Community Peace Recovery and Reconciliation in Filipino Indigenous Communities
Author: Md. Mizanur Rahman
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on: 01/09/2012
Community Peace Recovery and Reconciliation in Filipino Indigenous Communities
UPEACE Asia Leaders Fellow, Md. Mizanur Rahman, presents an empirical study on peace and environmental conflict among indigenous communities in the Philippines
Abstract: The Community Peace Recovery and Reconciliation (CPRR) model is a community-centered and driven approach intended to not only establish peace between or among isolated and conflict-affected communities, but rather to install social norms and fundamental social infrastructure to maintain communities’ mutual code of peace in the long run. Recent literature in different countries strongly emphasize that the CPRR model is community friendly for the resolution of all types of conflicts that exist between indigenous and/or isolated communities. The major objective of this paper is to investigate the rationality of the CPRR model’s applicability to resolve conflicts between the Filipino indigenous communities. At the same time, one of the major findings of this paper is that there is lack of authentic literature between the intra- and inter-conflicting issues of Filipino indigenous communities. Therefore, the study suggests initiating empirical research on intra-conflicts that exist between the indigenous and isolated communities in The Philippines, which eventually can determine the demand for the CPRR model in solving those existing conflicts.
Introduction: The Community Peace Recovery and Reconciliation (CPRR) model is a community driven process to analyze all aspects of conflict between isolated communities to develop mutual social conduct in order to establish sustainable peace and recovery, and to ensure human security. But in the national legislation process, the elite policies related to peace and conflict resolution are only discussed at the national and international level, not at the community level, which is known as a top-down approach. Therefore, the voices of the people in the community are not heard for resolving any conflicts that exist within the communities, which generally inspires more intra-conflicts. The resulting answer is that the seed of conflict remains at the bottom between and among the communities as a parasite. Nevertheless, the CPRR model is aimed toward the settlement of all kinds of community conflicts; with proper negotiation and consultation by communities’ stakeholders, it applies a “Bottom-Up” policy implementation approach where community voices are the central factor for peace settlement. Therefore, CPRR is a potential model to be used to solve the intra-conflicts that exist between the indigenous or isolated communities through the reconciliation process. This paper is based on an empirical study focusing on whether the CPRR model is applicable to solve the intra-conflicts of Filipino indigenous communities.
Literature review and rationality of the study: The CPRR model is also known as the Community Social Peace model, which was first developed and launched by ACORD in Burundi in 2001. The CPRR Model helps community people be empowered to solve their own conflicts themselves and to recover a peaceful and mutually developed social code of conduct respected by everyone. The CPRR model has been finally developed and published in 2011 as a handbook for its wide usage by UNDP, The Agency for Co-operation and Research in Development (ACORD), the National Steering Committee on Peacebuilding and Conflict Management (NSC), the Ministry of Provisional Administration and Internal Security, and the Office of the President of Kenya. The divided and affected communities get support by using this model to generate mutual leadership within the communities to conduct the process of dialogue and negotiation by the community for sustainable peace recovery. Consequently, the purposes of the model lie with: a) proper community scans or assessments for community dialogue to share experiences and mutual future commitments; b) acknowledgement of justice and historical issues among community members; c) community negotiations on constructing the future formation of a social code of conduct for peace; and d) jointly designed and executed peace through proper community infrastructure, such as a mutual social code of conduct.
The content of the CPRR model entails three broad phases, including eight major steps. The first phase is the preparatory phase, made up of four major steps where the initial examination of conflicts takes place to identify its scope and substantial significance. The second phase is Securing Community Social Peace, consisting of three major steps for analysing the various issues of conflicts in the community and facilitating rapprochement between conflicting communities. It is also involved with healing and reconciliation, joint identification of solutions to conflicts and negotiation of a code of conduct to establish peaceful cohabitation. The final phase is Sustainability through Peace and Recovery Project, consisting of a major last step, which provides guidance on the important process of consolidating the negotiated peace in the inter-communal peace and recovery project. The CPRR model is practically very significant for community usage under the fulfillment of the following circumstances: a) geographically, communities are very close to each other; b) the communities are divided and affected by various conflicts; c) the causes and results of those conflicts are still considered as dominating factors of the destruction of lives, physical or social infrastructure including livelihoods; and d) the code of social conduct is absent; even if social norms exist, they do not work. The speciality of this model is that it also integrates affected communities’ stakeholders to identify the vital mutual code of human activities and abilities that communities intend to practice as peacebuilding for the long term.
