The PBCI Information & Communications Team is a group of volunteer writers and web designers at PeaceBuilders Community Incorporated (PBCI) who are working from different parts of the globe. Their task is to document all the activities initiated by the various communities and groups belonging to PAR Philippines — a national peace and reconciliation movement doing inclusive development initiatives, social entrepreneurial training, multiplication of effective peacebuilding workers, conflict transformation consulting, and restorative justice processes. PBCI is a community of missionaries who are dreaming and working together for a just, radical, and active non-violent transformation of our beautiful land.
Dec 01 2017
Rev. Fr. Randy Jasper C. Odchigue, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research at the Father Saturnino Urios University (FSUU), invited Lakan Sumulong to the 3rd Mindanao Peace Studies Conference last 21-22 November 2017 in Butuan City. The conference theme was “Cultivating Peace Through Deeper Understanding”.
Lakan shared PAR principles and practices. PAR is peace and reconciliation. This is the heart of our ministry.
We have developed a whole system of information and communication to share PAR. We also have developed various social laboratories to demonstrate the viability of PAR. In the past 10 years, independent organizations have assessed the impact of PAR In various contexts.
Lakan’s paper, “Peace and Reconciliation Theology as Framework for Transformational Development,” was actually presented last 22 November.
Peace, as understood in Lakan’s paper is: harmony with the Creator (spiritual transformation); harmony with our Being (psycho-social transformation); harmony with Others (socio-political transformation); and, harmony with the Creation (economic-ecological transformation).
He discussed and explored, from an ecumenical perspective, an anabaptist theology of peace as a framework for positive peacebuilding and transformational development.
Reconciliation, as presented in this paper, is the goal of peacebuilding. Borrowing from the concepts articulated by John Paul Lederach, the presentation focused on building relationships between antagonists. The primary goal in a process of reconciliation is “to seek innovative ways to create a time and a place to address, to integrate, and to embrace the painful past and the necessary shared future as a means of dealing with the present.”
Lakan presented a number of actual Mindanao-based transformational development initiatives as models of Peace and Reconciliation Community Development Projects — Indigenous Peoples’ context, Bangsamoro context, and Migrant context — to demonstrate the viability of this theological framework.
There were 350 participants from all over Mindanao who are actively involved in various approaches to peace education.
Ms. Maria Lourdes G. Naquita, the university registrar, hosted the particular session when Lakan did his presentation.
The two-day conference offered plenary talks, workshops, live performances, an indigenous peoples’ forum, and a Junior Scholars’ forum—all in the hopes of listening to the voices of those who promote the culture of peace.
More and more, PAR is being received by Catholic organizations and institutions like FSUU. For this particular development, PeaceBuilders Community is so energized and encouraged. We return all the glory to the God of peace.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2017/12/01/lakan-shared-par-principles-and-practices-to-peace-education-leaders/
Jun 05 2017
PAR is Peace and Reconciliation. PAR is the heart of our ministry.
For the past 10 months, Tala Bautista have been working among pastors, church leaders, and community leaders in establishing a Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) community in the Province of Capiz. It started earlier this year when PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) was invited to join a consortium between the Philippine Relief and Development Services (PhilRaDS) and International Care Ministries (ICM) to serve the people in Panay starting with a program called Capacity-Building for Humanitarian Initiatives in Capiz (CHIC). PBCI was asked to focus on providing a theological-ethical framework for these initiatives. It is in this logistical context that PBCI is able to reach out to these community leaders in Capiz.
Project CHIC is enabling more than 200 pastors to establish a network of faith-motivated leaders and local churches acting as first responders to a disaster impacting Capiz. The consortium is focusing on the poorest LGUs and most vulnerable barangays, especially coastal towns and isolated upland communities. The responses will be rapid, compassionate, culturally appropriate, using indigenous strategies, people, assets, and other locally available resources. The goal of the training for disaster preparedness is to create local capacity to mitigate a disaster’s mitigate on loss or damage to life and property. The vision is to create a local model that could be replicated in Iloilo and scaled-up nationwide.
In 23-26 November 2016, the Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Community in the Province of Capiz was born! Fifty-six (56) community leaders – pastors, college counsellors, school teachers, entrepreneurs, civil society representatives, and various non-government organization personnel – participated in this three-day training and workshop dubbed as Peace Theology and Disaster Response. Through word of mouth, around 300 more Christian leaders requested for the same training and worskshop. PBCI conducted a series of three one-week seminars for key leaders, and those leaders, in turn, echoed the same training seminars to their local contexts.
23-27 May 2017. The 241 graduates of Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Training Program in Capiz have organized themselves as founding members of the PAR movement in this province. Among these graduates, 30 were qualified to participate in a 5-day PAR Leaders’ and Facilitators’ Training.
