THE Davao City Peace Advisory Council (DC Peace) is eyeing to officially launch its proposed peace building programs this May 9 in Paquibato District.

“We are now finalizing the programs and projects for the area,” DC-Peace Development spokesperson lawyer Elisa Lapiña said in yesterday’s I-Speak media forum.

Lapiña said this is after they have officially presented to Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio last March 12 their recommendations that came out from the consultations they have conducted with the community members of the Paquibato area.

Davao City Social Services and Development head Maria Luisa T. Bermudo, said the consultations included 14 barangays - 13 from Paquibato and Barangay Dominga, Calinan District.

“It was participated by farmers association, women sector, youth, Indigenous People and the barangay captains,” Bermudo, who is also a member of the DC-Peace Development, said.

She said the issues identified in the area revolve around security, health concerns, education, infrastructure, and livelihood.

Malabog Barangay Captain Jesse Areja, DC-Peace Development member, noted the positive feedback of people to the consultations, saying that it allowed the people to raise their concerns especially their take on the presence of military.

“It became a remedy of the fear of the people to the military because the DC Peace Development facilitates between civilian and the military,” he said.

Areja said the fear of the people to the military can be traced back to history of abuse experienced by people during Marcos regime.

Lapiña also added they also found that misunderstanding and language barrier exist between the military and the residents in the area.

“Na misunderstood nila ang mga sundalo, feeling nila imbestigahan dayon sila (They misunderstood the soldiers; they feel that they will be immediately subjected to investigation),” she said.

She added that residents living in the area speak only Bisaya and the language of IPs, while the soldiers assigned in the area are usually from other parts of the country and speak of a different language.

Bermudo said the military has expressed willingness to be trained to bridge the language barrier and properly communicate to the grassroots.

Areja said right now they are slowly building the trust of the residents in the area in the military, and they also ensure that for residents not to be afraid to any military officer, they also agreed that a barangay official will accompany a member of the community who will be called by a military officer.

Lapiña said all the activities done in Paquibato, particularly on the grassroots, are done with the coordination of the DC-Peace Development.

She said through the presence of DC-Peace Development in the area, people can immediately clarify news that widely concerns them, most recent was the pronouncement of the president’s plan on the residents in the area of their ancestral domain and would invite investors to their land.

She said that on May 9, aside from the projects to be launched, the composition of the Peace 911, which is the implementing arm of the DC-Peace Development will also be announced.

She added that existing employees of the city government will be employed as members of the task group.