Forty-seven mayors from the five provinces of Panay Island joined Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus G. Dureza in a meeting in Laua-an, Antique on Tuesday where he discussed a new paradigm in moving the peace process forward.
Dureza stressed during the meeting with mayors that the peace negotiations and the development projects should go hand-in-hand, in contrast with the old ways of pursuing peace negotiations before implementing such projects.
Dureza also cited the integration of conflict-sensitive and peace-promoting approaches in the peace agency’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) projects, which do not only provide platforms for community development but also create an enabling environment conducive for sustaining peace.
PAMANA is the national government’s convergence program that carries out various development initiatives in remote, conflict-affected communities across the country, ensuring that the needs of the marginalized and underserved sectors are addressed.
Dureza was in Laua-an to attend the celebration of the municipality’s 103rd founding anniversary and 13th Pahinis Festival.
During his inspirational message among 3,000 Laua-anons, he emphasized that addressing the root causes of conflict was how peace workers can win with their advocacy.
“At OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process), while we deal with these negotiations, we also do projects like PAMANA to improve the lives of the people. We make sure na dapat peaceful ang isang area bago kami maka-adapt ng projects sa inyo,” Dureza said.
He added that the agency’s priority was not only on the negotiating tables with the insurgent groups but more about the public which he coined as “the bigger table”.
However, Dureza stressed that in order to truly promote peace, the public must first develop peace within themselves.
“We have to unite for peace together because the real work to sustain it is through the communities. But peace must come from the inner person. You cannot bring peace if you don’t have it inside because you radiate to the people what you have,” he said.