PBCI prays, and plans, that this humble beginnings in the Province of Capiz would spark the PAR movement in Western Visayas and would significantly contribute to the PAR Vision 2020.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2017/06/05/par-movement-spreads-through-western-visayas-region-of-the-philippines/
May 29 2016
29 May 2016. Dann and Joji Pantoja, founding leaders of Coffee For Peace (CFP) and PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI), met with a group of graduate students from the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), University of British Columbia. This class is led by Dr. Leonora C. Angeles, Associate Professor, SCARP.
This class of 9 graduate students are doing their Masters in Community and Regional Planning. They will be visiting both our Davao and Kalinga operations to learn more about CFP and other programs at PBCI which utilize alternative development and sharing economy through volunteerism. Their learning could be part of a research and capacity building service they can provide by documenting CFP’s history, mapping our organizational development, and assessing program process and outcomes. This practical work-study is part of a Philippine Planning Studio field course which Dr. Angeles is offering.
These UBC grad students, along with Dr. Angeles, will be leaving for a July field research and study in the Philippines, and will be visiting Kalinga and Davao in the 2nd and 3rd week of July 2016.
It was good for Dann & Joji to meet with the leaders of this group at the home of Dr. Angeles in Vancouver during their pre-departure session. In this meeting, the Pantojas shared with them how to understand more the context of fair trade coffee in relation to the sharing economy and alternative development work that CFP and PBCI are doing.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2016/05/29/ubc-grad-students-plan-to-visit-coffee-for-peace/
Dec 05 2014
Introducing “Ruby Hagupit”
Typhoon Ruby, now internationally known as Typhoon Hagupit (Tagalog, “lash”), is expected to make landfall on Saturday evening. Forecasts and trajectory reports indicate confusion and disagreementsbetween different weather agencies. European predictions suggest a direct hit on the country, starting in Leyte or Eastern Samar and making its way northwesterly through the central islands and exiting through the west after potentially scraping Manila. Philippine’s own weather agency, PAGASA, has a consistent report to this, predicting a path similar to last year’s typhoon. Conversely, the American Global Forecast System, which has reportedly performed better than European institutes this year in forecast accuracy, sees the typhoon spiking northwards before hitting Samar head on. However, the Japanese Meteorological Agency’s report corroborates the European forecast. It is more likely that this prediction will be true.
Ruby, which formed earlier this week in the Pacific, is expected to weaken in strength upon landfall, due to pressure changes and temperature differences. The environmental conditions of the Pacific this year are different from last year and will help diminish the strength of the typhoon compared to Yolanda, but it still has the potential to be considered a super typhoon, according to most agencies. Regardless, thegreatest threat is likely to come from the rainfall, waves, and subsequent flooding.
Communities are preparing and/or evacuating in the Leyte, Samar, Surigao, and Agusan regions. Tacloban, the area worst hit by Yolanda, is expected to be skirted by Ruby. With 200-250 Km/h winds and gusts, governing bodies, NGO’s, and local populations are taking few chances. There have been lessons learned from last year, but trauma is still fresh. As a result of last year’s devastation, local leaders have stood before the international community against climate change and its disastrous results. Other studies have been made linking natural disasters to political change. Still, though, development, reconstruction, and rehabilitation have been slow. In all things, despite the overwhelming destruction that comes with these disasters, we can still trust God to redeem all things; may He give us strength and wisdom in the meantime.
At PBCI & CFP, this means —
1. Pray and prepare!
2. Accelerate Support & Field Operations.
3. Secure PAR-DRN Command Centers.
4. Test ICT system.
5. Open dialogue with local and global partners.
6. Respond to government warning systems.
What PAR-DRNs are doing in the hours leading up to landfall
In Ormoc, Leyte, where Typhoon Haiyan caused so much destruction and loss of life just over a year ago, PeaceBuilders Community Incorporated (PBCI) Consultant Kriz Cruzado is hard at work preparing for the disaster relief which will likely be needed after Typhoon Hagupit reaches the Philippines tomorrow. Ever since Haiyan, Kriz has been working tirelessly in disaster relief and disaster preparedness efforts in the Visayan Islands – the region of the Philippines which is most often struck by typhoons. Her efforts have been instrumental in creating and facilitating the Peace and Reconciliation – Disaster Response Network (PAR-DRN), a joint project of PBCI, Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Church Canada, and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches. PAR-DRN has been training pastors and community leaders in the Visayas in disaster response. With Hagupit approaching, Kriz shared this update from Ormoc:
Report from FieldOps Command as of 05 December 2014 at 1335PHT
The Ormoc Evangelical Disaster Response Network (OEDRN) is now officially preparing for disaster response. They will be joined by disaster response networks from Western Leyte (Merida, Isabel, and Palompon), and Northern Leyte (Dulag and Abuyog). All committee teams are now preparing to do their tasks in case a disaster response is going to take place beginning Sunday or Monday (November 7 or 8).
