Grassroots Initiatives for Peace (GrIP) Project – Philippines

Peace and Development Covenant

The GrIP Project was implemented through the funding assistance of the Strengthening Grassroots Interfaith Dialogue and Understanding (SGIDU) Program managed by Australian Embassy Manila.

This was implemented at the community level through the Grassroots Initiatives for Peace (GrIP) Project of Mahintana Foundation, Inc. (MFI), in partnership with the Municipal Government of Maasim, Sarangani Province and Maasim’s Barangay Councils in Lumasal and Amsipit. The project aimed to support the peace-building initiatives of the municipality by encouraging optimum inter-community participation on community-based activities that foster inter-cultural and religious understanding, respect, acceptance of different faiths at the grassroots level, and strong community bonding through the involvement of all sectors in the promotion and maintenance of peace. Several of the activities conducted include “Walk for Peace,” Interfaith Forum, and a Training-Seminar on Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Process.

The 5-kilometer “Walk for Peace,” organized by the 73rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, was conducted in June 18, 2009. It was a unity parade that aimed to promote peace in the municipality of Maasim. An estimated 5,000 people participated in the event, comprising of Muslims, Lumads, and Christians from various sectors of the provincial and local government of Sarangani, the Academe, religious groups, and private and non-government organizations. The activity was symbolically carried out by the meeting of two (2) groups assembled at the East and West portions of the municipality covering the 16 barangays, led by Governor Miguel Rene A. Dominguez of Sarangani Province and Mayor Aniceto P. Lopez, Jr. of Maasim, respectively. Their convergence at the municipal hall was a symbolic event showing the “Unity of the Tri-people” not only in Maasim but of the whole Sarangani regardless of tribe and culture. The event opened the week-long celebration of the 37th Foundation Anniversary and 2nd Kestebeng Festival of the municipality, which highlighted the ground-breaking ceremony for the Peace Monument and the conduct of Interfaith Forum on Peace with a theme, “Muslims, Christians, and Lumads: Our Quest for Unity, Peace, and Brotherly Love. Let us Act on it.”

Walk for Peace in Phillipines

Community members of Maasim, Sarangani Province Gov. Miguel Rene A. Dominguez of Sarangani participate in the 5-km “Walk for Peace”

In September 21, 2009, the GrIP project sponsored an Interfaith Forum during the celebration of Eid’l Fitr, simultaneous with the distribution of agro-forest trees and the ceremonial planting of the Tree for Peace. The activity, participated by members of the T’boli, B’laan, Muslim, and Christian communities of Maasim, conveyed that celebrations of Eid’l Fitr and Ramadan were not only for the Muslim community but for the whole mankind, celebrated in various ways by different tribes and cultures.

Joint Celebration of EID in Philippines

Joint Celebration of Eid-el-Fitr as part of Interfaith Activity in Philippines

Following the Interfaith Forum, the GrIP project facilitated a Training-Seminar on Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Process in collaboration with the municipality of Maasim and the Provincial Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) of Sarangani. The training-seminar, conducted in November 18-20, 2009, was participated by a total of 76 residents from 15 barangays of Maasim. The activity aimed to strengthen and enhance the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the Lupong Tagapamayapa members and other Barangay leaders in dispute resolution arising in the community and in managing cases involving women and children.

The activity primarily discussed proper procedures in the implementation of the Katarungang Pambarangay Law (KPL) or the Barangay Justice System. KPL is the country’s response to the continuing global search for indigenous mediation structures capable of resolving disputes within a community and beyond the formal courts of justice. Settling disputes amicably in the community level contribute to the overall promotion of peace and order in the country, lessening possible litigation expenses of both conflicting parties.

Further, the activity has supported the capability-building intervention of DILG dubbed as, “Accessing Justice through protection of Human Rights and Gender Responsive Barangay Justice System.” This is part of its continuing effort to enhance the proficiency of the Barangay officials and Lupon members in performing their mandated tasks and responsibilities in promoting good governance. Other topics discussed during the 3-day training-seminar include Violence against Women and Children (VAWC), Children in Conflict with the Law, Juvenile Justice System, Anti-Rape Law, and Rights-Based Approach: A Gender Perspective Justice System.

Participants in Grassroots Initiatives for Change

Moreover, the GrIP project joined the Barangay Council of Lumasal, Maasim during their 11th Foundation Anniversary celebration in December 13-15, 2009. Highlights of the celebration include the conduct of the Ecumenical service, Cultural Parade and Presentation, and launching of the Peace and Development Covenant Wall.

Peace and Development Covenant Wall

These activities became venues in the promotion of good relationship among the different groups and tribal communities of the barangay as indicated by the various outcome: during the Ecumenical service, five (5) presenters from different faiths offered prayers for peace, development, understanding, and unity of all communities in the barangay regardless of tribe and culture; in the Cultural Parade and Presentation, a total of three (3) cultural minorities (T’boli, B’laan, and Tagacaolo) and Muslim tribes (Maguindanao and Sangil) showcased their best tribal costumes and expressed the richness of their culture and practices through dancing; and community members of Lumasal, including women, children, soldiers, Christians and non-Christians alike, signed on the Peace and Development Covenant Wall to show their commitment as peace advocates of Barangay Lumasal, Maasim, Sarangani Province.

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