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Kalinaw Sarangani (Peace and Development Program of Sarangani)
Peace building initiatives in wartorn Mindanao are not new. But the Sarangani Provincial Government came up with a more comprehensive program for pursuing long-lasting peace; a program that involves practically all its constituents.
In 2004, Sarangani’s Peace and Development Task Force put together a Comprehensive Peace and Development Plan. This became the technical blueprint for the creation of a peace and development program for Sarangani Province, which they dubbed Kalinaw Sarangani.
Kalinaw Sarangani is a program that motivates the different ethnolinguistic groups in Sarangani to coexist peacefully and harmoniously by fostering community dialogues, introducing community-owned projects and creating communities of peace. The program became fully operational after the governor issued Executive Order No.16, Series of 2007 on August 24, 2007.
In a nutshell, Kalinaw Sarangani aims to Institutionalize peace and development efforts by enjoining the citizens in peace building, development planning, decision making, governance and formation of 50 Peace and Development Communities or PDCs. It entails culture sensitivity practices and activities as well as sustainable livelihood assistance, skills development, infrastructure and other social services.
The program has three main components: Peace through Alliance Building and Community Empowerment (PEACE); Madaris for Peace (MaP); and, Special Project with Partners (SPP). All the projects and activities are packaged and implemented with the participation and input of the community members. Thus, skills in managing peace building initiatives are imparted at the grassroots level. The community and beneficiaries also have direct ownership of the projects and activities.
The PEACE project component institutionalizes and promotes a culture of peace among the 50 PDCs. The communities are involved in all the local peace processes in partnership with the barangay officials, influential community leaders, former Moro National Liberation Front combatants and even the Local Monitoring Team of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The MaP component embeds Islamic values education in the curriculum of 50 Madrasah or Islamic schools of the province. This would help mold the students into enlightened, responsible, and peace loving citizens and leaders. Madaris is the plural term for Madrasah.
The SPP component is a project supporting 18 PDCs, which is carried out in partnership with the United Nations-Action for Conflict Transformation for Peace Programme. This special project provides community enterprise development assistance and basic services as well as small infrastructure to the PDCs. In 2008, Habitat for Humanity Philippines and Growth with Equity in Mindanao also started supporting this component. The projects are assessed on whether these bring more conflict or peace to the community. Usually, the community members provide recommendations on how to improve the delivery and impact of the projects.
Kalinaw Sarangani replicates and also builds on the UN Multi-Donor Programme on peace and development. Among the innovations introduced was the putting up of the Tindahan Para sa Kalinaw (TPSK), a small cooperative store. The TPSK is designed so that the women in the community could gather and discuss community perceptions, concerns, and issues and contribute to creating a peace and development community while at the same time help in running a small enterprise.
The local peace consultations and dialogues are conducted in an innovative way as it blends the traditional way of settling conflict with the concepts of peace dialogues. They refer to this process as the Kadsisinabute or Kadsisinabuta. This method is appropriate for the large communities as it enables a whole barangay to discuss peace and development issues as well as other community concerns. The Kadsisinabute is facilitated and managed by the community members themselves.
The Kadsisinabute held in Datu Dani, Kiamba in March 2008 led to the pooling and centralization of assistance from various NGOs working for peace. This was how the Kiamba Convergence was born. The Dialogue with Elders in Maasim created and established a group of local ‘traditional’ mediators composed of elders and datus to solve conflicts and feuds. Skills in community dialogues using traditionally accepted means are practiced by peace advocates to promote a more peaceful community.
Peace Champions or Barangay Peace Advocates are produced by training barangay officials and key leaders on mediation, negotiation, and dialogue. These tools are employed at the community level to resolve conflicts. Local disputes are primarily resolved through discussions among elders and other key leaders in the community. While the Lupong Tagapamayapa settles local conflict and disputes according to the Local Government Code, the BPAs are in-charge of settling the conflict before it escalates. Constant dialogues at the community level are encouraged by the BPAs rather than immediately resorting to filing of formal complaints with the Lupong Tagapamayapa.
Previously, Community Oriented Policing System (COPS) Training at the community level was carried out by program implementers called Kalinaw (Peace) Coordinators. But the communities suggested the inclusion of soldiers, police, former rebels, and teachers among the COPS Training facilitators. Starting in 2009, all COPS trainings are conducted by a composite team made up of the military, police, teachers and barangay officials.
By all indications, the Kalinaw Sarangani program is proving to be a promising way to peace and development that LGUs will do well to replicate the program.
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