Peace group slams Aquino gov’t, OPPAP over COA report it misused P662M
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Exodus for Justice and Peace (EJP) said reports on the alleged “embezzlement of funds” allotted to the peace process have shown the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP) and the Aquino government to be “untrustworthy” and “insincere” in its work to forge peace with rebels.
EJP is an alliance that aims “to give flesh to the precepts of humanitarianism, promote respect for human rights and call for a just and lasting peace” and involves the religious, lawyers, academe and other professionals.
Rev. Jurie Jaime, EJP convener, said the recent report of the Commission on Audit (COA) on OPPAP’s questionable spending, including the reported fraudulent attendance sheets for its seminars, have revealed that government programs, actions, and policies regarding the peace process “are just for show.”
“OPPAP has been exposed for alleged embezzlement of funds allotted for the peace process,” he said. “Such malice and brazen disrespect of the people lays bare the Aquino government’s grave misconduct and insincerity to resolve the decades-old armed conflict in the Philippines.”
The COA report, which stated that OPAPP has overspent or cannot account for some P662 million in funds, was “(a)ctually misleading,” aUndersecretary Luisito Montalbo, the OPAPP executive director, said.
He also pointed out that COA did not disallow car rentals, in reply to the COA report of the office’s car rental expenses exceeded its budget allocation by over P37 million or 469 per cent, supposedly allotted for such services.
“The report was intended to strengthen and tighten procedures,” he said.
But Jaime said the COA report, which also cited excessive vehicle rentals by the agency, “only proved that government programs, actions, and policies regarding the peace process are just for show, if not an outright mockery of the people’s quest for peace and justice in our nation.”
Jaime also faulted the OPAPP for the plight of political detainees.
He said that at present, 62 political detainees have been languishing inside jails in Southern Mindanao, 107 cases of trumped-up charges have been filed against political activists and other individuals, and 50 political activists have become victims of extra-judicial killings under the Aquino administration in Southern Mindanao alone.
“These cases are against mass leaders and civilians suspected to be supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA),” Jaime said. “The actions of OPPAP as part of this government are not without blame as to why cases like these continue to proliferate. Those responsible in OPAPP, together with (President) Aquino, should be made to answer for this.” SFM
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