CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – The Department of National Defense (DND), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to jointly implement 643 high-impact peace and development projects across the country under the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) program.
During the signing of the agreement on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, and Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. vowed to implement the PHP505.3 million worth of PAMANA projects with “utmost accountability and transparency.”
The PAMANA program is in line with the national government’s “whole-of-nation approach” to end local communist armed, as embodied in Executive Order 70 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in 2018.
PAMANA projects for FY 2020 include 247 water supply systems, 157 livelihood programs, 111 community infrastructure, 66 rural electrification systems, 34 agricultural support initiatives, 26 capacity-building interventions, and two agri-fishery enterprises to be carried out in remote and conflict-affected areas.
Undersecretary Isidro L. Purisima, the OPAPP deputy presidential adviser for operations, underscored the importance of PAMANA projects in addressing the roots of the decades-long communist rebellion.
“The program enables national line agencies and local government units to work together in order to deliver conflict-sensitive and peace-promoting (CSPP) projects to communities that have been left in the fringes of development,” Purisima said.
A new era of governance
For some time, the nationwide implementation of PAMANA projects was temporarily suspended due to allegations of corruption linked to the previous administrators of the program.
“There was a time that these PAMANA funds were actually used in politics, some were still unaccounted for. So that is what we call deprivation of services to our people,” Año said.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. showed a tripartite memorandum of agreement for the implementation of the PAMANA projects. (Photo courtesy of OPAPP)
He cited the situation in remote, conflict-affected areas, which explains the reason why many village folk, particularly those in the hinterlands, are being exploited by the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“For the longest time, communities riddled with issues like poverty, injustice and bad governance were led to believe that government, which should be serving the people, are non-existent, and that progress can only be achieved through armed struggle,” Año said.
He said recruitment strategies by the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF) “will soon fray, because now, even far-flung, poverty-stricken and vulnerable areas will have access to basic public services.”
Partners for peace
Under the MOA signed by the agencies, OPAPP shall provide resources and technical assistance, among others, to DILG and DND during the implementation of the PAMANA projects for this year (2020).
Based on the General Appropriations Act for 2020, PAMANA projects will be implemented by local government units (LGUs), while the DND, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will monitor and supervise the implementation of the projects together with OPAPP and DILG project management teams.
The DILG shall help OPAPP oversee, monitor and validate the implementation of PAMANA projects while ensuring the active participation of local chief executives, DILG field offices, and other community stakeholders.
“The DILG commits to ensuring the full support of our LGUs, led by our local chief executives, in this harmony-establishing endeavor,” Año said.
Based on the provisions of the MOA, the DND, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines, shall undertake PAMANA projects in critical areas where the security of the project is a major issue. In such situations, the AFP’s Engineering Unit shall take over project implementation in close consultation and in coordination with OPAPP and LGUs. The AFP shall also conduct social preparation activities and other humanitarian efforts in the beneficiary barangays.
Lorenzana pledged that under his watch, together with Año and Galvez, PAMANA funds shall be utilized efficiently, with integrity, and in accordance with the principles of good governance.
“With the tripartite MOA we have signed today, binding the OPAPP, the DILG and the DND to effectively implement PAMANA projects for this year and the next, we are duty-bound to be prudent stewards of public funds,” Lorenzana said, as he stressed that the funds shall be accounted for up to the last centavo.
Meanwhile, Lorenzana also recognized that military interventions and community-level development initiatives should go hand-in-hand in order to effectively resolve the communist insurgency.
“Local armed conflicts cannot be addressed by military solution alone. Matagal na nating alam ‘yan. Hindi pwedeng bara-bara lang ito (We knew that already. We should do it very carefully),” Lorenzana said.
For his part, Galvez believes that PAMANA projects will enable last-mile communities to experience the dividends of economic progress while helping to ensure their safety and security.
“We believe that capacitating LGUs will create a domino effect, as better services translate into economic opportunities for the people. In short, they shall serve as examples that good things come to those who choose the path of peace,” Galvez said.
“With the presence of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, residents, especially in conflict-affected and conflict-vulnerable communities, shall be protected from lawless elements who seek to spread fear and violence,” he added.
With Lorenzana, Año, and Galvez at the helm of the PAMANA program, the implementation of projects are expected to be faster and easier, since the three have been closely working together, particularly during the five-month liberation Marawi City.
Galvez served under Lorenzana’s command as part of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion at the height of the communist insurgency in Davao City from 1986 to 1989.
PAMANA is a national government convergence program that provides much-needed development assistance such as infrastructure projects and livelihood packages to remote, conflict-affected communities across the country.
The program will largely complement the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s localized peace engagements, the AFP’s Community Support Program, and the DILG’s Retooled Community Support Program being implemented at the municipal and barangay level, Galvez said.
Also present during the MoA signing were: AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Felimon T. Santos Jr.; DND Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans and Retiree Affairs and Task Force Balik Loob Head Reynaldo B. Mapagu; DND Undersecretary for Special Affairs Arnel M. Duco; DND Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs Josue S. Gaverza, Jr.; DND Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs Angelito M. de Leon; DILG Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs Francisco R. Cruz; AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Maj. Gen. Andres C. Centino, J3; AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations, Maj. Gen. Edgardo Y. de Leon, J7; Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process for Finance and Administrative Services, OPAPP Undersecretary Arnulfo R. Pajarillo; OPAPP Assistant Secretary for Reconciliation and Unity and PAMANA National Program Manager Andres S. Aguinaldo, Jr.; OPAPP Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs Agripino G. Javier; OPAPP Director for MNLF Concerns Department Jana Jill Gallardo; OPAPP Director for Localized Peace Engagements Department Maria Carla Munsayac-Villarta and OPAPP Director for RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG and CBA-CPLA Concerns Department Susan H. Marcaida. (OPAPP-PR)