'Peace center' to rise in Baguio City

PEACE CENTER. OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (2nd from left) and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong (right) lead the groundbreaking rites for the first-ever "Peace Center" in Northern Luzon on Feb. 16, 2024. The facility worth PHP50 million will also serve as a peace knowledge and learning center in the city.
PEACE CENTER. OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (2nd from left) and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong (right) lead the groundbreaking rites for the first-ever "Peace Center" in Northern Luzon on Feb. 16, 2024. The facility worth PHP50 million will also serve as a peace knowledge and learning center in the city. Photo courtesy of OPAPRU via PNA

THE first-ever "Peace Center'' in Northern Luzon will soon rise in Baguio City, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) said on Monday.

OPAPRU chief Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and Mayor Benjamin Magalong led the groundbreaking rites and signed the memorandum of agreement for the construction of the facility on Feb. 16, the peace body said in a news release.

The facility worth PHP50 million would be built at the Upper Session Road and would house Cordillera-based OPAPRU personnel.

It has a floor area of 3,775 square meters and would also serve as an avenue for the conduct of peace dialogues, capacity and skills training, women and youth peace and security seminars, and the practice of conflict resolution approaches that originated in the Cordillera.

The facility will also serve as a peace knowledge and learning center in the city, as well as a convention center where meetings and seminars can be held.

Magalong said the idea of establishing a peace center in the city started during a casual talk with Galvez at an event in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in September last year.

“He was mentioning to me the different programs of OPAPRU and the fundings for the programs. He also mentioned the peacekeeping and reconciliation programs to which we both agreed to suggest that we can put up a peace and development center here in Baguio City,” Magalong recalled.

The proposed peace and development center was then included in the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) Program fund for fiscal year 2024. The successful inclusion of the project came after a site validation and assessment was made by OPAPRU personnel.

The PAMANA Program is the national government’s peace and development convergence program which forms an integral part of the Philippine comprehensive peace process.

To facilitate the implementation of fiscal year 2024 PAMANA projects and in recognition of the significant role of local government units in peacebuilding, the OPAPRU partnered with the city government of Baguio for the implementation of its project in its area jurisdiction.

“We are looking forward to a very strong partnership and collaboration with regards to this joint venture and that is, the construction of a peace and development center, the first of its kind in Northern Luzon. I also heard that there would be more peace and development centers that will be put up in other parts of this country,” Magalong said.

For his part, Galvez said the peace center shall serve as a concrete symbol of OPAPRU’s recognition of the Cordillera's “key role in peacebuilding that is deeply rooted in its rich culture and traditions such as the Bodong system, Pechen, Tung-Tong and Mediation.”

“This facility will not only house OPAPRU personnel, but more importantly, enable our office to make its presence more felt here in the region. Through the center, we will ensure that all local peace and development efforts will be well-monitored, well-coordinated and well-supported by OPAPRU through its close collaboration with other stakeholders in the region,” he said. (PNA)

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