Tag: Mindanao PeaceWeavers


Last night, after two days participating in a Joint Advocacy Planning, I had a great time with my friends and colleagues from the ‘All-Out Peace Network’ and ‘Mindanao PeaceWeavers’ — Yols Rafol Esguerra, Violeta M. Gloria, Ryan Rosauro, Edsal Edres, Randy Ponteras, and Lyndee Prieto.  We had laughters, food, and great espresso-based beverages at Coffee For Peace Bistro.

We missed most of our colleagues from various parts of the country who needed to fly back home.

I’m grateful for friends and colleagues who are so committed to love this land and people by advocating justice and peace. Being around these folks energizes me to continue working for peace and reconciliation in this beautiful land.



I was asked to give an opening statement as part of the hosting group. Photo by Violeta M. Gloria.

Just before this relaxed evening, this same group were part of a conference among the leading peacebuilding and human rights advocates from all over the country. We were expanding our constituency base.

The Mindanao PeaceWeavers, with whom PeaceBuilders Community is affiliated, served as host to this national conference we refer to as ‘All-Out Peace Network’. I was assigned to welcome the delegates and to give a keynote address to help set the theme and atmosphere of the conference:

“We hope to forge joint actions in promoting an advocacy agenda on the peace process and humanitarian appeal… prolonged armed conflict and humanitarian crisis in Marawi/Lanao… taking into account the growing uproar on the culture of impunity with the killing of Kian delos Santos as a potential tipping point…”

The conference objectives were:
a. To draw reflective analysis on the various conflict milieus and contextual factors that underpin the peace process and change agenda;
b. To identify the crucial role of civil society actors in engaging the peace process and addressing the security challenges brought about by the human rights situation and the threat of violent extremism;
c. To develop a common action agenda and civilian advocacy roadmap as basis of concrete collaborative actions on peace and human security of participating networks

Some of the major tasks that were accomplished were:
a.  Defining a scope  — we formulated a desired change, vision, idea, measure, or project. (What will be different?)
b.  Mapping the forces, ideas, people, happenings that may impact successful implementation of desired changes.
c.  Assigning scores as to weight of the identified forces, and tried to see what total force combined.

I learned a lot from this seasoned community organizers and movement leaders. One of the highlights of my learning was an approach to process people and organizations towards a broad coalition of justice and peace advocates.

Some questions that assisted us in determining who should be involved and why are as follows:
:: What roles do various stakeholders play in the process (authority, role)?
:: Who will participate in the process?
:: Who are the potential beneficiaries?
:: Who will be adversely affected?
:: Are the stakeholders organized?
:: Who has existing rights? Who has control over resources?
:: Who are likely to be voiceless?
:: Who are likely to mobilize resistance?
:: Who are dependent on whom?
:: Who are responsible for the intended plans?
:: Who has money, skills, or key information?
:: Whose behavior has to change for success to be reached?
:: What power gaps exist between staleholder groups? How to deal with them?


Joint Advocacy Planning. All-Out Peace Network. Brokenshire Conference Center. Davao City. 07-08 September 2017.

Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2017/09/09/im-so-energized-by-the-dedication-of-my-peacebuilding-colleagues/


Participants and leaders in the Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW) and All-Out Peace (AOP) take time for this photo opportunity after a dialogue with Mohagher Iqbal, Chair of the Peace Implementing Panel, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) . 25-26 July 2017, The Pinnacle Hotel and Suites, Davao City, Philippines.

More than 30 peacebuilding leaders from all over the country met to compare notes on our field experiences as we face the realities of Martial Law in Mindanao, the Marawi Crisis, Human Rights under Duterte, and the increasing number of killings related with the War on Drugs.

We listed our fears and hopes from the field. It was so inspiring that we have three times the number of pages on ‘hope list’ than ‘fear list.’ The energies of peace transcend the energies of unpeace.

Here were the highights of this conference:

Based on what we’ve heard, we were able to work together towards forging synergies.




Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2017/07/27/indigenous-peoples-muslims-and-christians-gather-to-listen-to-each-other/


Government troops are seen during their tactical operation against the Maute Group-ISIS who have taken over large parts of the Marawi City. 25 May 2017. Photo by Romeo Ranoco

The 2017 Marawi Crisis. The initial skirmishes started in the afternoon of 23 May 2017 between Philippine government security forces and the Maute Group, who were joined by the Abu Sayyaf groups, and claimed themselves to be part of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The clashes began when elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) launched an operation in Marawi City to serve a warrant of arrest against Isnilon Hapilon. Hapilon is a leader of the Abu Sayyaf who was in Marawi to join forces with the Maute group. The Maute group had pledged allegiance to ISIS and are believed to be responsible for the 2016 Davao City bombing according to AFP and PNP reports.

They also occupied the main street and set fire Saint Mary’s Church and Dansalan College, run by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. The group also attacked the Marawi Cathedral of the Roman Catholic Church, taking The Rev. Fr. Teresito ‘Chito’ Soganub, its Vicar-General, along with several church-goers as hostage.


The downtown area of Marawi City burns as the Philippine Air Force sustains its air strikes against the Maute Group-ISIS.

At around 11:20 PM, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law all over Mindanao from Moscow, where the Russian government was hosting him with several of his government officials. Maute group militants attacked AFP’s Camp Ranao and occupied several buildings in the city, including Marawi City Hall, Mindanao State University, a hospital and the city jail.

On 26 May 2017, the AFP stated that some of the terrorists are foreigners who have been in the country for quite some time, offering support to the Maute group in Marawi.

Almost one month after the Marawi armed conflict started, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that over 314,800 people are displaced. 94 per cent are staying with host families, while 17,700 (6%) people are staying in 83 evacuation centres.

As of 28 June 2017, the casualties reported are as follows:

  • 299 militants killed (11 foreigners)
  • 9 militants captured
  • 71 government forces killed (10 by ‘friendly fire’)
  • 297 government forces wounded
  • 110 civilians dead (59 due to illness)

Most government agencies and civil society groups responded promptly to the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) with relief goods and emergency services.


Residents of Marawi are moving out of the armed conflict area towards the adjacent City of Iligan.

It’s easy to be merely reactive in this kind of an all-out war scenario. But we want to be proactive. So, we have to look deep within ourselves and make sure that our actions are centered on who we are, which will determine what we will do and what we need to have.

:: First, we will stick with our sense of identity and will be governed by the heart of our mission. PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) is a fellowship of Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) missionary-consultants — peace building operatives, conflict transformation specialists, restorative justice practitioners, disaster response specialists, and community development workers — who are dreaming and working together for a just, radical, and active non-violent transformation of our beautiful land. We normally work in partnership with religious institutions, civil society organizations, political fronts, business corporations, and government agencies.

PAR is the heart of our ministry. PAR is Peace and Reconciliation. Peace—from the Hebrew term ‘shalom’ and the Arabic term ‘salaam’—is understood here as 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). Reconciliation is focused on building relationships between antagonists. The primary goal 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.

All our activities in Marawi will be framed in peace-and-reconciliation principles and practices.

:: Second, we will listen to all parties and yet remain on the side of the civilians, both Muslims and Christians, in our actions (programs) and words (official statements). 19-21 June 2017. I joined the 50 leaders and representatives from various civil society organizations who belong to the Mindanao PeaceWeavers. We met in Cagayan de Oro City to compare notes on their perspectives and activities in response to the Marawi Crisis. Our group proceeded to Iligan then to Marawi for a Peace and Solidarity Mission.


1. Lakan Sumulong exchanges perspectives with Lt. Col. J. Herrera, the spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the Marawi Crisis. 2. A Muslim representative from the victims of this war, accompanied by Christian civil society colleagues, shares her views and feelings to AFP officers. 3. Lt. Col. Mamon (a field commander of AFP), Jehan Usop (a Muslim civil society leader), and Lakan Sumulong (a Christian peace worker) pose for a souvernir photo symbolizing inter-faith, action-oriented peace dialogue.