The CPRR model can be used for any type of isolated and divided communities. Consequently, it is not only related with the indigenous communities. Practically, the reconciliation model has been used with different names and mechanisms in different corners of the world. Here are some examples below:
Kenya: The recent elucidation of the intensive internal conflicts related to resources such as pasture, water and livestock made Kenya known as an encouragement for peace and stability in the region. However, history says that since the 1990s, politically motivated violence, especially in the 2007 post-election period, and the level of conflicts related to social, political and economic affairs caused 1,000 deaths, the displacement of more than 5,000,000 persons, including vast destruction of property, livelihoods and the economy. In fact, the primary sources of conflicts are considerably more deep rooted and largely linked to access to the land. On 28 February 2008, Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the UN, together with the Panel of African Eminent Personalities, developed a power-sharing deal between two main rival parties, which eventually formed a coalition government in 2002. However, the post-election violations remained and continue to form a block between groups and communities. In this regard, in early 2011, the government of Kenya with the help of ACORD and UNDP took a strong initiative to develop the CPRR model to empower the community people toward sustainable peace recovery by themselves.
Central Kalimantan, Indonesia: In Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, ethnic violence has been destroying human security during the last decade. Most importantly, on February17, 2001, the Dayak group (local indigenous group) attacked and killed a member of the Madureses (another local indigenous group). As a result, the following day, the Madureses burned down Dayak’s home and killed a number of Dayak. The next day, armed Madureses overtook the main town and urban Dayak radioed rural Dayak for armed support. However, the majority of the people in the community did not accept this kind of violence. As a result, the village government has been formed through an intensive reconciliation process to establish the mediation mechanism “Community-based Consensual Meeting” to strengthen community empowerment to stop any kind of violence that takes place inside the community.
Rwanda: A national process of justice and reconciliation was initiated in Rwanda in 2001, when 120,000 suspects were rounded up and imprisoned, some without any sentences or prosecution.
The 2003 and 2004 release of approximately 58,000 prisoners who went back to their communities and waged violence against the Gacaca court witnesses, threatens the peaceful environment of the community. Since 1994, fear and suffering among genocide survivors have continued. No individual or community was spared from the destruction of the genocide. Since that point of social devastation, World Vision has been actively involved with a Healing, Peace-building and Reconciliation (HPR) program, which highlighted both positive changes and challenges. By 2007, there were approximately 10 trained HPR community facilitators who have been making a positive impact towards the human security of the community people of Rwanda.
Palestine: The existing Palestine-Israel relationship, often treated as zero-sum issues, like the Right of Return of Palestine refugees or recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state”, can never be fully resolved and deemed acceptable by the parties. Therefore, tons of recent literature says that the reconciliation would need to be rooted on the ground. One goal of this intergroup reconciliation must be involved with building incentives within Israeli society for a historical shift towards the land’s natives.
Somalia: Somalia is a nation with the existence of many rival groups in its territory, which failed to harvest a post-war leadership capable of leading the country out of its conflicts. As a recent, the unpublished report of WSP International argues that peacebuilding in Somalia requires reconciliation for the restoration of trust and peace. This is because the conventional power sharing approach to the resolution of conflicts has been ruined due to its inability to keep the power balance among all parties.
CPRR model in the Philippines context: The Filipino indigenous people, 18% of the total population of the country, are greatly affected by the dominant money economy and oppressive practices against them. There are two types of indigenous communites, Tribal and Muslim. Tribal indigenous people (IPs) consist of 55 different ethno-linguistic groups in six different geographical locations, and Muslim IPs comprise mainly Maranaos, Maguindanao and Tausugs communities with 10 percent of the total indigenous population.
