TACLOBAN CITY – Northern Samar’s provincial government will enter a tripartite agreement with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to establish the first Peace Center in Eastern Visayas.
Northern Samar, one of OPAPRU’s priority areas, will receive PHP5 million for its operationalization once the documentary requirements are processed and approved, the provincial government announced on Tuesday.
The center is a mechanism to ensure the effective and efficient implementation and continuous monitoring of the provincial government’s local peace engagement and transformation program.
“The reintegration program should be civilian lead. It is the community that encourages the rebels to surrender. The peace center becomes a sanctuary for former rebels that chose the path of peace and reconciliation,” Imelda Bonifacio, OPAPRU regional program manager, said in a statement.
The center, known as Kauswagan (progress) Village, will rise within a seven-hectare property in Cablangan village in Mondragon town donated by the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority.
The provincial government, the provincial task force to end local communist armed conflict (PTF-ELCAC), and the National Housing Authority (NHA) will provide funds with support coming from the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police.
Governor Edwin Ongchuan signed on Monday a resolution passed by the PTF-ELCAC requesting the NHA to fund the 34 housing units in the Kauswagan Village intended for former rebels and their families as part of their reintegration process.
The project is crucial to the local government’s efforts to prevent the New People’s Army (NPA) from recovering cleared areas.
The Philippine Army reported that at least 237 NPA-influenced villages have been cleared and two remaining active guerilla fronts have been dismantled in the province.
Despite this, vertical forces are still active and will continuously secure the cleared areas, according to the military. (PNA)