We did a lot of listening. We listened to the volunteers who were rescuing civilians trapped in the crossfire. We listened to the quietness of abandoned homes, destroyed neighborhoods, and militarized zones. We listened to the provincial authority’s political and human security perspectives. We listened to the police and military officers’ view of the armed-conflicted areas. We listened to civilian evacuees and their narratives. We listened to fellow civil society leaders from Marawi City and its immediate surroundings make sure that our interventions are culturally-sensitive and ethically-appropriate. The ‘listening process’ of the entire mission is a combination of dialogue circles, key informant interviews, humanitarian & psycho-social activities, and group conversations which culminated into a solidarity conference among civil society networks.


1. Gus Miclat (Executive Director of the Initiatives for International Dialogue), Zia Alonto Adiong (spokesperson of the Lanao del Norte Crisis Management Committee), and Lakan Sumulong (President of PeaceBuilders Community) pose for a picture after a brief information exchange. 2. Brig. Gen. Rolando Bautista (Commanding General, 1st Infantry ‘Tabak’ Division, AFP) and Lakan Sumulong show the “Bangon Marawi” banner representing the civil society Peace and Solidarity Mission to Marawi. 3. Lakan Sumulong, Reinna Bermudez (representing the Commission on Human Rights), and Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo (a Muslim human rights lawyer) briefly shared human security concerns at the Lanao del Sur Capitol Complex.

The whole 3-day event ended in a day of listening session to each other as an All-Out Peace Movement.Together, we were able to develop initial strategic course of actions on how we would respond to Marawi as a network of civil society organizations.

:: Third, we will continue to support the Peace Process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). We affirm what the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Jess Dureza, said: “I always say this before, and even now, I can build easily the [physical] structures destroyed by the [armed] conflict. I can also build the school buildings that were burned down. But building of the relationships, bringing back social cohesion, and mending the torn social fabric brought about the conflict takes time. The healing takes time.”

We also laud the statement of the MILF expressing their determination to continue the Peace Process, particularly their call to proceed with the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB):

The MILF is firm in its resolve to settle the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people through the negotiated process now contained in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The different mechanisms of the peace process are still engaged with their esteemed counterparts in government and are working towards finding ways on how best to address the challenge posed by the violence being committed in Marawi by groups who have chosen to take violence without regard to the best interest of our people. Now more than ever, the MILF and the government must work closely to ensure the protection of the gains of the peace process and to even forge with greater resolve to immediately implement the peace agreement so that no other groups may use its non-implementation to justify their continued pursuit of violence for violence’s sake.

For PBCI, the most practical next step in the implementation of CAB is for the Philippine Congress to pass the newly-drafted Bangsamoro Basic Law.

:: Fourth, we will start our Marawi PAR initiatives through psycho-social debriefing and peace education of children traumatized by this continued violence. The Maute brothers were young men who embraced the violent, radical expression of religiosity propagated by ISIS. They were able to recruit hundreds of young people with their ISIS outlook and were able to challenge the AFP and the PNP over the control of the Islamic City of Marawi.

We, at PBCI, are encouraged to help in this psycho-social debriefing as our response to a Shariah ruling or fatwa promulgated by the Bangsamoro Mufti, Sheik Abehuraira Abdulrahman Udasan against the entry and spread of violent radicalism or extremism in any Bangsamoro community.


Please continue praying with us as we discern the Spirit in our on-going response to this human-induced disaster.  Pray for sensitivity and humility among us, leading these operations, and among our field workers, so that we might not do harm as we seek to do good.

Our continuing prayers, and the long-term action path we are taking, are:

  • rescue;
  • relief;
  • rehabilitation;
  • restitution;
  • reconstruction;
  • reconciliation; and,
  • rest.


Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2017/06/29/reflections-and-action-plans-as-we-serve-civilians-in-war-torn-marawi/