Opapp fund mess
The Opapp has previously figured in another mess, this time involving P500 million ($ 11.627 million). In August 2010 reports, it was declared that the alleged fund mess was exposed by former Opapp secretary Anabelle Abaya but her successor Deles, claimed the documents detailing the alleged fund mess were not turned over to her. Among the alleged fund use anomalies was the complaint of the Joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (JCCCH) that it had not received its subsidy from government for the last seven months. This reportedly resulted into the office’s failure to pay bills.
Deles presented a strong front during the meeting with 24 lobby delegates composed of grassroots leaders from Mindanao and cabinet officials that was part of a series of fora called “Conversations with Mindanao Grassroots.”
Deles insisted that there was no paper trail to follow up on the alleged fund mess and that during the incumbency of another Opapp head Jesus Dureza, the management of the office’s finance was transferred to Malacañang for reasons she did not know.
The peace adviser also stated that she had addressed the JCCCH’s problem by calling for cash advances for it via the Opapp. She went on to say that even if there were unliquidated funds, the Opapp had already released funds in advance for the panel. She then went on to announce that that she had already “assumed responsibility on the budget and finances” of the Opapp.
Other complainants against Deles
In the meantime, Deles is also being accused of misusing Opapp funds for purposes other than the peace negotiations. Critics charge that she even sabotaged negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in 2001. Instead of using Opapp funds for the peace talks, Deles is allegedly spending these on bogus GPH-funded private armies such as the CPLA and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa Pilipinas-Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade.
But even the last charge is being contested by the RPA-ABB itself, implying that the funds for peace talks between the GPH and the group are being misused. The group also has a beef with Deles and what it said as the Aquino government’s “fake peace posturing.”
In a statement last March, the RPA-ABB charged Deles of illegally abolishing the Joint Enforcement and Monitoring Committee (JEMC) and all its mechanisms and structures despite the fact that it was a creation of Executive Order No. 117 of the Macapagal-Arroyo government. The mechanism is reportedly still in effect and wold continue to be so unless Aquino revokes it. The group said that Deles “usurped Aquino’s authority” when she made a pronouncement to abolish the JEMC.
“All of the beautiful pronouncements and discourses (pa pogi poise) made by Sec. Deles in media, internet and peace forums relative to the “closure of peace talks particularly with the RPM-P/RPA-ABB” are all blatant lies! How can there be a closure when in fact, it is not gaining ground and its confidence-building aspect (like release of all political prisoners and alleged political offenders, dropping of charges against RPA-ABB officers and members, impact development projects and the release of integration fund are grossly violated, and much more, substantial aspect like policy reform agenda that will address root causes of armed conflict has never been discussed at any formal or informal talks between the government and the RPM-P/RPA-ABB,” the renegade group said.
As of July 2011, political prisoners connected or alleged to be connected to the RPA-ABB wrote a letter to Aquino calling for the resumption of peace negotiations. If the Opapp has declared that it remains concerns with these talks between the GPH and the group, then why is the latter denouncing Deles? Where are all the funds going?
Last October 12, the Opapp through Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo, Opapp executive director said President Aquino has ordered the Opapp to step up the government peace process with the RPMP-RPA-ABB.
“PNoy wants to put a close to all of this armed conflicts before his term ends…we are now focusing our attention on the RPA-ABB,” he said.
Counter-insurgency, not peace talks
Makabayan Coalition President and former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo in his column in the Philippine Star last October 15 offered an explanation regarding the seeming inconsistencies in the pronouncements and actions of the Aquino government regarding the peace process. Ocampo obliquely opined that the Aquino administration does not at all consider the peace talks as a key element of its “peace process,” nor is a negotiated political settlement with the NDFP (representing the CPP, the New People’s Army and 17 allied revolutionary organizations) the president’s preferred way “to attain a just and lasting peace.”
“Aquino’s preferred way is for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to achieve victory in the field, disguised as ‘winning the peace’ rather than ‘winning the war’ (unwinnable over 40 years), through a plan patterned after the US Counterinsurgency Guide of 2009. This is the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP), or “Oplan Bayanihan,” Ocampo wrote.
Ocampo said the peace process and the peace talks are not one and the same and that they are not interchangeable. The peace talks, Ocampo explained, constitute just one element of the peace process.
Under the Philippine Development Plan 2010-2016, the peace process has two defined tracks. Track 1 entails the resumption of peace talks with the MILF and the NDFP, and completion of the signed final peace agreements with the Moro National Liberation Front and the CPLA.
Track 2 is a “complementary track… to address the causes of conflict” in conflict-affected areas through the Pamana program.
The Opapp under Deles, Ocampo said, is using majority of its funds for Pamana, but only P100 million ($2.3 million) for the GPH-MILF peace talks and the funds are still subject to the submission of a special budget.
” No amount, however, is allotted for the GPH-NDFP peace talks. Doesn’t this speak volumes about the latter’s relative importance, or lack of it, to the P-Noy government?”
Ocampo said the Aquino administration and the Opapp under Deles also prefers to support the IPSP which mandates the AFP to “catalyze” the involvement of the “broadest spectrum of stakeholders”; enjoins it to adhere to human rights, international humanitarian law and the rule of law, and to uphold the “primacy of the peace process.”
He pointed out, however, that the IPSP”s “strategic concepts” clearly point toward counter-insurgency, with no intent of hampering AFP operations which are alleged to be “in the context of the peace process” and these operations “ensure that the group with whom the government is talking peace will not use force or the threat of force as leverage at the negotiating table.”
The IPSP also puts no diminution of the importance of combat military operations in addressing the challenges posed by armed threat groups to internal peace and security, and it acknowledges that the AFP’s internal peace and security end-state against the communist insurgency is to render the NPA ” irrelevant and show the group the futility of their armed struggle… convince them to abandon the armed struggle and instead engage in peace negotiations with the government.”
The IPSP also considers it a strategic task to ensure that “intensified and relentless pursuit of the NPA is intended to exhaust their armed capabilities and diminish their will to fight… The expected decline of the NPA and their growing irrelevance shall then be sustained through efforts to address causes of conflict.”
“‘In a signed message, P-Noy endorses the IPSP. He said, “I call on the entire Filipino citizenry to roll up our sleeves and pitch in. Let us join the AFP in translating this national aspiration to reality.’ Need we say more?,” Ocampo said.