SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Lawmakers are hopeful that the budget and implementation of the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) Program would be reinstated solely under the authority of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
The House Members expressed their wish for the PAMANA to be under the sole jurisdiction of the OPAPP during the House plenary deliberations on the P688.6 million proposed OPAPP budget for 2019. This is much lower than the OPAPP budget for this year, which amounts to P5.8 billion.
The PAMANA Program is an initiative by the national government to extend development interventions to isolated, hard-to-reach, and conflict-affected communities across the country.
It is designed to serve as a complementary track to peace negotiations by improving governance, reducing poverty, and empowering communities in conflict-affected and -vulnerable areas. This includes efforts to enhance these communities' transparency and accountability mechanisms, establish sustainable rural development, and strengthen their capacity to address issues of conflict.
In previous years, funds for the implementation of the program were downloaded to various agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Department of Agriculture (DA), among others. This has been a challenge in the accountability for the implementation of the program.
"That's the difficulty with the PAMANA Program. If you don’t put the PAMANA Program under the full control of the OPAPP as an agency, then the liability lies with different line agencies. Not only OPAPP but also DND (Department of National Defense), AFP, DA, DSWD, DOH (Department of Health). 'Yan ang problema… it is an administrative mess and an auditing mess," said Committee on Appropriations Vice Chairman Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo (1st District, Lanao del Norte), who sponsored the OPAPP 2019 proposed budget.
House Bill 8169 or the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) names the DSWD, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) as the implementing agencies of the PAMANA program in 2019. The appropriations for the program are allocated as follows: P302.193 million to DSWD; P23.44 million to NCIP; and P61.229 to PhilHealth.
Dimaporo also fielded questions from House members, reporting that the PAMANA Program "has more or less been slashed" under the proposed 2019 national budget.
"I believe it has been removed from the 2019 budget because of the cash-based budgeting policies of Budget Secretary Diokno," he said.
Rep. Makmod Mending Jr. (Party-list, AMIN) voiced his support for the reinstatement of the PAMANA Program under the OPAPP jurisdiction.
"For as long as we can, for how much as we can, we will commit to continue supporting the PAMANA Program," Mending said.
Rep. Ruby Sahali (Lone District, Tawi-Tawi), Chairperson of the Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, agreed with Mending.
Sahali said the OPAPP allocation is critical to the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and the implementation of the exit agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
"This Representation would like to manifest an additional budget or inflation of the budget for the OPAPP in the amount of P5.8 billion for the normalization process and P1.27 billion for the transition in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, which includes the enactment of priority legislations, organizational activities, full transfer of powers and properties of ARMM to the Bangsamoro Government, and the determination of parliamentary districts for the first regular elections of the parliament," Sahali said.
Dimaporo said that OPAPP Secretary Jesus Dureza also hoped for the restoration of the PAMANA Program budget.
"The wish list from our good Secretary Dureza would be the reinstatement of the PAMANA program as proposed to the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) which was unfortunately cut. And in addition to that for the OPAPP to be the one to solely implement the program so there would be no pasa pasa ng blame in terms of the failure of its implementation on the ground," Dimaporo said.
He attested that the PAMANA Program has been effective in government efforts to fight insurgency.
"Where the PAMANA Program is implemented, it brings the presence of the government closer to the people who may have felt neglected by our Republic and opted instead to join the insurgency movements. So the PAMANA Program has its successes and accomplishments," Dimaporo said. | Czarina Engracia