The Army’s 542nd Engineering Construction Battalion will be implementing P69 million worth of infrastructure projects in the hinterlands of Cauayan, Ilog, Candoni and Murcia in Negros Occidental, starting next year, Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said yesterday.
Lactao said this is in line with the PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan ) program of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.
The infrastructure projects include the construction of farm-to-market roads, school buildings, health centers and water systems, which will provide a great impact to livelihood, especially to farmers, living in the hinterlands of Negros Occidental, he said.
The PAMANA program, which is the national government’s peace and development framework for empowering conflict-affected areas in the country, follows a convergence, that incorporates various counter-insurgency measures that mostly focus on livelihood projects and social services.
A complementary track to peace negotiations, PAMANA ensures that communities benefit from improved delivery of basic social services and are served by a responsive, transparent and accountable government, the OPPAP said.
Lactao said Cauayan town will get 10 of the 18 projects for Negros Occidental, and three each will go to Candoni and Murcia, and two to Ilog town.
OPPAP has identified 327 conflict-affected areas in Negros Occidental that may benefit from its PAMANA, which used to be known as the Kalayaan sa Barangay Program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, being handled by the Department of National Defense.
Military records show that the AFP implemented 38 infrastructure projects worth P136 million in Negros Occidental and Oriental, in 2009 and 2010, under the KBP.
PAMANA aims to build peaceful communities in 1,921 conflict-affected remote barangays in 34 provinces nationwide, including Negros Occidental, while pursuing its main track, which is to help end the decades-old armed conflict.
In his meeting with Negros Occidental mayors Friday, Lactao solicited their support in terms of food assistance for Army detachments in their areas.
There are 44 CAFGU detachments all over Negros Occidental, that serve as territorial forces of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, in restricting the movement of the highly-mobile New People’s Army rebels, now estimated at 200.*GPB