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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Peace advocates highlight role of media, communicators in peace campaign

By Venus L. Garcia

BUTUAN CITY, Oct. 17 (PIA) – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) made an emphasis on maximizing the capacity of the media, public relations officers and government information officers to communicate to people the significance of achieving sustainable development as the key component in any peace process.

During the Media and Communicators Forum held in this city, OPAPP Undersecretary Diosita “Jojo” Andot said that aside from peace talks, the government is doing its efforts to respond to the root causes of rebellion and conflicts. "Hence, we need to multiply our efforts in addressing insurgencies. We also recognize the level of involvement of the media and government communicators in peacebuilding and in playing a more constructive role in the peace process," she said.

In a press conference held prior to the forum, Andot said that they are working on the strategic framework for peace, specifically for Mindanao, with inputs from different regions. “The assessment revealed that there are still areas which are lagging behind in terms of development,” Andot added.

When asked about what interventions were undertaken by OPAPP regarding the Marawi siege, Andot pointed out that they provided necessary venues and opportunities for the affected individuals to interact with them and hear their views, sentiments, expectations, and express their emotions.

“We’re helping the internally displaced persons (IDPs) to be more prepared as they go back to their places stricken by war, apart from the socio and financial support, and capability building. And underlying all these are conflict sensitivity, gender responsiveness and peace promotion approaches to peace and development rather than promotion of conflict.

She also expressed that there is a need for everyone to develop a sense of ownership to the efforts of the government. “Convergence and establishing linkage with the communities are important, as there will be development if there is peace and cooperation,” she said.

Meanwhile, OPAPP Assistant Secretary Rolando Asuncion recognized the strong commitment of the Caraganons to pursue peace and development. He emphasized that Caraga is the only region in the entire country that has crafted a "Roadmap to Peace.”

Asuncion also said that as highlighted by the “Peace Buzz,” they intend to show government initiatives, such as its peace programs and projects to the people. He added that addressing conflicts and attainment of peace should be done as a national effort.

Topics that were tackled during the forum include the updates on the Philippine Peace Process; the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL); and the roles of women and indigenous people in the peace process and community peacebuilding.

According to Allan Almoite, manager of OPAPP Area Management Team of Northern Mindanao, the role of the local media partners and communicators is vital in promoting public awareness about the peace process.

This was also supported by a statement from OPAPP Conflict Prevention and Management Unit Director Ferdinand Jovita, underscoring that communication is crucial to achieve peace. “It's a matter of framing the communication strategies to effectively convey to the people what the government has been doing, especially in the attainment of peace. It is hoped that after the forum, each participant will become an instrument and communicator of peace," he said.

Meanwhile, Agusan del Norte Governor Maria Rosedell Amante-Matba also encouraged everyone to remain optimistic that we’ll achieve lasting peace, as she believes that when there is hope, help from different stakeholders to resolve conflicts will continue to come and flow. She added that even little issues can be addressed through collaboration and eventually attain peace.

In time with the forum, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Information Kiosk was installed at the venue, where participants got the chance to grab copies of information, education and communication (IEC) materials containing the programs and projects of the government

“It is important for everybody to have an in-depth understanding of the peace process and know how they can contribute and participate in order for the Philippines to be globally competitive with all other ASEAN member countries. Peace and development can be achieved if we educate and engage others,” emphasized PIA-Caraga Regional Director Abner Caga.

The conduct of the Media and Communicators Forum was in line with the celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month anchored on the theme, “Puso para sa Kapayapaan, Magkaisa para sa Bayan,” which reflected the positive changes that the country can experience through compassion and unity among Filipinos. (VLG/PIA-Caraga)

DOE wants fair retail power competition

BUTUAN CITY, Oct. 17 – Power retailers and consumers should be able to compete fairly under the retail competition and open access (RCOA) system, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said during the second public consultation on the RCOA policy at the Park Inn by Radisson Clark in Pampanga.

“We have to properly explain to the industry players our way forward in implementing the ‘power of choice’ provisions of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) and one of them is the provision on retail competition and open access,” Cusi told some 130 representatives from contestable customers, retail electricity suppliers and distribution utilities who attended the meeting on the draft circulars on RCOA.

“The demand-side contestable customers and the supply-side retail electricity suppliers must be guided towards a competitive and transparent system under a fair playing field,” Cusi said.

During the meeting, DOE presented two RCOA circulars – one containing the policy for contestable customers and the other containing the policy for retail electricity suppliers.

Contestable Customers

The RCOA policy on the demand side requires contestable customers with an average demand peak of 500kW and above, to voluntarily participate in the retail market. It also allows electricity end-users within a contiguous area whose aggregate average peak demand is not less than 500kW to voluntarily enter into a retail supply contract as aggregators, who may purchase and resell electricity on a group basis.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will promulgate the supporting guidelines in the licensing of the retail electricity suppliers and retail aggregation, and will provide the responsibilities of the distribution utilities and the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation.

Retail Electricity Suppliers

The RCOA policy for retail electricity suppliers is for the generation company or its affiliate, an affiliate of a distribution utility, retail aggregators, independent power producer administrators, prospective generation companies and other persons authorized by the ERC to engage in the supply business to the contestable customer to have a license.

The policy also emphasizes the need for licensed retail electricity suppliers engaged in the generation and distribution sectors to unbundle their supply business in order to ensure a level playing field.

It likewise provides that distribution utilities may provide electricity services to contestable customers within its franchise area, upon authorization from the ERC and compliance with the unbundling provisions of EPIRA and its implementing rules and regulations.

Ultimate Destination

Cusi reminded the participants that DOE and ERC must annually review and issue RCOA policies until it reaches the household level.

“The DOE assures the public of its commitment in moving forward with RCOA, for the benefit of the consumers,” Cusi concluded. (DOE/PIA-Caraga)