The Philippines’ civil society peace actions can be organized into five broad categories based on their working scope and approach. Among them, “Peace Constituency Building” is the most valuable approach, which acknowledges the sustainable peace and governance reforms of the communities. A good example of this approach is the “Peace Zone”, which is a community based initiative to stop and prevent violence towards gradually restoring and enhancing peace in the community. In the Philippines, according to the time factor, there are the following two waves of community peace zones: a) in the period of the first wave of community peace zones (1988-1994), there were more than ten communities; and b) in the period of the second wave (2000-2005), more than fifty-six communities have declared peace zones in which no armed groups, state or non-state, may enter.
Theoretically, the big difference between the existing “Peace Zones” model and the CPRR model lies with the centralization of the community voice. This is because in the Peace Zone model constituency and mechanism were declared by local government officials, instead of community, and for which the model was not effective and sustainable (Ferrer, 2006). On the other hand, the CPRR model is absolutely community-voice centered (ACORD, 2011), which has not been done in the Philippines before.
Development aggression causes the loss of ancestral land, disarticulation of communities, and obliteration of the traditional way of life, economic insolvency and political marginalization of groups such as the Cordillera People’s Alliance and the Minority Rights Group. However, although indigenous people want immediate benefits though new market-oriented modes of livelihood, they face many difficulties in regards to the following major crises: a) the changes are imposed from above; b) their consent and participation is not a concern; c) erosion of their traditional way of life; d) discrimination and consummate force; and e) deprivation with sometimes token concessions.
Furthermore, the Philippines has an extensive history of ideologically motivated conflicts, which encompass indigenous communities in different corners of the country. This situation is increasing intra-conflicts among these communities, which does not allow them to be united; rather, they become isolated and unable to fight for their rights under one umbrella. The gap between the indigenous community people and policymakers is also very alarming. For instance, section 14 of The Indigenous People Rights Act directly excluded people of Cordillera and Mindanao from forming their own indigenous domain and from having access to their own practices. In countries like Kenya, Indonesia, Rwanda, Palestine, Somalia and others where the CPRR model or any similar model has been used for community peace recovery through a community driven approach and reconciliation, similar crises have arisen, like in the Philippines, dealing mainly with land possession and armed and ethnic conflicts due to the absence of community voice in the process of policy formulation, implementation and execution.
According to the report of 2010 of the US government on human rights in the Philippines, armed conflict is one of the principle crises that Filipino indigenous people have often suffered. Sometimes they are displaced from their homes due to their location in inhabited mountain areas favored by guerrillas. Their lands are often the spots of armed encounters. They also suffer from ethnic conflicts among themselves. Therefore, after examining the recent literature on the various broad crises of Filipino indigenous people, it is deemed that the CPRR model can bring the voice of indigenous people to the policymakers for the establishment of sustainable peace, not only among or between the communities but rather from the national to the community level. But at the same time, lack of substantial information or conclusive evidence of conflicts between the Filipino indigenous people is the most concerning issue for immediate research to understand properly the implications of the CPRR model.
The Filipino indigenous communities are divided now mostly by intra-conflicts. There is no conclusive evidence on the integration process of community voice, making the communities further isolated and their voices unheard. Socio-economic growth, including human development, now faces a critical situation mainly related to conflicts based on various types of natural resources and environmental degradation and depletion. In order for the resolution of those conflicts to take place, the implication only of various mechanisms related to natural resources and environmental conflicts is not enough; rather, implementing strong public policies based on community voice is required, which must be community driven. Therefore, the CPRR model might be considered as the right process for sustainable conflict resolution and its maintenance thereafter. Still, there is a lack of recent literature related to intra-conflicts among and between the Filipino indigenous communities, requiring more empirical research on the various existing intra-conflict issues of the Filipino indigenous communities.
