The Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) and the Regional Development Council (RDC) jointly conducted the Peace and Development Zones (PDZ) Project orientations on separate but similar occasions last April 25, 2018 at the Prosperidad Municipal Hall and Bayugan City Hall in Agusan del Sur, and May 2, 2018 at the Sibagat Municipal Hall.

The PDZ is a cross-cutting and overarching approach initiated by both Councils in achieving peace and development in Caraga. It is a strategy to implement the Roadmap for Peace through the promotion of peace building process where reconciliation, institution building, political and economic transformation are aspired.

The PDZ concept treats barangays as direct partners in resolving socio-economic and developmental issues unique to the community. The PDZ requires barangay leaders to analyze and determine their local needs and issues which in turn will be addressed by the community itself with assistance from the regional line agencies (RLAs).

As a highlight of the orientation sessions, the concerned municipal, city, and barangay leaders expressed support and commitment to the PDZ. Prosperidad Municipal Mayor Albin Magdamit and the concerned barangay captains expressed their support while Bayugan City Councilor Kirk Asis manifested the local government’s support on behalf of City Mayor Kim Lope Asis. Likewise, Sibagat Mayor Thelma Lamanilao and the concerned barangay captains also committed to the goals of the project.

Mediatrix Foundation, as external partner, will organize and facilitate the groundwork activities in the following pilot barangays: Magsaysay and San Lorenzo in Prosperidad, ADS; Villa Ondayon in Bayugan City, ADS; Tag-oyango and Kioya in Sibagat, ADS; and Lasicam in Gigaquit, SDN. These locations were selected due to the presence of 3-4 conflict lines, strong presence of NPAs, and where interventions to address insurgency are believed to be strategic.

The RPOC, through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), emphasized that PDZ will not treat the pilot barangays as beneficiaries but as partners. This means that partner RLAs will not enter the sites with ready projects in hand but will partner with the barangay in establishing specific interventions. In turn, relevant government agencies will be tapped to act as enablers to meet these barangay-identified issues and needs.

The next phase of the PDZ project will be the roll-out of operational planning activities which will be participated by RPOC, RDC, Mediatrix, together with the local government stakeholders scheduled this June 2018.

Gemeniano B. Crisante, Jr., NEDA-Caraga