Philippines: Spain chips in P20 million for the "Sorsogon Initiative" to help eradicate insurgency

The Spanish government is shelling out P20-million grant to the Philippines to support a pilot project dubbed as the "Sorsogon Initiative" wherein the people in the community implement by themselves infrastructure projects as part of the government's peace-building effort to eradicate insurgency.

Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Luis Arias-Romero said Spain is fully committed for the peaceful resolution to the long-drawn armed conflict in the Philippines.

"You can count on Spain," Romero said at the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the "Sorsogon Initiatives" between the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the primary agency tasked to coordinate the National Peace Agenda of the Government, and the Local Government Academy (LGA), the training arm of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) held at Oakwood Premier in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

He said the implementation of the project was "a result of hard work in this past few months through frank and open dialogue between OPAPP, the local government academy and the embassy of Spain."

"In this way, a comprehensive intervention is achieved of importance to both the Philippine and Spanish governments which is none other than the resolution of conflicts and the peace-building in the Philippines, " Arias-Romero said.

The Spanish envoy stressed the importance of peace because "without peace and stability there are no possibilities for development in any region."

Main signatories were OPAPP Secretary Annabelle T. Abaya and DILG Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno, who was represented by DILF Undersecretary Melchor Rosales.

Other signatories were Ambassador Arias-Romero; former Labor Secretary Nieves R. Confesor, chairperson of the government peace panel negotiating with the communist rebels; Marivel C.

Sacendoncillo, LGA executive director; Sorsogon Gov. Sally Lee; Loida Nicolas-Lewis, of the Sorsogon Alliance for Peace and Development; Sorsogon Archbishop Arturo Bastes; Jesus Molina, coordinator general of the La Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion International para el Desarrollo (AECID); and Danilo L. Encinas, head, technical committee of the GRP negotiating panel for talks with the communist rebels.

Pilot areas for the project are Barangay Sta. Ana in the municipality of Gubat and in the whole town of Barcelona, all in Sorsogon.

The project is part of the National Peace Agenda of the government, specifically in moving forward the peace process with the Communist Party of the Philippines/ New People's Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) .

It is funded by the Spanish government through its Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion Interncional para el Desarrollo (AECID) under the third phase of its Program on Strengthening the Local Governments in the Philippines with the Local Government Academy (LGA)-DILG.

[Source: By Anna Dinglasan, Relief Web, Manila, 21feb10]

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