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How Bantay Bayanihan strengthens bond between AFP and the People

It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child. The same principle applies in coming up ways to ensure the country’s security. It calls for “bayanihan,” a value that is already inherent in Filipino culture.

Taking responsibility

Simply put: Everyone must get involved. After all, it’s an issue that affects the whole nation.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) itself knows that military solutions alone will not suffice in helping the country move forward. The military also has to reach out to the people and assure them of their friendship and protection.

With that in mind, the AFP Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan was crafted and developed.

Nearly five years since its implementation, the IPSP Bayanihan has clarified the roles of the different security players which, aside from the AFP, include the Philippine National Police (PNP), the local government unit (LGU), and other stakeholders in peace and internal security.

Major General Leo Cresente Ferrer (retired), a member of the Joint Normalization Committee, briefs members of civil society organizations under the Bantay Bayanihan network during the "Seminar Workshop of Bantay Bayanihan Civil Society Organizations (CSO) on Normalization in Bangsamoro" in Davao City on last June 26, 2014.
Major General Leo Cresente Ferrer (retired), a member of the Joint Normalization Committee, briefs members of civil society organizations under the Bantay Bayanihan network during the “Seminar Workshop of Bantay Bayanihan Civil Society Organizations (CSO) on Normalization in Bangsamoro” in Davao City on last June 26, 2014.

Empowering people

Moreover, IPSP Bayanihan is the only peace and security plan that has opened space for the institutionalization of civil society involvement — the Bantay Bayanihan.

Launched on November 29, 2011, the Bantay Bayanihan is a civil society-led initiative, which created an oversight body over the armed forces. It serves as a dialogue space where issues of peace and security can be openly discussed.

Bantay Bayanihan has likewise conducted periodic evaluations on the implementation of the IPSP Bayanihan and has provided recommendations to the AFP Chief of Staff at the national level and to the Commanding General at the unified command/division/brigade level.

Steady steps

In April 2015, AFP chief of staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. issued the rule of engagement between AFP units and the Bantay Bayanihan network to further institutionalize the active partnership between the civil society groups and the military.

On June 25, 2015, the National IPSP Bayanihan Conference was held so the Bantay Bayanihan could deliver its periodic assessment of the implemetation of the IPSP Bayanihan.

The conference was attended by the AFP Chief of Staff, the AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, J3, as well as representatives from the general headquarters, Major Services, and Unified Commands.

Representatives from partner institutions such as the PNP, Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Security Council (NSC), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), House of Represenatives, as well as other stakeholders.

Source: “United We Stand: How Bantay Bayanihan strengthens bond between AFP and the People”, 30 June 2015, Moveon.ph, http://www.moveon.ph/united-we-stand-how-bantay-bayanihan-strengthens-bond-between-afp-and-the-people/

Nurturing a ‘peace-centered’ village in Sulu

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Adversity is said to beget adversity.

But in conflict-torn Sulu province, hope beckons from a youth-led, peace-building initiative that has transformed an almost deserted village of Parang town into a vibrant community of some 300 families where people regard social harmony as equally important to their need for daily subsistence.

And with the Bangsamoro transition on the horizon, the experience of building and sustaining a so-called “peace-centered community” in Parang’s Barangay (village) Silangkan provides vital lessons on how to organize and maintain law and order in the future autonomous region’s culturally diverse communities.

“The Silangkan experience is a story of community folk taking care of and nurturing the peace,” said Rosemain Abduraji of the nongovernment organization Tumikang Sama-Sama (TSS), or Together We Move Forward.

“While we practically need the police for law enforcement, there is no pillar stronger than the people taking responsibility for keeping the peace in their community,” she said in an interview with the Inquirer during a recent peace seminar in Davao City.

The strong desire of Silangkan folk to keep the peace is borne out of a recent episode.

In 2001, government forces bombed the coastal village while pursuing Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari who had gone on a rampage after falling out of the political graces of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The assault on Silangkan left a deep sense of insecurity among the villagers. After the manhunt for Misuari had long ceased, many villagers chose not to return except to tend to their farms during the day.

Soon, the village became a halfway route for Abu Sayyaf bandits, whether for escaping toward island hideaways or getting into the Sulu mainland.