OEDRN’s response office will officially be opened for operation at 1900H today. It will be at Ormoc Light of Light Church, St. Joseph St., Dona Felisa Mejia Subd., Toog, Ormoc City
The disaster response networks (PBCI-organized) in Eastern Samar could not convene to prepare for a response (as a team) because they need to secure their families and belongings; hence the Leyte Chapter will be leading the disaster response.
- Current Number of Evacuation Centers in Ormoc: 7
- Current Available Resources: 7 motorcycles ; 2 four-wheel vehicles
- Current Number of Volunteers: 50 (We need 2 batches with 50 each, so we are currently mobilising 50 more volunteers.)
Depending on the severity of the damage, all evacuation centres will need
- large cooking pots
- sacks of rice
- instant noodles
- canned goods
One Body in Christ touching everyone
All church pastors and church leaders have agreed to host evacuees in their respective churches to organise the evacuees and gather all their available resources and apportion it to everyone while waiting for the emergency relief food.
The church people, who have been trained in disaster response as part of their ministry, will then be organized to work with their respective barangays/villages or cities/municipalities to help in relief operations reaching all members of the community applying Sphere Standards.
The health and paramedics team will need
- gauze bandages
- cloth bandages
- pain relievers
- betaine solution
- rubbing alcohol
- surgical gloves
In support, the volunteers and the whole team resources for coffee and bread will be needed.
Volunteer Stress Level: 3.5
- 1 – low
- 3 – moderate
- 5 – high
- Kriz Cruzado
- Ptr. Vincent Olaer
- Ptr. Paul Villamor
- Ptr. Eric Zabala
- Ptr. Ferdinand Resurreccion Consebido
- Ptr. Lito Dais
Kriz and the team are heading back to Tacloban to get the rope for rapid response, printer for the office, and other stuff we could get.
HERE’S HOW TO HELP:
In the United States, please send your donation to the Mennonite Central Committee.
In Canada, please donate to the Mennonite Church Canada,
In the Philippines, please send your donation to PeaceBuilders Community.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2014/12/05/our-community-declares-red-alert-as-hagupit-lashes-at-eastern-visayas/
Nov 13 2014
We, at PBCI, are so happy that you are here with us during your birthday, Gerd!
Gerd Bartel was the first person in Canada who listened to a dream of doing a church-based peacebuilding mission to the Philippines that would embrace the neighbor, even so-called enemies, with the love of God. A graduate research paper on peace and reconciliation became the initial conceptualization of Peacebuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI).
He and his wife, Regina Bartel, were the ones who welcomed Joji and me to Peace Mennonite Church who initiated this peacebuilding ministry in Mindanao.
We were also introduced by Gerd to Mennonite Church Canada. We eventually became their peacebuilding missionaries to the Philippines.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2014/11/13/pbci-celebrates-gerds-birthday/
Sep 03 2014
Through the visionary leadership of Twinkle “Tala” Alngag Bautista, the Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) movement is being nurtured among the indigenous people in the northern mountains of the Philippines called Kalinga.
:: In 12-16 April 2010, Dann Pantoja felt a need to travel to Tabuk City, the capital of Kalinga Province, to get to know the Kalinga people. There, he was given a whole morning to dialogue with the Matagoan Bodong Consultative Council (MBCC), which, according to Arlene Ethel Odiem of the city mayor’s office, was “the peace and reconciliation elders of the Kalinga people.” Dann was also aware that his colleague, Jonathan Rudy of Mennonite Central Committee, had already been there and had, in fact, conducted a series of peacebuilding seminars among those leaders. But still, Dann strongly felt “there is something existential that connects PBCI and the Kalinga people” which he was not able to describe at that time.
:: In June 2010, Dann & Joji Pantoja met Hart and Ginny Wiens, a Canadian missionary couple to the Philippines who served with the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). Hart and Jenny were from a Mennonite background. They lived with the Kalinga people for 20 years and helped translate the New Testament in a Kalinga language. In the last week of January 2011, the Wiens led the Pantojas through a nine-hour hike to Asibanglan, a Kalinga community where the Weins used to live. There, the Pantojas were invited by the tribal elders to start a coffee livelihood program within the PAR framework. After a few months, PBCI sent Kriz Cruzado and Regina Mondez to conduct an introductory seminar on PAR and Coffee For Peace.
:: In 30-31 May 2011, PBCI was requested by the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) to conduct PAR Facilitators Training among their youth leaders who were involved in social action. Among those youth leaders was Tala—a young Kalinga lady who finished a bachelors degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines.
:: In 07 November 2011, Tala was accepted into the two-year training program with PeaceBuilders School of Leadership (PBSL). She showed high interest and performance in theological reflection, social analysis, and field work. She particularly excelled as a field team leader doing actual PAR community development in one of the most critical areas in Mindanao.
