PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday signed an executive order strengthening the policy framework on peace, reconciliation, and unity by reorganizing the existing office handling peace initiatives.

Executive Order 158 will establish the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU), replacing the current Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). 

An appointed presidential adviser on PAPRU, with rank of a Cabinet member, will manage, direct, integrate and supervise all aspects of the comprehensive peace process, including initiatives that will promote and reinforce national reconciliation and unity.

The order states that it is intended “to more effectively build on the achievements of the national government on peacebuilding engagements” as its policies and programs continually need reassessment and realignment. 

Government Peace Negotiating Panels (GPNPs) will also be established, each composed of a chairperson and its members, all appointed by the chief executive. They will conduct direct negotiations and discussions with rebel groups.

An advisory board will be set up for each of these panels, composed of representatives from Congress, Cabinet members, and representatives of civil society, and other advisers as designated by the president.

The funds to implement this order will be taken from the current appropriations of the OPAPP. Funding for subsequent years will be appropriated in the annual General Appropriations Act. 

The OPAPP — tasked to coordinate, integrate, and monitor the implementation of the comprehensive peace process mainly with Moro rebel groups, the communist movement, and other armed factions — was created in 1993 under then President Fidel V. Ramos. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan