Integrating feminine leadership into one’s identity is particularly difficult among women in BARMM region where credibility is established in a culture that privileges patriarchal or masculinist authority. Dominant perceptions and misconceptions still are prevalent that women are not cut out for leadership. And so hearing personal experiences of women leaders challenging the conventional ways of leadership are always beautiful, invigorating, and inspirational. There is no scarcity in women leaders, but there exists an environment that stifles their potentials.
The series of Regional Dialogues continued to create synergy and proved to be the best way in getting the valuable insights of the CSO leaders in BARMM on the peace process as the Philippines enter a new political landscape.
The Mindanao Peoples Caucus in partnership with the United Nations International Organization on Migration through the Supporting Conflict Transformation towards Effective Peacebuilding in the Bangsamoro Region (STEP BARMM) Project conducted another round of regional dialogue.
There were 45 participants from Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Davao City, Cagayan De Oro, and Marawi who attended the 3-day forum at Eden Nature Park and Resort last June 7 to 9.
The Mindanao Peoples Caucus invited participants from Consortium Bangsamoro Cso, League of Bangsamoro Organizations – LBO Inc., BAWGBUG Inc., PeaceBuilders Community, Kunsensya Dabaw, Kalimudan Sa Ranao Foundation Incorporated, Moro Consensus Group – MCG, Balay Mindanaw Group, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa – Sentro, Unypad, CBCS), Civil Society Oragnizations Movement for Moral Governance (CSO-MMG), TASBIKKa Incorporated, CRS, Singanen o Mindanao, Ecoweb, and Bantay Ceasefire. Ms. Melina Nathan, the Senior Peace and Development Advisor United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office, was also present during the dialogue.
Ms. Mags Maglana facilitated the 3-day regional dialogue where the CSO leaders were able to voice out their sentiments, opinions, uncertainties, optimisms, and their plans for the future of peace and development in BARMM.
Focus in the discussion is how can the different CSOs help sustain and protect the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process and what are the necessary actions that CSOs must undertake. The regional dialogue was effective and participatory because, though constrained by time, everyone was given the chance to talk and be heard.
Minister Mohagher Iqbal of the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education (MBHTE)–BARMM was also present during the second day of the regional dialogue. He encouraged everyone to “go back to the basic to understand the complexities of the problem.” He also stressed the vital role of dialogue in the peace development work, he said:
“Dialogue is a corner stone of MILF policies, we need to engage people, groups, and be able to identify common grounds… We open our doors to dialogue. While the past is important, the future is more important. You need to understand where they are coming from and their directions.”
As the group move forward, we hope to become more cohesive as group of CSO leaders working towards peace in Mindanao. As what Atty. Mary Ann Arnado, the Secretary General of MPC, said as she closed the 2nd regional dialogue, “We have a heavy task ahead but we will be doing this by holding hands together.”
The Digital Literacy Training started off by a backgrounder given by Mr. Ammier Dodo. He emphasized that as part of the BARMM, we all have to carry our advocacies wherever we go, be it digital or in any other form. Especially in the peace process, digital literacy is very important in the transition period. Everyone must be part of making sure that we altogether achieve moral governance.
On social media and countering fake news
For Abdulhadi Daguit, the digital literacy training meant correcting fake histories by sharing the real narratives or actual experiences of Marcos victims and survivors. Even in digital space, storytelling is a powerful tool against fake news.
Mr. Ammier stressed how fake news peddlers are “weaponizing” social media without us knowing. Participants learned how to identify disinformation channel and who are susceptible to fake news. One of the participants shared that some detractors create fake BARMM government websites. She shared, “Lalo na ngayon ay panahon ng eleksyon. We verify news sources. Imagine if a single person shares fake news. We have to be responsible citizens.”
Social media platforms
Mr. TU Alfonso walked us through the different social media platforms and pointed out the advantages and disadvantages of each one. Most of the participants shared that they have not really optimized Facebook in their advocacy work. Being able to use different platforms such as Tik-Tok, YouTube, and Facebook will enable them to reach out to more people and learn about their advocacies.
Creating Publication Materials
Many of the participants joined Digital Literacy Training for the first time. And as what Ammier Dodo said, one of the resource persons of the training, “Every time may first timer, nakaka excite kung ano ang magiging output ng training for them.” The resource persons introduced two PubMat-making tools- Canva and MsPublisher.
For Bencita joining the digital literacy training meant being able to bridge information on the importance of vaccination to her community through informative publication materials. She was a beginner at creating publication materials. The last digital training she had ever attended was how to use a type writer way back her school days. She said, ““Nadagdagan ang kaalaman ko sa Canva and MS Publisher kasi first time ko din. Lalo na ang Canva, napakalaking bagay na makatulong sa advocacy. Lalo na sa pag gawa ng tarpaulin para sa advocacy for vaccination.”
The resource speakers critiqued the outputs one by one, also giving the participants the opportunity to correct their outputs. They have learned several tips in terms of visual aesthetic to make the publication materials more interesting, catchy, and easier to comprehend for the audience.
