Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process signed the Administrative Protocol of Aid Management for the Implementation of the Project “Mainstreaming Peace and Development in Local Governance in the Philippines” (MPDLGP) with Coordinator General Vicente Selles Zaragozi of the Agencia Espanola Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo-Philippines (AECID) on Tuesday at The Legend Villas in Mandaluyong City.
Deles sees the MPDLGP as a way to capacitate and strengthen Local Government Units (LGUs) in effectively and efficiently managing conflict and implementing initiatives on peace and development, reason why OPAPP is expanding the reach of their partnership. Said initiatives will be funded under the government program Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) or Peaceful and Resilient Communities.
“We are hoping that more LGUs particularly in conflict-affected areas will be able to implement initiatives that will address the root causes of conflict in their respective localities,” she said in a statement.
She said more LGUs from various municipalities will be trained this year “on mainstreaming conflict sensitivity and peace promoting approaches to their planning process.”
When asked how aware are the LGUs in acknowledging that there is truly a need for conflict-sensitive planning, she responded to reporters, “Siguro sa umpisa hindi. They were just more interested in the project, may project yan, may dadating something, but they were made part of identifying the projects so they’ve really been very engaged in PAMANA. When we started piloting the actual orientation program, they saw how helpful that was and it helped to build the team.” She added that the LGUs have been very responsive since.
Meanwhile, Spanish Ambassador Jorge Domecq, a witness to the signing, expressed, “The Philippines is a priority country for the Spanish Cooperation and the only one remaining in Asia. Spain considers the Philippines a very close and unique partner, since both countries share many values and principles through a common history and cultural heritage.”
He explained to reporters why Spain chose to support peace and development in the country. “One of our priority areas in development aid to the Philippines is institution building, to be able to provide the basis for a sustainable development of the country. For us, it was clear that the support to OPAPP was a must. It is important for governance. It’s also important to help them achieve some results in the different negotiations. There were 5 peace negotiations when this administration started. Now there’s only 2 left which we hope will give results also. In fact we were the first international development partner that chose to put the aid into the PAMANA program,” he said.
He also shared how the panels on the peace process can learn from Spain in terms of establishing an autonomous government. “Spain, as you know, is a very decentralized country. We have 17 regions with their regional parliament, regional government. They have also, in some cases like Navarra, they have their own fiscal system with different taxes, different ways of administrating. Some of them also have their own police. In the case of Navarra, there is a regional police which works along with national police and the guardia civil, and the armed forces which also have their barrettes and their installations in Navarra…In the regions, they have their own Ombudsman every region. There have been, over 30 years that we have had the system in Spain, we have learned things that we did well and all that we need to correct and so we thought that our experience might benefit also the Philippines now that you are going into a decentralized state,” he told reporters.
Other witnesses to the signing were Undersecretary Austere Panadero of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and guests from the donor community.
Why AECID and What is MPDLGP?
In her speech, Deles recalled that the direct engagement of OPAPP with AECID began in February 2010 through the Sorsogon Initiatives, with “collaborated efforts of the LGUs and local communities in creating sanctuaries of peace” in Sorsogon. The initiatives were described as a complementary track to the peace table of OPAPP with the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and National Democratic Front.
The MPDLGP, dubbed as a mainstreaming exercise, started in October 2011 as a collaborative effort of OPAPP, DILG through the Local Government Academy, Bureau of Local Government Development, and the National Barangays Operations Office.
It primarily targets LGUs that are affected directly by armed conflict and LGUs that are partners of OPAPP in implementing PAMANA.
The Government of Spain through AECID committed a grant of 1,500,000 Euros or about Php80 million to the Philippine government in 2011 to fund the project.
Deles stated the project intends to do the following: sustain and build upon the gains of Sorsogon Initiatives, promote peace and conflict sensitivity, and adopt a peace-promoting approach in selected LGUs to develop their capacity in adopting peace and conflict-sensitive programming in the planning, budgeting, and implementation of their services and projects.
She revealed that 20 provinces have already gone through conflict analysis in their localities through the conflict sensitivity and peace promoting program, and 293 PAMANA projects have been reviewed and assessed in terms of soundness, feasibility, sustainability, and peace-promoting character, as among the achievements of MPDLGP.