:: In 23 December 2013, Tala moved back among the Kalinga people to fulfill her calling to advance biblical justice, peace, and reconciliation starting from her home tribe. “Becoming a missionary, “ she said, “had been my dream since I was five years old.”
:: In 26-29 August 2014, Tala invited Joji Pantoja to Sumacher, her home tribe in Kalinga. Tala’s family and tribe adopted Joji as one of their daughters. “When the sisters was putting the welcome necklace,” Joji testified, “I was almost in tears for their open arms.” During that time, the Sumacher Tribe expressed their desire to become the initial PAR Community in Kalinga.
We call her Tala – the Pilipino term for star. Tala is a proud member of the Kalinga First Nation and celebrates the fact that she belongs to the Indigenous People: “I’m an IP.” She’s a graduate of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. At an early age, she dreamed to be a missionary. Now that she’s part of PeaceBuilders Community, she testifies with much excitement that she is a Peacebuilding Missionary!
Asked about her passion as a Peacebuilding Missionary: “I believe in the wealth of the indigenous knowledge… I dream of IPs rejoicing in their cultural heritage without shame, freely sharing the indigenous knowledge with the mainstream–the business world, academe, media, etc. The encouraging thing is, there are already steps done to uphold the IPs. We can build on them.”
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2014/09/03/pbci-continues-to-journey-with-the-kalinga-first-nation/
Jun 27 2014
(A field report by Salome Haldemann)
These last weeks we have kept bumping into Central Mindanao University (CMU). Our Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Team in Bukidnon has been working with them for a while now, and helped them build a good relationship with the Talaandig people. PBCI Davao met Dr. Maria Luisa R. Soliven (CMU President) and her team at the Talaandig-CMU reconciliation ritual, and we met them again a week later at the Mindanao Social Business Summit. After many discussions about peace building and conflict resolution, Dr. Soliven invited us to come to Maramag and provide PAR training for the senior officers of the University. They felt a strong need for it, as CMU has been involved in land disputes for about as long as they existed.
So Dann, Joji, Kriz and yours truly peacebuilded up for a trip to Maramag. We were moved by the university’s generosity: on Friday they sent a driver and his van to pick us up, they graciously invited us to stay at the CMU hotel, provided for our meals… On Saturday we met for what we thought would be PAR orientation. Dann explained the major concepts of PAR to Pres. Soliven and the senior staff members. In the course of discussion, the focus changed: it became clear to the board that being trained in PAR might not be the best solution in their current conflicts and that they needed external help.
They told us of the history of CMU, of the various land disputes, of the difficulty that they had to dialogue to find a good solution, of the both sides feeling that they are not listened to. And they asked us to become mediators in that conflict.
Being mediators mean that we will not be on their side, but that our loyalty will go to peace, justice, truth and mercy. Pres. Soliven and the senior members agreed: they want a social approach that values the human factor, a solution where everybody wins. Besides, we cannot be mediators if it is the wish of one party only. Our next move is to meet the settlers who claim the land, talk with them and let them decide whether we will mediate or not. This is the beginning of an exciting adventure, and we pray to be instruments of God’s peace in those land disputes.
Salome Haldemann firstname.lastname@example.org
Salome is our intern from Eglise Evangélique Mennonite de Strasbourg, France. She has been a scout chief for the last 5 years that helped her gain solid common sense and resourcefulness. As an occupational therapist by profession, she has a very good knowledge of human health. She is currently in the stage of her journey when she’s developing “a strong interest for the meaning of a radical discipleship,” and she’s realizing that “there is nothing more revolutionary than building true peace.”
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2014/06/27/central-mindanao-university-invites-pbci-to-help-in-conflict-transformation/
May 17 2014
Pastors and Christian leaders in the Haiyan-affected areas are getting hands-on training in church-based disaster response operations. This program, which is done in partnership with Mennonite Church Canada, Mennonite Central Committee, the Philippine Evangelical Disaster Response Network, and the Peace and Reconciliation Commission of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches is a part of a series of training given to 50 pre-qualified pastors and Christian leaders in various cities and municipalities in Samar and Leyte provinces.
The major activities in May include the following:
- May 6 – 9, 2014. Twelve (12) pastors coming from Dulag, Leyte and from Lawaan-Guiuan Areas, Samar finished the Peace and Reconciliation – Disaster Response Network (PAR-DRN) Leadership Training.
- May 13 – 16, 2014. Twenty-two (22) pastors coming from Ormoc-Kananga Areas in Leyte Province, and from Lawaan Municipality in Samar Province finished the PAR-DRN Leadership Training.
