UNITY AND HEALING. Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman emphasizes the significance of unity and healing in achieving lasting peace and economic prosperity in the country, during the culmination activity of the National Peace Consciousness Month at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on Friday (Sept. 30, 2022). Pangandaman said the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is a “historic win” for the entire nation as it provides the necessary conditions for enduring peace and sustained socio-economic development. (PNA photo by Alfred Frias)

MANILA – Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman has emphasized the importance of unity and healing in achieving lasting peace and economic prosperity in the country.

“We have always heard of unity amidst diversity. And we know that this has been the case in the Philippines,” Pangandaman said during the culmination activity of the National Peace Consciousness Month held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on Friday.

“Let us all be united in seeking peace as we move forward in our agenda for prosperity for the region,” she added during her speech.

Closing the 2022 National Peace Consciousness Month, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) launched the Gawad Kapayapaan Peace Awards Project, which seeks to recognize the country’s peace advocates and champions and present best practices in peace-building that can be replicated and sustained.

Anchored on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s call for national unity, this year’s Peace Month carries the theme, “Pagkakaisa at Paghilom: Isang Bansa para sa Kapayapaan” to remind Filipinos that through unity and cooperation, the nation can attain genuine and long-lasting peace.

Pangandaman, a Muslim with roots in Marawi City, said the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is a “historic win for the whole country,” given the autonomous government’s initiatives in pursuit of “enduring peace and sustained socio-economic development.”

She said the stronger cooperation between the national government and the Bangsamoro government would give the country a “bright future.”

“I believe that the rest of the Philippines and BARMM can grow together, as two governments work in support of each other towards a common goal – to provide better living conditions for every Filipino,” Pangandaman said.

“With this in mind, I am happy to say that at this point in our history, we can proudly say that we have achieved peace and we are determined to help in the achievement of our call for peace, reconciliation, and unity to achieve a just and lasting peace for the nation and for all Filipinos.”

She said the government’s call for peace, reconciliation, and unity is vital in bringing progress and development to the country.

Pangandaman also vowed to support BARMM to help the region flourish and enable Mindanao to “(shine) as the land of promise.”

“Over the past decades, we knew that Mindanao holds so many seeds of success and we saw these seeds germinate, particularly in the agriculture and tourism sector. But we haven't seen the fruits yet,” she said.

“For many years, the promise of fruitfulness has been obscured because of conflict. But now that we have achieved peace, certainly, we will see one fruit coming after one another and all of our people will reap its goodness,” she added.

Under the proposed 2023 national budget, about PHP852.9 million will be earmarked for the Normalization Program in the Bangsamoro region and PHP36.1 million will be used for the provision of socio-economic development assistance for former combatants of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The proposed funds are on top of the PHP74.4 billion allocated for BARMM, Pangandaman noted.

“As a daughter of Mindanao, it is my personal dream to see it thrive. We dream of prosperity for the Mindanao of prosperity for the Philippines,” she said. “I will ensure that this funding will be equitably distributed throughout the Philippines to ensure that no one will be left behind.” (PNA)