Peace is possible thru dialogues, conflict resolution, and respect on land rights

June 9, 2019 // Leave a Comment

To make peace possible, community-based leaders in five barangays outside the most affected areas (MAA) of Marawi underwent series of dialogues, conflict resolution training, and land rights discussion through “Applying 3Bs for Peace in Mindanao (A3B4Peace),” a one-year project implemented by Maradeca Inc. in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) from 2018 to 2019.

3Bs means “binding, bonding, and bridging” which has been used by CRS as processes or approach “applied in peacebuilding initiatives to address tensions over competing land claims, transactional disputes, and problems on land access, its use, and ownership between different identity groups.”

Beneficiaries of the training and dialogues are traditional religious leaders, women, youths, lupong tagapamayapa, barangay councilors, and a number of barangay peacekeeping action team (BPAT) members from the barangays of Guimba, East Basak, Tampilong, Matampay, and Basak Malutlut of Marawi City.

They all underwent workshops on non-violent communication, mediation, localized process of negotiation, and trauma healing to strengthen their resiliency.

This collaborative peacebuilding initiative capacitate local leaders to utilize non-violent ways of resolving conflicts and made them realize the significance of their roles in preventing or deescalating conflicts.

They also professed to have developed better sensitivities, vigilance, and more helpful for others.

Effective tool

“I realized that lupong tagapamaya and traditional leaders play a vital role in bridging understanding between conflicting parties and that listening is not enough but understanding and respecting to the positions of parties are vital . As a mediator, we need to balance the situation to prevent triggers and anger of conflicting parties,” expressed one participant from Matampay.

Domi Mangondacan found the training effective in settling a conflict between married couple. “Objectivity on facts, using non-violent communication, and mediating through dialogues discourage physical violence among couples,” Mangondacan said.

Tampilong Nasser Acmad, a traditional leader, also said that conflict resolution is effective as tool for strengthening peace in the community.

In Guimba, reactivated BPAT members will use non-violent crime prevention to reduce crimes.

Norania Omar, a purok leader in Matampay and a facilitator of a woman friendly space (WFS) committed to impart her lessons learned to mothers and young learners while Latipah Umpara, a barangay facilitator and a health worker in Basak Malutlut, pointed the “importance of understanding the situation and context of others and stop being judgmental specially during Islamic education session.”

“Before, I envied those attending the seminar on peace building until this opportunity was opened for me to gain more knowledge. I am always grateful and I will be sharing this to my family and to my community,” said Nasser from barangay Tampilong.

Norjanna Capitan, a resident of Basak Malutlut, expressed that the training made her realize to be more tolerant and understanding with others. “Life is better when you deal peacefully with others,” she said.

In Tampilong, woman leader Saphia Radia compared her lessons learned to a light. “I am now more open to be friends with others. I know better now on how to mediate conflicts,” Radia said.

In East Basak, participants highlighted the relevance of equality of men and women; not to be judgmental and prejudicial with strangers.

Abdulcarim Lomabao from this barangay said, “the conduct of training helped gather people together to discuss peace issues.” 

Land rights protection

Meanwhile, land rights discourses were done with key community leaders and officials in the five barangays in January 2019 following concern on the effects of land use mapping and land titling policy which the national authorities wanted to review and enforce in Marawi after the violent siege in 2017 which turned 24 barangays into ashes and debris.

This session delved on residents’ history of land occupancy in said barangays. They also learned that “only few residents were able to secure their land titles while a number claim to have paid land tax declarations.” Still there is a number of residents who do not have any document that could prove land ownership albeit longer period of occupancy and possession.

Fearing that they may lose their native land rights, participants asked resource persons from Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the procedures, requirements, costs, and mechanisms for land titling.

DENR responded based on existing policy. This office has been conducting Community Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) in partner with the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) for survivors and displaced communities from MAAs of Marawi.

They also discussed the policy implications to residential and commercial areas now claimed by authorities of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as military reservation under Presidential Proclamation 453.

Youths for peace

Youths from the five barangays were likewise beneficiaries of this A3B4Peace project and they have crafted their respective peace advocacy plan.

In Basak Malutlut, a group youths planned to do clean up drives in every two weeks; provided an input on leadership for out of school youths; and wanted to introduce basketball and other sports for teens.

Youths in barangay Guimba also liked to conduct UTS training for community members; do clean drive; organize and train members on disaster risk reduction management; conduct awareness training on women and children’s rights; and, promote hygiene and sanitation.

Youths in barangay East Basak also liked to do clean up drive every two weeks; conduct self-awareness session; do skills and livelihood training; conduct Islamic seminar; gain access for scholarship; and, conduct medical mission.

On the other hand, youths in barangay Tampilong wanted to conduct Islamic seminar; conduct seminar on BPATs and councilors’ duties and responsibilities; do adult literacy for out of school youths and mothers; support segregation on biodegradable and non-biodegradable garbage; and tree planting.

The youths in barangay Matampay also wanted to pursue peace and development seminars; orient BPAT of their duties and responsibilities; conduct orientation on DRRM; do youth leadership program; livelihood training; purchase radio and speakers for communication and information dissemination; and, propose to the barangay chairman for the construction of covered court where youth can hold games or accommodate medical missions. (Farhana S. Arimao, Norhaifah D. Morad, & Mahid Sacar)