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House passes P569.69M OPAPP budget

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After almost three hours of deliberation, the House of Representatives finally passed the P569.64-million budget of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) shortly before Friday midnight.

House Minority Leader Rep. Edcel Lagman congratulated OPAPP for being the "main event" in the last day of budget hearings in the House. The agency budget was the last to be deliberated and passed by the lawmakers.

OPAPP was originally lined up for budget hearing on Tuesday, but was deferred for the last day after initial questioning. Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya sponsored the agency’s P569.64 million proposed budget.

OPAPP's budget is composed of P240.29 million for regular appropriations, including maintenance and operating expenses and personal services, and P329.34 million for Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA), the government's program and framework for peace and development.

*Solons see value of PAMANA

Legislators initially expressed concerns on OPAPP's use and disbursement of PAMANA funds.

In a news report released on Thursday after the Tuesday initial budget hearing, it was alleged that Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles failed to explain how the P329.34 million PAMANA budget will be spent.

This was belied by OPAPP Executive Director Luisito Montalbo. “It is not true that OPAPP cannot explain the fund. In fact, it has given full details on its use.”

The P329 million budget under OPAPP is part of the government's P1.9 billion fund allocation for the PAMANA program for 2012 carried by three other government agencies. A big bulk of the P329 million forms part of the Peace and Development Fund (PDF) to be given as a grant to PAMANA barangays from various conflict-affected provinces under Pillar 2, in which P300,000 per barangay is allocated for community-driven peace building and development interventions.

OPAPP is in-charge of this Peace and Development Fund for 970 barangays, which are mostly peace agreement areas, and amount to a total of P291 million. Budget for monitoring and evaluation, transparency and accountability mechanisms, and other logistical expenses of OPAPP as the oversight agency for PAMANA was also allocated with P38 million, completing OPAPP's PAMANA budget of P329 million for 2012.

PAMANA will be implemented through a community-driven development approach in which people are given control on development decisions – on how they want to use the funds they receive.

“The CDD approach has been proven by the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS)," Montalbo said.

He added that the CDD approach will not only improve the economic lives of the people. “This will help empower them since they will be given the hand to decide on their future.”

Upon clarifications on PAMANA, the lawmakers passed the OPAPP budget, convinced that the funds will go a long way towards improving the lives of the people in conflict-affected areas. (PNA/PIA9-BST)





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