These training events have three components:
Component 1: PsychoSpiritual Counselling and Trauma Healing Processes
:: The Circle Process Approach. This provides a culturally-sensitive process in debriefing pastors. Professional and trained debriefers are facilitating this process and a series of questions will be asked to help the participants express their emotions, fears and hopes. The Circle Process provides a safe space for everyone to express their vulnerability, but also process their aspirations as individuals, family and church leaders. Having been debriefed, these pastors are expected to become psychologically-fit to provide stress debriefing to their church members and their respective neighborhoods in the barangay.
:: Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) Training. This is a training for the pastors on how to conduct stress debriefing among their immediate community and barangay neighborhoods.
Component 2: Disaster Risk Reduction and Post-Disaster Response Training
:: Disaster Risk Reduction Management Training/Trauma Awareness and Resilience (S.T.A.R) Training. This training enables participants to identify risks or threats prior to the onset of a calamity; thus helping them prepare and reduce disaster risks. Furthermore, this helps them become aware of the presence of trauma following a disaster and helps in their recovery, development of capacity, and coping mechanisms.
:: Post-Disaster Response Training. Participants are taught how to seek and network for support from the Social Welfare and Development and other relevant government offices and access other services for additional support, i.e. livelihood program. Also, using the Do No Harm Policy, participants are taught how to provide relief services, reducing the risk of conflict.
Component 3: Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Training
This training will be conducted three months following the DRR and Post-Disaster Response Training to further equip Christian churches with skills necessary in dealing with intra- and inter-organizational conflicts. This will also be the best time to monitor and evaluate the replication of the first two training conducted in various churches. The PAR Training is composed of three books:
:: Biblical Foundations of Peace and Reconciliation
:: PeaceBuilding Skills Development
:: Community Development Principles and Practices
The participants are carefully screened to ensure their ability and commitment to teach their constituents and to replicate the skills they learned in this program. The 50 pastors and Christian leaders in Eastern Visayas have made a prior commitment to use their local resources in training their own church members. It is expected that each of these 50 pastors and Christian leaders would be able to mentor at least 4 volunteers – that’s 200 in total – to actively participate in DRR, post-disaster response and trauma debriefing.
We, at PBCI, will do our best in our training and consulting work so that the Christian leaders in the field will have the capacity to respond rapidly, efficiently, and effectively during times of calamities that frequently strike these provinces.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2014/05/17/mennonites-support-church-based-disaster-response-training-program/
Oct 20 2013
17-19 October 2013, Davao City. Coffee for Peace (CFP) took the lead as the major partner of the 2013 Davao Trade Expo (DaTE 2013) for the coffee industry. The theme of the 15th DaTE was Empowering the Farmer: Engage. Enable. Excite. It is the biggest agribusiness expo in Mindanao and is spearheaded by the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCCI). This year’s expo was held at the SMX Convention Center, Lanang, Davao City.
DaTE 2013 focused on the “golden crops of agriculture,” namely cacao, coconut, coffee, corn and cassava. The said crops have an increasing demand not only locally but as well as in the international market. This expo brought together global and national speakers and specialists to provide essential ideas, best practices, and updates on agricultural standards, emerging markets and build business relationships among agriculture players. It has also provided the platform to discuss on availability of products and technology in the local market, matching of local market to the international market, addressing various socio-political issues affecting the agriculture sector at present and conference of the best practices of the concerned industry.
Joji Pantoja (CFP’s Chief Operating Officer), and Pastor Eddie Isada (CFP’s Plantation Management Consultant) were two of the seven speakers for the said conference. Joji began her presentation by sharing Peace Theology as the framework for CFP operations. She also shared the CFP experience in the value chain approach to coffee business. Finally, she explained the core values of CFP which are:
- transparency in partnership with the farmers;
- protection of our environment;
- empowerment of the community;
- peace in our home, community and our land; and,
- excellent quality of products and services.
After all the inspirational coffee business stories, one of the most awaited part of the program was the technical aspect of coffee production which was well explained by Pastor Eddie. When the session ended, a lot of farmers and interested participants went to Pastor Eddie to get his contact number for training events in the near future.
The break-out session for the coffee industry was attended by around 200 people coming from all walks of life and yet interested in the coffee industry. CFP’s marketing coordinator, Dawn Albert Pates, facilitated the break-out session.
Originally founded by PeaceBuilders Community as a conflict transformation space in the field, CFP has been growing as a community of conscientious individuals who are passionate about business-for-profit, addressing social issues that concerns the farmers, the environment, and the peace situation in our land by advocating Fair Trade in the coffee industry.
CFP looks at fair trade as a business approach to achieve justice and peace in our society and in our environment.
Coffee For Peace, as a business corporation and as a community, includes:
- A Board of Directors who are made up of business executives, community leaders, creative communication professionals, and academics.
