MEDIA Council president Joe Kanekane says he had been given a petition by the Highlands communities opposing the Ombudsman Commission amendment bill by Parliament next month.
“The communities also want a stronger focus on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” Mr Kanekane, who is also co-chair of the Community Coalition Against Corruption said.
He said the petition was signed by more than 500 people in Aiyura Valley, including representatives from Southern Highlands, Hela, Western Highlands, Jiwaka, Chimbu and Eastern Highlands.
The petition was an unexpected outcome of a three-day media literacy workshop conducted by the Media Council from April 14-16 for the Highlands region which was attended by 40 participants.
On the third day, the workshop extended onto a forum on the awareness of the MDGs and PNG’s performance which attracted more than 500 people.
Council executive director Nimo Walter Kama, who spearheaded the workshop, said: “None of the forum participants had any idea of what the MDGs were.
“They did not even know the targets that were supposed to be achieved and were concerned that 10 years had already gone without any real achievements.
“But most forum respondents recognised that the MDG targets of ending hunger and poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child deaths, improving maternal health, curbing HIV/AIDS, malaria and other preventable diseases, and ensuring environmental sustainability would transform rural communities,” Mr Kama said.
Mr Kanekane said it was during the question and answer session that the forum, while expressing dissatisfaction, proposed to petition Parliament to focus on key developmental issues instead of self-preserving amendments to the OC.
“There was a lot of enthusiasm to sign the petition which was blessed in prayer by pastors before it was handed over to Mr Kanekane,” Mr Kama said.
The petition captured the forum’s concerns that PNG, as a signatory to the MDGs, had down-graded their efforts initially through the medium-term development strategy.
The petition urges MPs to:
* Cease from making amendments to the OC laws which protect the mandated powers given to them by the people;
* Focus on implementing the MDGs beginning with incorporating it as it is into the Government’s medium-term development strategy;
* Follow this up with sectoral approaches in agriculture, fishery, eco-tourism, forestry, inspiring rural people to income earning opportunities in an environmentally sustainable way;
* Ensure funding at adequate levels in key sector areas like education and health, including churches, as significant partners; and
* Supporting this with adequately maintained and new strategic infrastructure as well as utilities like water and electricity.
Mr Kanekane will deliver the petition to the appropriate authorities.