OPAPRU DENIES ALLEGED HARASSMENT
FRANCO JOSE C. BAROÑA
The Manila Times
“BASELESS, irresponsible and unfounded.” This was how the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (Opapru), formerly Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp), described the allegations made by the Gabriela Women’s Party that the government agency was involved in the alleged harassment of one of the members of the political party. “To set the record straight, the Opapru vehemently denies that it was involved in the alleged harassment of Ms. Elizabeth Maynigo,” the government agency said in a statement issued on Saturday. The agency handles peace talks and negotiations related to internal conflict and rebellion in the Philippines. According to Gabriela, on March Q5, men who claimed to be members of the Opapru asked Maynigo, the president of the party-list’s chapter in Marikina, to board a vehicle for interrogation. The group further alleged that Maynigo was later asked to be an “agent” for Opapp, and report to them all of the activities of Gabriela in Marikina City. If she refuses, the officers from Opapp said that they would issue a warrant of arrest for rebellion against her. Gabriela said that while intimidation against the group is not new and that other members of the group in Marikina have also experienced harassment, it will still seek a congressional inquiry on the incident. It will also file formal complaints in various agencies regarding the matter. However, according to the Opapru, the claim made by Gabriela is “simply illogical” since these are “mere allegations not supported by appropriate evidence. [It] is considered hearsay and only a ploy to mislead the public.” To properly validate and verify the issue raised by Gabriela, the Opapru said it immediately conducted internal checking when the allegation broke out in social media. “Opapru did not receive any communication from Gabriela to raise and seek our response to the concern; rather, they went all out to besmirch the agency’s reputation,” the agency said. It further said the accusation is contrary to the core values of the agency, which is to promote conflict sensitivity and peace promotion. “Gabriela may have forgotten that the Opapru is the agency tasked to implement the country’s comprehensive peace process. Being such, the men and women of the agency cannot and will never be engaged in such acts of intimidation, harassment or coercion as purported by Gabriela,” the agency stressed. The Opapru said it remains committed to creating an environment where peace dialogues and understanding can flourish. Moreover, it noted that the agency is the current head of the steering committee of the National Action Plan Women, Peace and Security (NAP-WPS), which aims to protect and ensure the rights and welfare of Filipino women. “Our agency has not wavered on this commitment. Our track record can speak for itself, especially for what it has done for our country’s women sector,” it said. The Opapru called on Gabriela to “get its facts straight and be responsible for the information it shares to the public.” It said the agency is “very much willing to help not just Gabriela [members] but also any other citizen of the Republic.” “We urge organizations like Gabriela to follow procedures that have long existed when making complaints against our personnel or any official of the government,” the Opapru said. “This goes a long way in preventing issues from taking on the character of gutter material, devoid of any grain of truth. One cannot truly win the hearts and minds of our people by propagating misinformation,” it added.