- A management team led by a business talent with 20 years of world-class financial planning experience in Canada. She is a degree holder in Food Service Administration and a coffee connoisseur.
- The wisdom, knowledge, and experience of a team of dedicated agricultural engineers and agriculture specialists with a combined experience of more than 75 years.
- A community-network of well-trained and justly-treated farmers who supplies us with their produce at fair traded prices.
Since the inception of CFP in 2008, the company has been gaining many awards and recognition because of its efforts in addressing the social issues that concerns the farmers, the environment, and the peace situation in our land.
Reported by Dawn Albert Pates, CFP Marketing Coordinator
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2013/10/20/coffee-for-peace-is-a-major-partner-of-the-2013-davao-trade-expo/
Oct 03 2013
The 2013 Zamboanga Crisis did not just happen. While the people were shocked by the seemingly uncontrolled war between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), we see some patterns at work that are similar to various disasters happening around the world. Those observable patterns can be referred to as manifestations of Shock Doctrine.
Shock, displacement, and loss of dignity. “I just want to recover Papa’s body,” Ramel said as a military truck filled with soldiers in full battle gear rumbled by. It was the 18th day of war in Zamboanga City and his father was taken by unidentified armed groups during the second day. “My father was opening up shop in Talon-Talon when the rebels stormed our house. They took him, my two sisters and my two nephews,” he said. His nephews were let go after a few days. His sister managed to escape on 21 September with the help of their dad but they were separated when firefight ensued. Ramel and his brother have been scouring military offices and the funeral home to look for their father.
Meanwhile, 134,359 people were displaced. Despite efforts to help the evacuees, there was so much more to be done. “I line up at 5:30 in the morning to get breakfast for my family, I get it at 7:30 am,” Gaspar, one of the evacuees narrated. “I will never choose this kind of life for my children. I am a fish dealer and I pay my taxes. But now, we live on a pair of clothes and line up for the comfort room,” he said. “There are people here who treat us like dogs,” another evacuee shared.
He is a Muslim and dogs are considered haram or forbidden.
Shock and confusion. On the surface level, the war stemmed from the desire of the Moro National Liberation Front to re-assert itself. However, statements from two MNLF Facebook pages, both claiming to be official, were contradicting each other. One was ordering MNLF troops not to obey combat instructions while the other asserted independence. The supposed Facebook account of MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari has been posting ground reports on AFP’s alleged violations.
Witnesses’ accounts were also varied. Several evacuees who live in the battle zone said that they were wakened up at around 1:00 in the morning of 09 September to gunshots. They rushed out to escape but were forced to retreat because MNLF fighters and government forces were already battling out in the main exit route of their neighborhood. These evacuees reported that the first shots were from the MNLF.
Other evacuees said MNLF fighters were in their neighborhood prior to the war. “They said they only wanted to put up their flag in the city. They will be having a rally. We were surprised when the rally turned into war.”
There was a notable division of responses among Muslim and non-Muslim interviewees. A Muslim interviewee pointed out, “Why is it that the only places being burned down are Muslim areas?”
Another interviewee said, “When I came to the evacuation center and a policeman learned I am a Tausug, he said that Nur Misuari who started the war is a member of my tribe.” Whether the discrimination was factual or perceived, this issue should be addressed properly by all sectors involved.
Another observation was the lack of voice for the Bajaos. All of the Bajao interviewees had difficulty articulating their concerns. Their children had little education in accordance with the public school system. Although language barrier is a factor, we hope there will be an effort to dig deeper into the Bajao issues and bring it to national consciousness since they are also as affected by the war in Mindanao as the other ethnic groups.
All of them whether Muslim or non-Muslim had one plea, “Please stop the war. Tell us what is happening.”
Shock doctrine. In seeking to understand these mindless acts of violence, we, at PeaceBuilders Community Inc. (PBCI), chose to use an analytic framework of Naomi Klein in looking at disasters like the Zamboanga Crisis. Klein asserts that “free market policies of Milton Friedman have risen to prominence in some countries because of a deliberate strategy of certain leaders to exploit crises by pushing through controversial, exploitative policies while citizens were too busy emotionally and physically reeling from disasters or upheavals to create an effective resistance.”
According to her, Disaster Capitalism or Shock Doctrine is similar to a shock therapy used in both Canada and the USA in the last few decades in which patients in mental hospitals were given beyond normal therapeutic electric shock treatment. This shock therapy is an attempt to remove psychological resistance; it creates a tabula rasa personality in which doctors can imprint anything into the persons memory system. When the individual’s personal narrative is erased, a new narrative can be configured into one’s psyche.
The shock doctrine is also applied to a country’s political-economic system. Klein has pointed out several examples in which the shock doctrine was used during the coup in Chile under the leadership of General Pinnochet. It was used in Bolivia, Poland, Russia, South Africa, the tiger economies in the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and the occupation in Iraq.