Findings from the Training Needs Assessment identified digital conferencing skill as the participants’ priority topic in the digital literacy training. Zoom and Messenger are the two main conferencing platforms taught by the resource persons. One of the participants shared, “Gusto ko talagang matutunan yung zoom, kasi dati binibigyan ako ng link at di ako makapasok. Hanggang sa matapos na lang ang meeting ay di pa din ako maka pasok.”
The resource persons demonstrated how to use the platforms, first from the standpoint of the one creating the meeting and second as participant in a meeting. They walked us through the different features of both Zoom and Messenger.
Since most of the participants were using smartphones, the resource persons also introduced Zoom and Messenger features using multiple devices. After the demonstration, the participants have gotten to experience the digital conference platforms on their own. It was an exciting learning experience for them. They have also found out how to address sound feedbacking whenever two laptops were using Zoom or Messenger simultaneously in one place.
In the past two years during the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, the internet, online applications, mobile devices and all associated hardware and software have become firmly embedded in everyday life, to the extent that we lose control of the phenomena. For that matter, we need to develop digital literacy skills. Being able to communicate and to access and share reliable information online is central to CSOs and social movements. Undoubtedly, for MPC and our CSO partners working for the BARMM transition, being able to gain digital skills hold a lot of implications in advocacy work and complementing with the BARMM government.
The Mindanao Peoples Caucus in partnership with the United Nations International Organization on Migration through the Supporting Conflict Transformation towards Effective Peacebuilding in the Bangsamoro Region (STEP BARMM) Project, recently conducted a Participatory Action Research (PAR) entitled: “Promoting Conflict Prevention, Social Cohesion and Community Resilience in BARMM in time of COVID-19.”
Various stakeholders and partners from the BARMM government and the CSOs joined together in examining the results of the Participatory Action Research results and findings during the recently concluded Regional Dialogue last March 24, 25, and 26, 2022 at the Waterfront Hotel, Davao City. The PAR findings and recommendations were presented by Ms. Melot Balisalisa-Atillo, the PAR team leader.
After the presentation, the participants were able to offer insights and fresh perspectives in examining the historical patterns of violence and its underlying drivers in BARMM’s most active conflict hotspots. The participants have clarified some points in the presentation, for example, the exact locations of the incidences and the people involved in the conflict, and how these were resolved. All in all, the participants were satisfied by the accuracy of the findings and affirmed the recommendations of the PAR.
Engineer Mojahirin Ali, the Director General of the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority presented the BARMM Development Plan and Roadmap 2025. He emphasized the BARMM government’s drive for inclusivity, reform, and innovation in implementing government projects and programs. He assured everyone that BARMM government were making strategies and decisions based on the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.
Director Farrah Naparan of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) emphasized the need for joint effort between formal and informal sectors. She said that huge part of sustainability is on the part of the government, but there is also a need for work on the ground through parallel efforts of Civil Society Organizations. For OPPAP, they are mostly focused on the soft side rather than the infrastructures. They have conducted consultations and studied again bills, so we can move forward and lobby the NJRCP.
Ms. Melina Nathan lauded the PAR team in the success of the research. She also recognized the hard work of the BARMM government in reducing poverty incidence rate in the region. She also repeatedly emphasized how women must enter the decision making spaces in all structures of the government, from grassroots to parliamentary.
There was a breakout session wherein the participants offered more extensive and detailed narratives of the case studies presented by Ms. Melot Balisalisa during the PAR results presentation. The discussion in these breakout groups included supplementary narratives, analysis of gaps and opportunities in the research outputs, and recommendations for moving forward the different development and sectoral agenda in the BARMM government transition.
There was another breakout session on the last day of the regional dialogue wherein the participants were divided into four groups to discuss four topics. The topics were the following: 1) Strengthening Community Access to Peace Dividends , 2) Conflict Resolution and Peace Mechanisms, 3) Non-Moro IPs Ancestral Domain, and 4) Countering Violent Extremisms. In the open dialogue, the participants learn from each other and hear everyone’s point of view, created rooms for different perspectives and have collectively addressed the gaps in each of the topics based on each other’s experiences.
The last part of the regional dialogue was a sharing and open discussion on partnership building with stakeholders. As CSOs, they must be able to locate their roles in the transition process and think of ways to effectively partner with the BARMM government. Everyone agreed that the results of the PAR and the discussions during the regional dialogue must be communicated to all the ministers so that they can address the recommendations that surfaced from the forum.
The Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC) is a grassroots network of Indigenous Peoples, Bangsamoro and Christian communities and leaders who have common vision for peace in Mindanao. MPC is known to have stood up for the struggle to finally resolve the age-old armed conflict in Mindanao through a negotiated political settlement that contains the essentials acceptable to both negotiating parties and that addresses the historical oppression and forced marginalization of the native inhabitants and indigenous peoples of this island.
As such, MPC is actively working for the strengthening of the participation and engagement of tripeoples grassroots constituency in the Mindanao peace process so as to allow their recognition as self-determining peoples who can develop and govern themselves in the economic, political, social and spiritual spheres of development.