In 2012, the Jolo-based TSS staff went on a 45-minute drive to Silangkan to enjoy its pristine white-sand beach. There, they had a chance encounter with Abdtazir Tingkasan, a former MNLF commander and among the few residents who remained in the village.

What was supposed to be a weekend getaway turned out to be a deep and engaging conversation about an aging man’s dream for his family.

“The commander told us how much he wanted his children and grandchildren to acquire an education so that they would have a bright future,” TSS staff member Khamar Alama said. “We didn’t expect to have a very emotionally touching exchange with him.”

Alama and TSS colleagues, who are trained in conflict mediation, began planning how they could help fulfill Tingkasan’s dream.

“We started with a community dialogue. We had people express what they wanted to see happen in their community and how they could help achieve these goals,” Abduraji said.

Simple rules

“Mainly, the Silangkan villagers don’t want a repeat of the 2001 experience when they were bombed by the military. They also resolved to address a host of family feuds which had resulted in the displacement of involved parties, hence lessen their opportunities for earning income, thereby perpetuating poverty,” Abduraji recalled.

The Silangkan villagers agreed on a set of seemingly simple rules to keep the peace:
— Monitor people entering their community to guard against the intrusion of bandits.
— No public display of firearms to prevent unintended provocation.
— Organize households into clusters of 10 led by an elder to whom problems were first referred, and if unresolved, were elevated to the higher leadership layers—barangay officials or local police.

“These three basic rules are contained in a community covenant that the households signed,” Alama said.
Bonding

With peace taking root, the displaced families returned. Soon government service came, like medical and dental missions. The village’s elementary and high schools were repaired.

The community’s peace infrastructure has been maintained. After every congregational prayer, people hold a community dialogue presided by the elders whereby issues and problems are openly discussed and resolved, said Alama.

“This makes the bond among villagers stronger,” he added.

Three years on, with peace in their midst, Silangkan folk are able to look forward to a more hopeful and promising future like developing the village’s ecotourism potentials.

Silangkan also hosts schoolchildren from at least three neighboring villages that have no schools.

“For its role in maintaining access to education, Silangkan is becoming a lighthouse for other areas,” Alama said.

Experiences like that of Silangkan are rich models for lessons on community policing “that hopefully can be mainstreamed and become the norm,” according to Kathline Tolosa of the Security Reform Initiative.

Pieter Cronje, consultant to the Bangsamoro Community Policing Project of the British Council, said that such an approach was fitting for postconflict situations.

“In the 21st century, you cannot conduct policing in a military manner,” Cronje emphasized.

The concept of community policing was developed more fully by the United Kingdom after riots rocked south London in 1981. It sought to address racial discrimination in the conduct of law-enforcement work.

Tolosa said that her group was hopeful the emerging approach to community policing in the future Bangsamoro would be a mix of international and local experiences.

To ensure a high degree of success, the policing approach that must be developed for the Bangsamoro should be “along the grain of local practices and culture,” said Nicholas Thomas, British Council country director for the Philippines.

Alama and Abduraji, who are in their early 30s, hope law and order issues in the province would be resolved by Sulu folk who know more about its solutions than anyone else.

For the long-standing and seemingly intractable problem of community conflicts in Sulu, it bodes well for the entire Bangsamoro that the innocence and fresh perspective of youth, if harnessed, can make a difference.

Read more: Rosauro, Ryan, “Nurturing a ‘peace-centered’ village in Sulu”, 16 June 2015, newsinfo.inquirer.net, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/698710/nurturing-a-peace-centered-village-in-sulu

BB undergoes orientation on community policing in Basilan

 

ISABELA CITY, Basilan, June 15 (PIA) – The Basilan Bantay Bayanihan, a multi-stakeholder group that monitors the implementation of the Internal Peace and Security Program (IPSP) Bayanihan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines underwent an orientation on community policing, recently.

Around thirty participants coming from the different civil society groups, non-government organizations, some government line agencies, the military, police and other security sectors, including women, youth, and religious sectors were gathered for the baseline study on community policing held at the Querexeta Formation Center, this city.

The Security Reform Initiative (SRI) who serves as the national secretariat for Bantay Bayanihan spearheaded the study with the support of the British Council, and funded by the United Kingdom Government’s Golden Thread Community Policing Program.

