Philippines: Dureza Bares New Program for Ex-Rebels

Apr. 12, 2007

12 April 2007

MANILAThe creation of a national committee that would assist the nation’s former armed rebels lead normal lives is vital to the overall peace process, the government’s top peace adviser said.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s signing of an Administrative Order creating the National Committee on Social Integration (NCSI) is essential to the search for a just, lasting, and sustainable peace in the country.

The national committee will implement a more enhanced and comprehensive assistance program that covers management of forces and arms of former rebels and their transition to civilian life.

One feature of the program is the collection of high-powered firearms from unauthorized civilians and their outright destruction or decommissioning.

Secretary Dureza said A.O. 172 signed last March 23 will enhance the government’s affirmative action to attend to armed elements who want to live peaceful and productive lives.

This will boost development especially at the countryside, Dureza stressed.

The NCSI, under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), will be tasked to implement the Social Integration Program (SIP) for all armed rebel elements in the country.

Dureza designated Assistant Director General Zenonida Brosas of the National Security Council (NSC) as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the newly created body.

Indirectly responding to the statements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Dureza clarified that the government’s efforts to forge a negotiated principled settlement with rebel groups like the MILF is a priority.

He added that the SIP is not directed or meant to undermine the ongoing peace negotiations with the MILF.

“On the contrary, addressing the concerns of other armed rebels who can disrupt or negate the gains that we are trying to sustain in our negotiations with the MILF will strengthen the peace process and provide a more sustainable peace environment for all,” Dureza said.

OIC Brosas meanwhile disclosed that organizational matters are now being done while piloting of the program will begin in Sulu.

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