Since its establishment in 2001, MPC has made various breakthroughs in the peacebuilding arena which facilitated significant gains in the peace process.
One of which is the formation of its independent ceasefire mechanism known as the “Bantay Ceasefire” which gained recognition and respect among the formal ceasefire mechanisms of both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Bantay Ceasefire is composed of more than 600 volunteers, from Basilan, Lanao provinces, Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Compostela Valley and Sulu, who are actively monitoring the implementation of the ceasefire agreement.
Given the serious humanitarian crisis that befell Mindanao, MPC has enhanced its work from ceasefire monitoring to humanitarian protection, dubbed as “Sagip Sibilyan”, in order to extend direct humanitarian assistance, from advocacy to capacity building interventions, to thousands of innocent civilians who became forced and direct victims of internal displacement, human rights abuses and military repression.
Since the outbreak of the war in August 2008, the Mindanao Peoples Caucus has been leading the campaign for a ceasefire amidst a highly polarized situation where Christian vigilante groups like the Ilaga (Rat) were pitted against Bangsamoro communities. It has been a total shock among the Bantay Ceasefire volunteers who too were threatened because of their open support to the peace process. Despite constant threats and intimidation and with the hawks gaining the upper hand within the government, the MPC did now step back in its peace advocacy. Seeing the collapse of the ceasefire which Bantay Ceasefire members had painstakingly preserved through vigilance and monitoring work – MPC had to address a serious demoralization problem among its members some of them were even afraid of wearing their uniform vests.
August 2008 and the ensuing backlash in the peace talks leading to an open outbreak of armed hostilities and a massive humanitarian crisis had put to serious challenge MPC’s commitment to peacebuilding and peace advocacy. The August 18 attack by the MILF in Kauswagan and Kolambogan had created such a highly emotional public outrage that even known civil society organizations and peace advocates within these areas at that time could not openly call for a ceasefire as it is misconstrued to be siding with the MILF. The mindset at that time was to avenge the death of innocent victims, have the civilians take up arms and fight to the end.
In 2002, MPC founded the Bantay Ceasefire as an independent grassroots ceasefire monitoring mechanism which since then has grown to over a thousand well-trained and highly committed women and men volunteers. In 2010, upon the invitation of the peace panels, MPC has formally deployed an all-women contingent in the Civilian Protection Component of the International Monitoring Team.
Over the last 10 years, the MPC has been in the forefront of Peace advocacy work and has championed the peace talks between the Philippine Government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front with the end in view of putting a final closure to the armed conflict in Mindanao through a negotiated political settlement. MPC supports the right to self-determination of the indigenous and Bangsamoro peoples and builds the much needed national and international solidarity in support of their struggles.
Mindanao Peoples Caucus envisions peaceful, self-governing and sustainable nations in Mindanao that respect the sacredness of human life in harmony with nature”
MPC works in partnership with grassroots communities and nations in Mindanao towards cultural empowerment, self–governance and sustainable development.
1. To create a sustainable economy and livelihood of nations founded on customary governance on traditional territories with an empowered cultural and well-beings.
2. To strengthen the formation of a critical mass of peace constituency that can influence, pressure and rally behind an acceptable and just political settlement of the armed conflict in Mindanao.
3. To create an enabling environment where rights of the civilians and all the vulnerable sectors will be protected through capacity building, policy reforms, and institutionalization of protection mechanisms.
4. To facilitate the effective participation of grassroots women in peace, governance and development processes through capacity building on transformative leadership, continuing advocacy on UNSCR 1325, and providing opportunities for economic empowerment.
Sinuda, Kitaotao, Bukidnon, October 29, 2011 – More than three thousand members of the Federation of Matigsalog Manobo Tribal Councils, Inc. (FEMMATRICS) joined the mass mobilization in the national highway of Davao-Bukidnon road. Leaders, elders, women and youth in their complete Indigenous attire held placards and streamers along the highway with the following messages: Ancestral Domain is not for sale, Respect Customary Laws, Our Ancestral Domain is for our next generation. The rally was also to inform the public and the government that they are united in protecting their rights and their ancestral domains.
Datu Lito Gawilan, chair of FEMMATRICS further emphasized part of their protest is to affirm and strengthen consolidated efforts at protecting their ancestral domain. The street activity was also part of the national Indigenous Peoples’ (IP) month celebration.
There have been continuing harassment and rampant land grabbing of Matigsalog and Manobo Ancestral domains. Some of the settlers also deliberately do not pay any respect to the tribes’ sacred places.
The route of the peace caravan started from Palacapao, Kipolot of Quezon Bukidnon to Raware, Tawas, Lorega of Kitaotao and headed towards Salumay, Baganihan, Katipunan, Kampo Uno, Ladian, Marahan, Balite, Marilog proper of Marilog District, Davao City. For each station, a speaker of such activity shared a 10-minute sharing on updates and issues and concerns of their Ancestral Domain.
During the street mass mobilization, the participants distributed leaflets outlining their demands to the bystanders.
The peace caravan ended at 6:30 in the evening.