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Deles in the hot seat again over P31-M grant

The top peace adviser of President Benigno Aquino 3rd seemed to have found herself in even hotter water, this time over a “confirmation” that she made over the weekend that a breakaway communist hit squad had received P31million in grant from the government.
Secretary Teresita Deles, Palace adviser on the peace process, the other week was dragged into the controversial P5 million in aid to a leadership institute run by the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

On Monday, Malacañang clarified that the government did not give the P31-million grant to the Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB), once the urban vigilante squad of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said that the grant, which the government would be shelling out as part of its Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana)) project, was meant for development of communities in strife-torn areas in the country.

“[There was no] grant to the ABB. Pamana is the program for the development of communities and alternative livelihoods. [We do not turn over funds to any group],” Valte told reporters during a phone patch interview in Malacañang.

She made the clarification amid reports quoting Deles that the government has given the ABB the P31-million grant to support livelihood projects for residents in the communities occupied by former members of the communist hit squad and their families.

Valte explained that the grant was not given directly to the ABB but is being handled by the government to develop projects for the communities in partnership with local government units and national agencies.

She noted that funds allocated for Pamana projects are “really for the development of communities” and these are not given to a particular entity.

Pamana is the government’s peace and development program and framework, which seeks to reduce poverty, improve governance and empower communities through community-driven projects that address the people’s needs and, at the same time, promote peace.

It is led by Deles’ Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process with the Social Welfare and Development, Interior and Local Government and Agrarian Reform departments as its partners.

The supposed P31-million deal with the ABB was similar to that entered into by the government with the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA).

Under the deal , CPLA agreed to transform itself from an armed group to a socio-economic organization.

It was learned that under the proposed deal between the breakaway communist hit squad and the government, all members of the group will have to provide profiles of each member so that they could be matched with jobs or livelihoods in their communities.

They would not be required to surrender their firearms — but they have to register them — and would not be given permits to carry the guns outside their residences.
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