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Brokering Peace to Resolve Conflicts: Part II

Date: April 3, 2024

By Aldrin Norio and Denise Cadorniga

In early 2023 Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) brokered a peace agreement between the Abbas group and the Philippine Army after a violent clash disrupted the community of Bato Mapoteh for six months. When NP accompanied displaced families back to their home, the team knew that the process wasn’t over. While an initial agreement brought a momentary peace – rebuilding and reintegration were the next steps to a lasting peace.  

Rebuilding Back Better

In May 2023, NP embarked on another mission to advocate and mobilize every possible support to residents of Bato Mapoteh towards rebuilding their neighbourhood. In addition, NP knew that reintegration of members of the Abbas group back into their community was key to the group avoiding the use of violence again.  As NP does not give tangible materials, facilitating access of returnee residents and former combatants to appropriate services is one of the concrete interventions the NP team can do to support relief and recovery efforts. 

NP visited the provincial office of the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) to request ongoing skills development training programme for residents of Bato Mapoteh, especially the members of Abbas group. NP made an appointment with the Office of the Provincial Administrator to ask for any assistance that could be extended to returnees. Likewise, the team approached the local office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) to request materials the families needed in agricultural farming.

NP also spent time visiting with the local residents of Bato Mapoteh and members of the Abbas group. While the returnees are starting to settle back in their neighbourhood, the destruction of community structures such as the mosque, schools, and houses are glaring. The following day, NP communicated the team’s assessment to Vice Mayor Istarul and the local Army Commander. One positive outcome of the conversation with them was the commitment in rehabilitating the mosque with the former pledging the needed materials while the latter offering his men to help in the repair.

The Mission Continues

It is very important to us—the effort that NP makes. Their presence has a good impact on us. Truly helpful," said by Hadji Samad Ahaddin, a MILF Leader involved in the negotiations. “Napaka importante sa amin yung effort ng NP kasi nagkakaroon talaga ng magandang impact kung nandyan ang NP. Nakakatulong talaga,”

He added,“ (NP) has always been the partner I contact whenever there’s an incident or whenever I need help talking to the government... NP becomes my partner in resolving different matters."

"Siya yung palagi kong partner kung may mga incident kasi na kinocontact namin… humihingi ng tulong minsan sa pag usap doon sa gobyerno kasi magiging partner kami doon sa pagka resolba ng mga iba’t-ibang nangyayari…”

Through the application of unarmed methodologies, NP’s work is aimed at reducing the cycles of violence and increasing the safety and security of civilians impacted by violent conflict. The efforts supported by NP in Bato Mapoteh is a concrete example of interrupting cycles of violence—starting from facilitating shuttle diplomacy to intervening in the conflict, providing protective accompaniment to displaced population, and linking relief and rehabilitation to ensure a lasting peace.

In reflecting on how he felt about NP's support to the resolution of conflict in Bato-Mapoteh, Ganie Amlain, NP Team Leader shared, "I feel that helping is not only done by giving relief goods but also facilitating peace dialogue. I feel satisfied and happy to see evacuees returned to their community. They are always grateful. If you see them, I feel pride that we are one of the catalysts of this intervention."

“Doon ko na-feel na hindi lang pagbibigay ng relief goods ang pagtulong, kundi pati ang pagfafacilitate ng peace dialogue. I feel satisfied and happy to see evacuees returned to their community. Lagi sila nagpapasalamat.Kung makita mo sila, nakakaproud na we are one of the catalysts of this intervention”

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This initiative is part of the conflict resolution  initiatives under the EU-funded ATTAIN Project or Accompanying the Transition, Transformation of Conflict, and Advocacy on Social Cohesion in the normalization of Bangsamoro currently being implemented in BARMM, Regions 9, 10 and 12 to complement the civilian protection component of confidence-building and security measures under the normalization and opportunity to broaden the practice of unarmed strategies in conflict transformation and social cohesion to a wider geographical scope in Mindanao.

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