BACOLOD

Opapp eyes to seal RPA closure agreement before 2022

THE Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (Opapp) is eyeing a closure or fulfillment of the agreement signed between the government and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas or Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPM-P/RPA-ABB) before President Rodrigo Duterte’s term will end on 2022.

Milo Ibrado, special assistant the secretary of Opapp, said on Tuesday, December 11, they are now finishing the implementing documents, which define almost all particular aspects of the peace process.

In the 2000 agreement, there were areas that were not very clear, he said.

“There was before an implementing document during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but it was not very clear, so we have a final implementing document that will define all aspect of implementation and majority of these programs and projects will be implemented in three years period from now on, so probably until the end of the term of the President,” Ibrado said.

He said the implementing document will be signed and what is left now is the concurrence of all the departments concerned like the Department of National Defense, Department of Interior and Local Government, Social Welfare and Development Office, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The said agencies have already signed except the Department of Justice, which is very important because of the legal aspect.

"We are awaiting that final concurrence from the DOJ which is the last agency," he added.

He pointed out it that one of the major concerns is the alleged political offenders or political prisoners wherein 50 of them are incarcerated or others were at large facing cases. The guidelines state that when they committed the offenses, it was during the time that they were working for a political cause and there were various offenses from murder down to the destruction of properties.

“Those who were not yet convicted will be considered for amnesty while those who were convicted will be considered for a pardon. This is part of the process. The Presidential Committee on Granting of Bail and Pardon handles the matter. Within the next three years, we have the commitment to the peace agreement,” Ibrado said.

Ibrado made the statement during the Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) awarding ceremony held at the Provincial Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City on Tuesday, December 11.

The CBFMA is intended for the Peace and Development Community in Kabankalan City.

Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Edgardo Rostata said that in Negros Occidental, there are three CBFMAs -- in Kabankalan City with 178 hectares, Cadiz City with 232 hectares, and San Carlos City with 230 hectares that will serve as settlement areas for the profiled members of the RPM-P/RPA-ABB as beneficiaries.

The program is covered with the Memorandum of Agreement as Tenurial Instrument within the protected area where the members of the Kapatiran will serve as forest guards.

Veronica Tabara of RPM-P/RPA-ABB and Kapatiran said this program is already part of the agreement between the government and their group in 2000.

"Under the 2000 agreement in the cessation of hostilities, we have agreed to stay all together in the area as temporary shelter," she said, adding that Opapp will assist them in building their houses at the settlement areas with the help of the army's engineering brigade.

“We also have areas being worked out in E.B. Magalona with 70 members, and in Hinigaran settlement area, with 40. We also have in Antique, Aklan, Iloilo, and Bukidnon. We will build houses and have livelihood projects based on the tenurial instrument on the guidelines of the DENR's CRMF Community Framework Plan,” she said.

“We will help in the reforestation project. This is nationwide. Our objective is to help. We just want to have a decent life as mainstream members of the society,” Tabara added.

“This is in preparation for the closure agreement although we don't call it closure agreement because the peace process has no closure as it is always a process because of conflicts and problems along the way. So we call it clarification based on the implementing document that we signed,” she added.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Assistant Secretary Joan Lagunda said they have three commitment under the program and it is to provide employment, as 100 of them were hired as forest guards.

“We have 42 in Panay Island and 58 here in Negros Occidental. We are done with our homework and we will just give technical assistance in the framework,” she said. (TDE)


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