Maribel A. Dano of SRI said that the project was conceptualized to increase the public’s knowledge on community policing and come up with a community policing strategy. It added that the project uses a “bibingka approach” emphasizing that a top-down approach should not be imposed to communities but rather the communities should be on board at the start of developing the community policing strategy.

She explained that community policing is a method of policing based on the joint effort of the community and the police in working together, identifying and understanding problems, coming up with solutions to alleviate the problems, and implementing the solution.

“Community policing is not only about crime, it is about the quality of life of the community because there are issues (like poverty, access to education, poor health service) that surrounds community policing. It rests on a shared understanding of the community and the culture, concerns, and priorities of the community,” Dano said, stressing that it requires the active participation of the community from the initial stages as well as in implementing the plan of action.

Through dialogue and workshops, the participants shared their collective understanding of community policing. Each agency and organization also shared the programs and activities implemented to address issues related to peace and order.

The orientation-workshop was the first of the three waves that the project will unfurl, said Dano, which is awareness, consultation and feedback.

The SRI has tapped Nagdilaab Foundation Inc. as its local partner for the conduct of the community policing project in Basilan. SRI is also conducting the same to the provinces of North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, and Sulu. (ALT/RVC/PIA9-Basilan)

Source: Carbayas, Rene V., “Bantay Bayanihan undergoes orientation on community policing in Basilan”, 15 June 2015, news.pia.gov.ph, http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/1421434356606/bantay-bayanihan-undergoes-orientation-on-community-policing-in-basilan#sthash.oEtLRjIe.dpuf

Bangsamoro Basic Law: Ready or rushed?

 

The month of June is known as the month for opening of classes, start of the rainy season, and of course for our country’s independence. But this year, it is also now closely watched as the month when the fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is set to be decided.

BBL’s June 11 deadline is just around the corner. Some are saying that the proposed law is being railroaded and being rushed. Others, meanwhile, have cautioned the government not to hurry, to take more time to analyze, to understand and refine it through appropriate amendments and revision.

Is it really being rushed? Or is the Bangsamoro Basic Law ready to pass?

“A few days back, the Bantay Bayanihan and Security Reform Initiative started the first leg of Bangsamoro Basic Law Forum in an attempt to break the misconceptions and to “get the facts straight,” said Kathline Tolosa, Convener of Security Reform Initiative and Bantay Bayan Initiative .

A discussion was conducted, giving the audience, which consisted of media personnel, public information officers, teachers and students, a chance to express their views and opinions, and to ask questions to clarify things.

The panelists were Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Undersecretary Maria Cleofe Gettie Sandoval, Director of Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy Amina Rasul-Bernardo, Sister Arnold Maria Noel, and Paul Paguya of the All Out Peace movement.

Then the controversial question was asked: “Is the Bangsamoro Basic Law being rushed, or is it really ready for passage?”

“It is not being rushed. In fact, this law has undergone more than 50 hearings and consultations, whereas no other law passed in history has undergone that much,” said Sandoval.

Paraguya then articulated that the BBL itself is ready to be passed, considering the way it has been presented and the amendments, but “the social process and the political will is the problem.” He explained that some of the politicians are not ready, or do not have the political will, to pass the law.

Meanwhile, Amira Bernardo said that “(In BBL,) there are no guarantees, but there are laws that will make people accountable.”

The stakeholders said there is no way to foresee the events that will happen once Bangsamoro Autonomous Region is created. If it is a risk, it is a risk worth trying in order to achieve peace, they added.

And in order to achieve peace,Sandoval highlighted that military force approach is not enough. Instead, there has to be an effective peace process to go with that approach – and BBL is necessary for the peace process.

“If we do not let the BBL pass, it may take another 100 years (to be passed),” Sister Arnold Noel said. She also expressed her plea to our lawmakers, “Let’s set aside our biases and look forward to our future generation,” as prejudice and personal biases are seen to be the reason why there seem to be problems on social process and political readiness.

