OPAPP seeks 1,000% budget increase in 2017
MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) is asking Congress for a budget increase of over 1,000% in 2017 – from more than P700 million in 2016 to P8 billion in 2017.
Secretary Jesus Dureza on Tuesday, September 27, said the huge jump in allocation is due to the agency's implementation of the Pamana program, which costs P7 billion in lump sum funds.
The Pamana program, which stands for Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Peaceful and Resilient Communities), is the government's peace and development framework for empowering conflict-affected areas in the country.
Without the Pamana allocation, the proposed OPAPP budget for 2017 is only P601 million.
"There's a big lump sum – P7 billion for implementation. That's the reason why there's a big jump in the agency budget of P8 billion totally," Dureza told Senator Panfilo Lacson, who was the only senator present during the budget hearing.
Dureza said Pamana projects for conflict-torn areas are currently being handled by different departments, so these aren't fully implemented.
Dureza said President Rodrigo Duterte has already given a go signal to expand the mandate of the OPAPP to include implementation of development projects, pending an executive order. The agency's original role, Dureza said, is limited to initiating peace efforts.
But should the OPAPP not get the EO in time for the budget plenary, Dureza said he would ask the Senate and the House of Representatives to include a special provision authorizing the agency to implement Pamana projects.
“Just to make it very clear – the P8-billion budget is still dependent on the EO that gives us the mandate to implement it. If the Senate and House will agree with us that we implement these projects and we are accountable for these funds, there will be a specific provision in the GAA to enable us do this. Otherwise, we revert back to our original work which is just peace negotiations," he said.
Asked if the role expansion would be too much for the agency to handle, Dureza said the OPAPP would just get projects that it can implement. He added that they would partner with other government and non-governmental organizations.
"We will only get projects that we can implement. Under our wing, that doesn't prevent us from partnering with CSOs, LGUs, pero kami magpupukpok, kami responsible na (but we'll monitor, we'll be responsible for the projects). We can even come up with project monitoring." – Rappler.com