Objective and Methodology of the Study: The major objective of the study was to identify the principle reasons for the collective demands of the Filipino indigenous communities related to the Community Peace Recovery and Reconciliation (CPRR) model, implemented to integrate community driven human security into the community system. The research was based on library and field work. Comprehensive library research has been conducted to accumulate all relevant research information. In addition, the PCA (Participatory Conflict Analysis) approach has been adopted from the CPRR model to investigate the conflict level of Filipino indigenous communities. In the field research, the PCA approach consisted of the following six tools and purposes:
Major findings of the study: Field research has been conducted in the following two communities: a) Fidelisan; b) Tanulong. Barangay Fidelisan is one of the 19 barangays of Sagada. Together with the five barangays of Aguid, Pide, Bangaan, Tanulong and Madongo, barangay Fidelisan is located at the northern part of the municipality and referred to as northern barangays. The barangay has a total population of 444, composed of 229 males and 215 females. Tanulong, the second research community, is one of the 19 municipalities of Sagada. It is located in the northern part of Sagada. The total population of barangay Tanulong is 430, composed of 218 males and 212 females. Human security is not only related to different levels of violation or verbal confrontation, but rather it becomes vulnerable where a conflicting situation arises. The status of human security between the neighbour communities is a leading political driving force from grassroots levels to the national level. The table below shows the synthesis of empirical collected data of the existing major conflicts between the Fidelisan and Tanulong communities, which indirectly also indicates the moderate situation of human security in those two communities.
The degree of self-determination within indigenous communities like Fidelisan and Tanulong is very progressive towards the resolution of the conflicts that exist between them, which eventually leads the community people to entertain a high level of human security in their own way or the indigenous way. Even though the indigenous communities do not allow the outsiders to interfere in their own way of determining conflicting disputes or resolutions, the potentiality of the CPRR Model for the resolution of various conflicts among or between the Filipino indigenous communities is apparently productive and appropriate under the following unavoidable conditions: a) either the reconciliatory party must be from within the communities, or the reconciliatory party must act according to the intervention of the municipal authority. Particularly in the case of Fidelisan and Tanulong, the following criteria must be met in order to fulfill the above mentioned condition: a) both are neighbor communities with long-standing conflicts; b) both communities are affected by conflicts generated by their social and development needs; c) there is an invisible existence of the code of conduct within the community, but not between the communities; and d) the consequences of the mining conflicts, which have been seriously affecting the lower mountain communities since 1986, apparently are causing the lower community to think about migration or, in an extreme case, evacuation.
Consequently, the current situation requires having a permanent dispute settlement. More precisely, one of the most important facts is that the initiatives of the elders’ council of each community did not bring about a fruitful permanent solution between these two communities over the last 25 years. As a result, the intervention of the CPRR model by the municipal authority might bring positive changes within these communities for their greatest benefit.
Conclusion: The non-conflictive situation triggers a lesser human security need arising from minimal fear of being harmed or attacked. However, it is also universally true that there is no existence of a society without conflicting situations. Although it is unavoidable that the conflicting situation in the community must be survived or lived, the proper way of dealing with conflicts must follow whichever way that fits within a framework of a long-lasting settlement of disputes by transformation, prevention or reconciliation. In the case of Filipino indigenous communities, the people of those communities generally do not welcome outsiders as reconciliatory parties to create an equally-beneficial environment for negotiating between them and re-establishing peace and social infrastructure for the mutual code of conduct. Therefore, it seems very unfortunate and difficult to resolve the existing conflicts between these communities. However, Filipino indigenous communities, interestingly, do welcome the reconciliatory parties either from within the communities or the municipal authority. Consequently, the demand for the settlement of long-lasting conflict fulfils the requirements of the CPRR model under the intervention of a party either from among the members of those particular communities or the municipal authority to whom the legitimacy of those communities belong.
Mizanur Rahman is an Asia Leaders Fellow currently pursuing a masters degree in Environmental Security and Peace at the UN-mandated University for Peace.