THE Kagawasan 143 Peace Center, the first of its kind, was officially inaugurated on September 20, Wednesday, at Camp Bancasi in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte.
The significant milestone was made possible through a collaborative effort between the Provincial Government of Agusan del Norte and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (Opapru) in Eastern Mindanao, marking its launch as part of Opapru’s celebration of the 2023 National Peace Consciousness Month.
Modelled after Davao City's successful Peace 911 initiative, the Kagawasan 143 Peace Center will serve as the nerve centre for many initiatives, plans, and services to enhance the lives of Former Rebels (FRs).
Agusan del Norte Governor Maria Angelica Rosedell Amante expressed her optimism about the center's potential to lead in broader collaborations for peace-building initiatives, programs, and projects throughout the province.
The center aims to provide essential support to the communities and families of former rebels.
"This coordination will be directed toward streamlining the delivery of fundamental services and social interventions for FRs, their families, and the wider communities," Amante said.
Lawyer Elisa D. Evangelista-Lapiña, director of Opapru for Eastern Mindanao, highlighted that the peace center would serve as a "hub" for community engagement, enabling FRs to gather, discuss neighborhood issues, exchange ideas, and foster a more cohesive and united community.
Lapiña said Opapru and Kagawasan 143 would work closely together and actively participate in and support activities for peace-building in the province.
She also underscored that the center's establishment aligns with the agency's Localized Peace Engagement (LPE) initiatives and its Transformation Program for FRs, conducted in partnership with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) LPE Cluster.
Opapru will initially allocate approximately P5 million for the center's operations, supporting the implementation of the Opapru LPE and Transformative Program.
"The Kagawasan 143 Peace Center stands as a testament to our collective commitment to building bridges of understanding and support for those who have chosen the path of peace and reconciliation while also providing them with the necessary resources and opportunities to reintegrate into society successfully," Lapiña said.
She added that the Peace Centre will closely monitor, evaluate, and oversee the Transformation Program, focusing on four key pillars: Security, Confidence-Building Measures, Healing and Reconciliation, and Socio-Economic Development.
Additionally, Opapru distributed some 500 sacks of rice to the FRs residing at Agusan del Norte's Halfway House Livelihood Training Center in Barangay Bancasi, Butuan City. RGP