By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BANGUED, Abra — A government official from the Province of East Flanders in Belgium called on all stakeholders to work for peace amid security threats and rights violations in community recepients of development projects supported by his province.
Deputy Eddy Couckyut, of the Province of East Flanders called for cooperation among the communities and local government institutions to resolve security threat and rights violations against their partner communities and local non-government organization (NGO). He spoke during the peace forum held last February 22 in Bangued, Abra.
The peace forum was organized by the Center for Development Projects in the Cordillera (CDPC), the local NGO partner of the Province of East Flanders implementing development projects in the region. Projects include irrigations, mini-hydros, tools dispersal, setting up of cooperatives, health care service, capacity building trainings for beneficiaries among others.
Couckyut, together with other Belgian officials and representatives of Solidagro, the Belgian NGO partner of CDPC came to visit and see how the projects have been implemented on the ground.
He noted that community-beneficiaries raised rights violation issues during their visit that include the labeling of the development projects as projects of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Representatives from community-benefiaries who spoke during the peace forum raised that they are being harassed and threatened because they are suspected to be NPA supporters for helping implement much needed projects with the CDPC.
“Labeling impacts on not only the beneficiaries and CDPC but also the impacts on the assistance from the Province of East Flanders,” Couckyut said.
Couckyut said that the incidents of human rights violations and security threats have been raised not only with the Belgian government but as far as the European Union.
Amid the violations and threats, Couckyut said that the projects were successfully implemented.
Couckyut congratulated the Belgian delegation for being able to go to the communities and see for themselves the real situation in the area. “I also congratulate the successful implementation of the projects and the courage and commitment of the communities and all the people who worked together for the projects,” he said.
Couckyut said that the Belgian delegation will report to the provincial council of the Province of East Flanders what they saw and learned during their visit.
The CDPC has been partners with the Province of East Flanders for decades now in delivering much needed services to the most neglected interior communities of the Cordillera region.
Couckyut said that they have maintained a good partnership with CDPC for three decades now. He encouraged all stake holders to continue the friendship. He also encouraged community folk to strengthen their organizations.
Couckyut shared that there is also a people’s movement in Belgium and that the benefits they are enjoying now are fruits of their movement to assert their rights.
“An organized people brings social change,” Couckyut said. # nordis.net