MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino III raised the budget of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to 235 million pesos (5.38 million U.S. dollars) to hasten and complete its work, specifically in the peace negotiations with the Muslim rebels in the South.
Appearing before the House committee on appropriations, which is hearing the proposed budget for 2011, OPAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles said of the proposed 235 million pesos budget of the agency for next year, 124.6 million pesos (2.85 million U.S. dollars) was earmarked for the peace negotiation with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Deles told the committee chaired by Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya that the increased budget is in anticipation of the expenses to be incurred after the Philippine government and the MILF created its respective peace negotiating panels.
"Parallel efforts are being maintained to implement a signed agreement with the MILF, particularly in the observance of the ceasefire agreement and the commitments to humanitarian, rehabilitation and development aspects," she said.
Deles said the talks are expected to resume this month, specifically, after the Ramadan, which would allow the MILF and the Malaysian secretariat time to prepare.
The government panel is composed of University of the Philippines (U.P.) College of Law Dean Marvic Leonen, businessman Senen Bacani, U.P. Associate Professor of Political Science Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Upi Vice Mayor Ramon Piang Sr., and Dr. Hamid Barra of the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
Deles said OPAPP has also initiated engagements with several rebel groups aimed at reaching a closure of the peace process, which are expected to end within one year. These groups include the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, Cordillera People's Liberation Army and the Moro National Liberation Front.