Source: Aenlle, Kathleen Betina, HOT TOPIC, “Bangsamoro Basic Law: Ready or rushed?”, 05 June 2015, www.moveon.ph, http://www.moveon.ph/hot-topic-bangsamoro-basic-law-ready-or-rushed/

 

Bantay Bayanihan Davao hosts Multi-sectoral Advisory & Action Group Gen Assembly

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Bantay Bayanihan Davao, thru ADDU COPERS, hosts Multi-sectoral Advisory and Action Group General Assembly. The 4th MSAAG General Assembly was held at the Ateneo De Davao University Board Room last June 3, 2015.

The MSAAG was attended by Civic Leaders, Officials of National Agencies, the Religious, Sudents and Youth, and Security Sector.

Among the issues discussed were the Salugpungan Schools, the Security Terrain, the engagement modus of Battalion Commanders with CSO’s and the organizational structures of the MSAAG.

Dumaguete forum to tackle BBL provisions

 

SOME 150 civil society organization members are expected to participate in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) forum today at 9 a.m. at Negros Oriental Convention Center in Dumaguete City.

According to Bantay Bayanihan Negros Oriental chapter lead convener Marietta Jambora, the forum is a joint effort with Security Reform Initiative to inform the public about the important provisions of the BBL.

“In the midst of all the newspaper articles, radio commentaries, and social media memes on the BBL, we also invite the general public to join the forum,” said Jambora.

The Bantay Bayanihan group said the forum will provide a space for an informed and pragmatic conversation where accurate information may be shared as well as apprehensions and concerns may be taken up.

Assistant secretary Jennifer Oreta of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) and some members of the National Peace Council will present the key features of the BBL of which the proposed law will help enforce peace and order in Mindanao.

Source: “Dumaguete forum to tackle BBL provisions”, 04 June 2015, Cebu Daily News, http://cebudailynews.inquirer.net/58612/dumaguete-forum-to-tackle-bbl-provisions#sthash.AeukfVKC.dpuf

BBL Forum in Dumaguete (Thu) – PRESS RELEASE

About 150 members of civil society organizations are expected to participate in the Bangsamoro Basic Law forum at 9 a.m. Thursday to be held at the Negros Oriental Convention Center in Dumaguete City, a press release from organizers said.

Marietta Jambora, Bantay Bayanihan Negros Oriental chapter lead convener, said the forum is a joint effort with the Security Reform Initiative group to help the public understand the provisions of the BBL.

The forum will provide for informed conversations where information may be shared, and concerns may be taken up.

Assistant Secretary Jennifer Oreta of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Political Affairs and members of the National Peace Council will present key features of the BBL, the press release said.

Bantay Bayanihan is a network of civil society organizations now reaching 150 network-members in 16 conflict-affected areas nationwide, and performs an oversight function on the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ implementation of its Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan. The Security Reform Initiative is an independent think-tank engaging the security sector in pushing for key policy and institutional reforms, the press release added.*

Source: http://www.visayandailystar.com/2015/June/03/negor3.htm

 

CSO leads Bangsamoro Basic Law forum in Dumaguete City

DUMAGUETE CITY, June 2 (PIA) — Some 150 civil society organization members are expected to participate in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) forum on June 4 at 9:00a.m. at Negros Oriental Covention Center, Dumaguete City.

According to Bantay Bayanihan Negros Oriental Chapter lead convener Marietta Jambora, the forum is a joint effort with Security Reform Initiative to inform the public and understand the important provisions of the BBL.

“In the midst of all the newspaper articles, radio commentaries, and even social media memes on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, we also invite the general public to join the forum in bringing the discourse back to the strengths, challenges, and main features of the proposed law,” said Jambora.

The Bantay Bayanihan group said the forum will provide a space for an informed and pragmatic conversation where accurate information may be shared as well as apprehensions and concerns may be taken up.

Assistant secretary Jennifer Oreta of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) and some members of the National Peace Council will present the key features of the BBL of which the proposed law will help enforce peace and order in Mindanao.

BantayBayanihan is a network of civil society organizations—now reaching 150 network-members in 16 conflict-affected areas nationwide performing an oversight function on the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ implementation of its Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan.

