Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

Senate greenlights proposed P7-B budget for peace process office

Rappler.com

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Senate greenlights proposed P7-B budget for peace process office

PROPOSE. Senator Robinhood Padilla proposes the channeling unused funds in the BARMM to provide livelihood assistance to rebel returnees.

Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB

Senator Robinhood Padilla urges BARMM to contribute to funding initiatives under the Normalization Track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – The Senate on Wednesday, November 15, approved the proposed 2024 budget of almost P7 billion for the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity’s (OPAPRU).

Much of the proposed budget would fund the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Program, which implements peacebuilding and socio-economic interventions in conflict-affected areas, said the OPAPRU in a press statement.

With the Senate’s approval, the budget will move to the bicameral session for inclusion in the 2024 national budget.

Senators expressed full support for OPAPRU’s work for the transformation process of former combatants and the implementation of signed peace agreements, particularly in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The OPAPRU manages, directs, integrates, and supervises the implementation of the comprehensive peace process.

During the deliberations, Senator Robinhood Padilla recommended that the BARMM contribute to funding initiatives under the Normalization Track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). Currently, there’s a shortfall, with only P899.3 million set aside for 2024 against the required P9 billion for the reintegration of 40,000 MILF combatants and their communities.

Padilla said the government should ensure funds for the livelihood of rebel returnees, including 14,000 from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). This, he said, would safeguard the gains of the government’s peace efforts and break the cycle where armed conflict ends but may resurface due to the poverty of surrendering families.

He said older combatants may have rejoined society, but their children and grandchildren, influenced by poverty, may take up arms again. 

Padilla cautioned that neglecting combatants could jeopardize the normalization process. 

Senator Ronald dela Rosa, the sponsor of OPAPRU’s proposed 2024 budget, noted that each MILF returnee is supposed to receive around P1 million, but the budget falls short, with only P899.314 million proposed for 2024. – Rappler.com

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