Shocked Zamboanga. In Zamboanga City, people affected by the war shared narratives that showed indications very similar to the global observations of Naomi Klein.
More than a hundred thousand people were displaced, struggling to have the most basic needs of food and shelter. They do not have the luxury to voice out their current plight and suffering. As Kaiser, one of the interviewees aptly said, “I only have a pair of women clothes and we cannot even use the toilet properly.”
As we were talking, one of them pointed to black smoke rising in front of us. “Look at that smoke. That is where we live. I thought the war is over. Why are they still burning our homes?” he asked.
Physically, several neighborhoods that were affected by the war in Zamboanga were virtually erased — a literal tabula rasa for new developments.
In one of her local radio interviews, the mayor of Zamboanga City, Maria Isabelle “Beng” Climaco, said that the people can go back to the areas if they have land titles. Most of them had none but were born there.
A similar scenario happened in the aftermath of the tsunami that happened in various coastlines of Southeast Asia in December 2004. The question would be, in the future, are we going to see high-end real estate developments in those Zamboanga City lands that supposedly have no titles? We really hope this would not happen.
These neighborhood fires also happened in other areas where the armed clashes between the government forces and the Moro rebels took place — Rio Hondo, Talon-Talon, Sta. Barbara and Mariki. These neighborhoods are along the mangrove area, coastal area and near the city proper which indicate high economic viability. The urban poor, mostly Moros, used to live there.
Tadzmahal, another evacuee said, “I don’t believe that the MNLF burned our houses. Many times, we see a tora-tora fly over our barangay then after a few minutes, we see black smoke go up. It is soldiers burning our houses.” They refer to government warplanes and helicopters as tora-tora.
In another evacuation center, we were told by several women that their respective husbands stayed in their houses in Sta. Catalina. They did not want to leave for fear of looting and burning. One of them narrated, “Around a week ago, my husband and some other men saw a hand coming out of the small opening in the covered canal. When they opened the canal, four MNLF [fighters] came out. Three men and a woman. They have lots of money and many kinds of cellphones. The MNLF [fighters] said they had been in the canal for four days and nights. They wanted to surrender because they had not eaten for four days. They had no more bullets. My husband fed them and then called for the Marines. Then two days ago, red alert was raised in our barangay (Sta. Catalina) because the MNLF [fighters] had escaped. That is impossible. They were in the hands of the Marines and they escaped? After that, soldiers and local officials told our husbands to get out because they have to look for the MNLFs. Our husbands stood their ground. Who knows, when they leave, our houses will get burned down too. Where will we go?”
Two other interviewees said that one of the four MNLF fighters died after their surrender.
Ramel’s sister, one of the hostages and the first that we had talked to, told a similar story. On 21 September, the MNLF command that took them hostage had no more bullets. As she and other hostages tried to escape, military forces kept on shooting despite their cries that they are civilians.
Another interviewee affirmed the same thing. “A family tried to go back to their house two days ago and they were shot,” she said.
An evacuee with six children with ages ranging from 7 years to 2 months was worried about her husband who was detained when he went home to get their belongings.
Another woman was crying because her brother was nowhere to be found. “He is uneducated and if he is mistaken as MNLF, he will not be able to explain himself,” she said.
The women were all living in Sta. Catalina.
A soldier in an earlier interview also raised a similar question. “If you are the father, isn’t it that you would protect your children? The civilians are like the government’s children. They have to be taken out of harm’s way. But what can we do? We are simply following orders. You are observers. Do your work,” he said over and over again.
All of the interviewees, coming from various sectors, were surprised by this prolonged war in Zamboanga City. As a media report said, there were attempts of surrender from the MNLF but was ignored.
Disaster capitalism and war. One may also look at the Zamboanga Crisis from a global perspective. We have expressed our view that the United States intervenes in the affairs of smaller countries, like the Philippines, motivated by their global War on Terror. The American foreign policy is largely influenced by their fear, insecurity, and economic interests. Southeast Asia is a major focus of their global security concern.
David Stockman, a bestselling author and budget director under the Reagan administration, admitted American interventionism as one of his country’s major problems. And he made a strong argument that the necessity of such war against terrorism is baseless. According to him, the War on Terror is a part of a “historic building blocks of a failed Pax Americana.”
The fear that the Zamboanga Crisis evoked can be used by the American government to pour more of its taxpayers’ money on securing American interest in Southeast Asia. Some of this money may be shared to the Philippines which might even be promised to a select few in high positions to invoke war. It may also be used by some politicians to sway the public attention from the pork barrel scam or by anti-peace forces to derail the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Before Sen. Miriam Santiago’s speech, several Tausug leaders also whispered to us that Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile allegedly funded the MNLF operations in Zamboanga. This does not prove anything but it hints a reality that there may be a few highly-placed people who are orchestrating the war for their own interests.
