The need for protection in Philippines
Mindanao has a long history of internal conflicts because of historical injustices, economic deprivation, and a marginalized population. In addition, the Moro people and indigenous people, called Lumad, struggle for the right to self-determination. The Philippine government was locked in a war in Mindanao with Moro groups from the late 1960s until a peace agreement was signed in 2014 with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Despite the peace agreement, increased access to firearms, long-running clan feuds, and the emergence of extremist groups have continued to put communities at risk of violence. In 2017, for example, ISIS-inspired local and foreign armed groups sieged Marawi City for five months. The siege displaced hundreds of thousands of families, leaving them to live in temporary shelters, evacuation camps, or with relatives for months on end.
NP’s work in Philippines
NP is an implementing organization of the ongoing peace process between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government. Our mandate for implementing the peace process includes:
- Monitoring and reporting individuals’ concerns about safety.
- Protective accompaniment for civilians and organizations in areas of conflict, including NP team members accompanying hostage survivors to reunite with their families.
- NP monitors whether conflicting parties are abiding by ceasefire agreements, and it verifies and reports compliance and noncompliance of agreements.
- NP creates safe spaces for peaceful dialogue between different stakeholders in the country, including local institutions, for community-based conflict prevention and conflict resolution.
- Training local leaders and organizations in UCP methodologies for monitoring, unarmed peacekeeping and civilian protection.
The future of NP’s work in the Philippines
To broaden the appreciation and acceptance of Unarmed Civilian Protection (UCP) in the country, NP is working to increase awareness, engagement, and participation by building support at the local, regional, and national levels.
Doing this, NP needs to continue to provide training to communities. Achieving this process is essential towards achieving peace in Mindanao. Ongoing support ensures communities will be able to continue civilian protection and promote the practice to neighbors, moving us closer to our vision of a worldwide culture of peace.