LEGAZPI CITY – Recognizing the crucial role of the academe in promoting and sustaining peace, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) is set to award PHP50 million to Bicol University (BU) for the construction of its proposed national hub for peace and development in Daraga, Albay.
In his message during the opening ceremony of the KaPEACEtahan Peace Fair at BU on Friday, Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said he is eyeing the university to become the bridge towards mainstreaming peace education in the region.
Galvez said they will come up with an executive order that will strengthen and mainstream peace education in basic higher education and other institutions, with the end goal of establishing peace, unity and development centers in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
In an interview, BU president Dr. Baby Boy Benjamin Nebres III said the university is looking forward to the OPAPRU grant as the construction of the hub is aligned with his vision to make Bicol University a “university for humanity.”
The proposed peace hub is slated to be constructed in 2024 or early 2025.
Aside from the construction of the peace and development hub, Nebres bared they were also eyeing another project that aims to integrate peace studies in the general education curriculum (GEC).
As proposed by lawyer Alex Nepomuceno, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Nebres said he is hopeful that OPAPRU can fund the training of the teachers who will take on the project.
As the leading university in the Bicol region, BU has been a staunch supporter of peace education in the region, offering degree courses in Peace Studies and Peace and Security Administration.
Holistic approach to sustain peace
Lauding the local initiatives of Albay in promoting and sustaining peace in the province, Galvez bared that Bicol is poised to receive PHP654 million under the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) Program, which will be used to finance various projects for conflict-affected areas in the region.
By implementing a “holistic approach,” through the provision of livelihood, infrastructure, education and water system programs, he said the government aims to end the local communist insurgency by the end of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s term.
In a speech delivered by Polangui Mayor Adrian Salceda, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda underscored “peace is a fiscal issue” as “peace makes prosperity, and prosperity makes peace.”
He cited the townships of Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga and Legazpi as models of how peace spurs economic activity, as some barangays in these towns were once considered heavily-conflicted areas.
Salceda stressed the importance of putting in place an aggressive social development platform to address the causes of conflict.
In a province ravaged by multiple hazards, he said Albay’s initiative to produce a college graduate in every family and its thrust to make disaster risk reduction a focal point of governance has transformed these townships into economic and tourism centers in the Bicol region.
In his message to local insurgents, Galvez urged them to avail of the amnesty and transformation program offered by the government.
Citing the case of Sulu, which is now “Abu-Sayyaf free,” he called for the “end of the arm struggle.”
“Let’s give peace a chance. We should end the arm struggle…abandon the arm struggle. We need to cooperate, unify with the government, and we can find peace in our country,” Galvez said.
The two-day KaPEACEtahan Peace Fair in Albay is part of the activities lined up for the celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month. The opening ceremony kicked off with the “Bike for Peace” activity and ended with a peace concert. (PNA)