilipinas-Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade and the government, are now changing the lives of the families and kin of former combatants.

In a statement issued by OPPAP, Sandoval said “We see how peace impacts in the lives of families and individuals”. She cited the employment of 95 former rebels belonging to the RPA-ABB, now known as KAPATIRAN, as forest guards, through the DENR-PAMANA partnership in the implementation of National Greening Program in Negros and Panay.

These Bantay Gubat employees patrol forests for timber poachers and illegal loggers, she added.

The RPM-P-RPA-ABB signed a peace agreement with the government in Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental in year 2000. The signing of the closure agreement is now imminent, Sandoval said.

In both the RPM-P-RPA-ABB and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army peace tracks, Sandoval also reported that scholarships under the Commission on Higher Education Study Grant Program and health insurance coverage by PhilHealth, have also ensured that families of former combatants as well as immediate community members, have basic social protection benefits.

In Negros Occidental, former rebels belonging to the New People’s Army, who surrendered to the government, also availed of the Negros Occidental Comprehensive Health Care Program, military records show.

Sandoval acknowledged the commitment of RPM-P-RPA-ABB and CPLA to the peace process. He said “We are now seeing communities reaping the benefits of peace through the different community development projects, employment opportunities and livelihood support under Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan.”

Peace is a shared responsibility and through sustaining partnerships, the responsibility to preserve its gains is cemented, Sandoval said, but admitted that there is still much that needs to be done.*GPB

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