The Security Reform Initiative (SRI) is an independent think-tank constructively and critically engaging the security sector in pushing for key policy and institutional reforms. (mbcn/jct/PIA7-Negros Oriental)

Source: Tilos, Jennifer C., “CSO leads Bangsamoro Basic Law forum in Dumaguete City”, 02 June 2015, news.pia.gov.ph, http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/1111433224138/cso-leads-bangsamoro-basic-law-forum-in-dumaguete-city#sthash.Loco4Uey.dpuf

33 ex-rebels to get help

 

Thirty-three former members of the rebel New People’s Army will receive financial assistance of P65,000 each today, at a turnover ceremony led by Gov. Roel Degamo, at the Negros Oriental Convention Center in Dumaguete City.

The Comprehensive Local Integration Program Committee for former NPA members, chaired by Degamo, had earlier processed the documents of the 33 former rebels, who are now qualified to receive the “Immediate Assistance and Livelihood Assistance”, of P15,000 and P50,000 each.

The CLIP seeks to contribute toward achieving the goal of permanent and peaceful closure of all armed conflicts with non-state armed groups.

Officials from the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Army, Philippine National Police, and the Bantay Bayanihan, representing a civil society organizations sector, will attend the turnover of checks to the former rebels.

Degamo had reiterated that the provincial government is extending its all-out support to the national government efforts to attain lasting peace in the province, that was declared last year as conflict manageable and development ready, after the insurgency problem was reduced to an insignificant level.

Meanwhile, a forum on the Bangsa Moro Basic Law will be held June 4 at the plenary hall of the Negros Oriental Convention Center, Marietta Jambora, lead convenor of the Bantay Bayanihan-Negros Oriental, said.

Members of the Peace Council Manila will answer queries on the BBL. The event is being organized by the Bantay Bayanihan-Negros Oriental chapter, as requested by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Jambora said.*JFP

Source: Partlow, Judy F., “33 ex-rebels to get help”, http://www.visayandailystar.com/, 26 May 2015, http://www.visayandailystar.com/2015/May/26/negor1.htm

 

NegOr remains conflict manageable and dev’t ready province

 

DUMAGUETE CITY, May 25 (PIA)– Negros Oriental remains conflict manageable and development ready province as confirmed by the Internal Peace and Security Operations (IPSO) Central Command here.

Commanding officer of the 302nd brigade, Philippine Army Col Allan Martin confirmed this during the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting held recently at the old session hall of the provincial capitol building.

However, Col Martin suggested that an independent body preferably from the academe, religious sector, business sector, socio-civic organization and labor groups can make a separate assessment as to its validity.

Council members approved during the meeting that a technical working group headed by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Bantay Bayanihan will convene the group with five members to conduct a separate study and assessment to confirm if Negros Oriental is indeed conflict manageable and development ready.

Meanwhile, the 302nd BDE, PA through its Bayanihan Team Activities (BTA) will conduct a simultaneous daily feeding with the local barangay health workers in three identified conflict-affected municipalities namely: barangays Pindawan and Tanlad in Ayungon, barangays Hagtu and Arebasore, Mabinay, barangays 3 and 4 in Siaton and barangay Candau-ay (dumpsite) in Dumaguete City.

The said project will be launched on June 5 at Bethel Guest House and will be attended by Dr. Donald Soriano, Bethesda Ministries Executive Director.

In another development, Engr. Franco Alpuerto, NegOr Provincial Engineer informed  the PPOC that the province has allocated some P220M for infrastructure projects and for the purchase of heavy equipment for concreting of roads especially in identified critical and far flung areas.

Engineer Alpuerto also confirmed that the provincial government submitted a project proposal for additional funding by the national government  for P230M specifically for road projects/improvement which he confirmed as already approved and once released will be due for implementation.

The Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (NOPPO) also reported that the peace and order situation in Negros Oriental is manageable.

According to PSupt. Reynold Andot, the PNP in Negros Oriental gets the trust and confidence from the community as evidenced by the cooperation and support from the people in its anti-criminality campaign and law enforcement operations. (mbcn/lpp/PIA7-Negros Oriental)

 

Source: Pagusan, Leandria, “NegOr remains conflict manageable and dev’t ready province”, 25 May 2015, news.pia.gov.ph, http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/1971432254389/negor-remains-conflict-manageable-and-devt-ready-province#sthash.HDtWX7j6.dpuf

 

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