Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Jesus Dureza poses with Governors Sharee Ann Tan(Samar), Leopoldo Dominico Petilla(Leyte); Jose Ong(Northern Samar); Ferdinand Marcelo(Eastern Samar); Major Gen. Raul Farnacio, commanding general of the 8th ID and Chief Supt. Gilberto Cruz, police regional director, after he met them during a peace forum held on September 25 in Catbalogan City. (ROEL T. AMAZONA)

CATBALOGAN CITY- Office Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza said that they are still waiting instructions from President Rodrigo Duterte whether peace talks with the members of the National Democratic Front will resume or not.
Dureza, who was in the city on September 22 to attend a peace forum, said that he is also hopeful that the peace talks will resume for the country achieve a lasting peace.
“What the President wants is before we resume peace talks, there should be talks first on the implementation of a ceasefire,” he said.
The peace talks between the national government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front were suspended on order of Pres. Duterte after series of ambuscades reportedly staged by the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the communist group, against government troops.
“(The) success of the peace talks can be achieved if only members of rebel groups will not attack government forces”, Dureza said.
“We are waiting for that opportunity and perhaps it will be soon and we will be working again for the resumption of the peace talks. Definitely, we will have to wait for the final go signal of the President,” he added.
Eastern Visayas, particularly the three provinces of Samar, and some parts of Leyte are still affected by insurgency problem.
Based on the information from the Philippine Army, a total of 23 areas in the region are still affected by the insurgency, majority of which are located in Samar Island.
To address the problem of insurgency in the region, the government through OPAPP implemented the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) focusing at the tri-boundary of Samar Island, the conflict-affected towns of Matuguinao and San Jose de Buan in Samar province, Maslog and Jipapad in Eastern Samar and Lope de Vega and Silvino Lobos in Northern Samar.
Pamana is the national government’s convergence program that extends development interventions to isolated, hard-to-reach and conflict-affected communities, ensuring that they are not left behind.
The proposed budget for Pamana projects next year is P250 million, higher than almost P200 million budget for this year.
The P250 million proposed budget may still be increased once OPAPP includes the integrated development plan in conflict-affected areas that was formulated by the local government units and submitted to the President, Dureza said.