There’s also an angle that we need to look into: the fact that the Philippine government is buying attack helicopters, warplanes, warships, and various sorts of military hardware. We know, for example, that:
- The Philippine Navy awaits delivery of 5 helicopters.
- The Philippine Air Force will get new warplanes by 2014.
- The Department of National Defense is buying 2 brand new warships.
- The Philippines is seeking modern military hardware from the US.
The Zamboanga Crisis would be a very convenient argument for the military and the Department of National Defense to justify the purchase of the above-mentioned defense products.
Shock doctrine and the media. Another sector to look at is the media. In theory, the media is the watchdog of the society, the fourth branch of the government. It is supposed to present fair and balanced news.
In practice, however, media also has its gatekeepers. News has to sell so what we mostly see are emotion-filled news and sometimes exaggerations. Media outlets have owners and these owners are the same families from whom politicians, businessmen and people of power come from. Media can be used to protect the interests of its owners by putting a blanket on information.
To give few examples based on the Zamboanga Crisis, the team stayed where the media were stationed. Here are some of our observations:
- A broadcast journalist from a national radio station was reporting regarding the situation on the ground. He was actually reporting based on the facts before us. A military truck was passing by and an ambulance went out of the area. But the way he said it evoked images of carnage and of an ongoing firefight. He even interviewed our team leader in the middle of his report. We wondered what emotions will it evoke from the people in other parts of the country?
- After the government’s “mission accomplished” declaration, the only news reporters that were allowed to go inside the war zone were the three big media companies in the Philippines. They were only allowed to go there together for three minutes, driven by a military car and accompanied by a soldier. Their stories, of course, were told from the same point-of-view. And that’s the kind of stories on our news headlines and the same video images we get on national television.
Mainstream media can be used, wittingly or unwittingly, as a tool to perpetuate mis-information. They can create a new narrative that erases the people’s narrative. Through their lenses, the evacuees will be told that it’s not safe to live in their neighborhoods and homes anymore. Habier Malik, the MNLF Commander “who led the attack” is not yet captured and is still roaming around. He will be back and he will show himself again.
To protect the people from the return of Malik and “the MNLF attackers,” the government, then, would assure the evacuees that, in their goodness, the displaced people will be relocated in various areas deemed more safe and secure with new homes provided by benevolent foreign aid organizations.
But there’s a more realistic fear we’re facing than the return of Commander Habier Malik and his armed band. We’re afraid that new real estate developers would soon enter those war-torn neighborhoods. We’re afraid that by now, they may already have good development plans — new housing projects, shopping centers, parks, roads, and religious buildings. We’re afraid that the people behind these plans would have all the legal papers and formalities prepared faster than the healing process of the people’s trauma. Such is our fear of the reality of disaster capitalism in the 21st century.
Beyond shock, active hope. We wish that our analysis that causes us to be afraid is dead wrong. We wish the government and the big real estate developers would truly support and assist the people to get back to their neighborhoods, rebuild their homes, and continue on with their lives.
We wish. And we’ll go beyond wishing.
We’d rather hope. Hope is not just a noun. Hope is a verb. Hope is an action word.
To start with, let us hope in God. We need a kind of spiritual strength that can sustain us for a long-haul as we struggle for justice and peace. This spiritual energy is needed as we seek to see through the facades of the taken-for-granted realities dominated by greed, corruption, injustices, lies and abuse of power.
This hope in God liberates us from our fears and gives us courage in the face of the realities we tend to be afraid of. This is active, empowering hope!
A New Testament writer understood this source of hope and courage as he was contending against the injustices of the Roman Empire:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me,that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Ephesians 6:10-20 (New International Version)
Let’s hope for the strengthening of our being. We get back from the paralysis of shock when we start focusing on who we are. We are human beings. We have inherent human rights. We are people with dignity.
Let’s hope for the clarity of what we will be doing. We will rehabilitate our lives. The government and the powerful people may assist us. But it is us who will actually need to decide to get up from where we have fallen. It is us who will decide to stand up. It is us who will decide to start walking again. It is us who will decide to start running the race of life again.
Let’s hope for the attainment of what we would be having. Our needs are not just material things. Our needs include the following:
- social aspects of life — respect, security, participation
- cultural aspects of life — culture, spirituality, identity
- material aspects of life — food, shelter, health care
Let’s master all these perspectives of hope.
Then let’s practically share them with those around us in Zamboanga.
Or wherever you are in this planet.
Reported by Twinkle Bautista. Interviews by Joji Pantoja, Twinkle Bautista, and John Mel Sumatra. Photos by Byron Pantoja. Edited by Dann Pantoja.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2013/10/03/the-zamboanga-crisis-a-case-of-shock-doctrine-application/