By Francis Wakefield
The national government’s programs should be designed to strengthen and empower communities and at the same time promote conflict sensitivity and peace promotion.
This was emphasized by Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Assistant Secretary Yeshter Donn Baccay during the two-day Pamana at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Midterm Assessment Meeting held in Davao City.
PAMANA, which is being implemented by OPAPP, is the national government’s convergence program that aims to provide a wide range of development assistance packages to far-flung, underdeveloped, and conflict-affected areas across the country.
“We need to make these projects inclusive and participatory. They (people) should own these projects,” Baccay told provincial and municipal local government officials coming from Regions 11 and 12.
He said more importantly, PAMANA projects should make residents feel the presence of government in their communities and enable them to reap the “peace dividends.”
According to Baccay, people should not wait for peace agreements to be signed before development projects are carried out.
“Even if the peace talks are still ongoing, development projects should already be brought into the communities,” he said.
Baccay noted that through the implementation of these projects, the government is bringing itself closer to the people and at the same time promoting the principles of transparency and accountability among LGUs.
“The people should feel that government is now in their areas,” he said, adding these projects will help address perceived “social injustices” among residents of beneficiary communities.
Baccay said this is the main reason OPAPP is actively engaging other national government agencies and partner LGUs.
“You (LGUs) understand the needs of your people. You really have a big role to play,” he said.
Baccay also called on LGUs to help OPAPP promote the concept of CSPP (Conflict-Sensitive and Peace-Promoting) among their respective constituents.
“CSPP training should be integrated into PAMANA projects as part of social preparations,” he said.
“Our goal here is to address challenges (in project implementation). OPAPP is here to support you,” Baccay said.