Re-Unidos who committed to cooperate in the task of Rehabilitation and healing of the communities in the City that had been working on a special project named RE-UNIDOS SOCIAL COHESION FOR PEACE PROJECT since October last year. Part of this project is the Implementation of Psycho-Social Healing of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who were the direct victims of the 2013 September Standoff that are now in four (4) different transitory sites namely;

  1. Grandstand
  2. Tulungatung
  3. Mampang
  4. Upper Calarian (PTSI).

On January 29 and 30, more than 120 Internally Displaced Persons (composed of families), that were from the two transitory sites in Tulungatung and Mampang 2 respectively participated in the -Social Healing Session conducted by Re-Unidos community members.

The main purpose of this session is to know firsthand from the IDPs how were they doing as IDPs, how are they with their new environment, what are their stories before and after, by simply utter the word “Kumusta ka?’. One of the Facilitators, AL- Rashid Jama said that, “Through this question, we allow them to express themselves”. Different sites, different stories, but majority of the participants has the same concerns on their current situation in the transitory sites have transpired.

The participants who were identified with the help of the CSWDO staffs in Tulungatung and the Integrated Resource and Development for Tri-People (IRDT) in Mampang 2 who also provided the venue for the healing activities were cooperative and were grateful that they were able to voice out their sentiments and currents situation in their respective sites. “Thank you ZABIDA and all the facilitators for coming here, at least, we were able to express how we feel, and maybe you can help us reach out to concerned National agencies/ persons about our situation,” One of the participants from Mampang Transitory site, Liling Jailani said in vernacular.

These activities were the continuance of the Psycho-Social Healing activity held in Grandstand on November last Year, and the same activity will be held on February 3, to accommodate IDPs from the PTSI Transitory Site in Upper Calarian.

Active members of Re-Unidos coming from different Institutions such as the Philippine National Red Cross, Barangay local Government Units, Academe, and other Non government organizations like the Integrated Resource for Development for Tri-People, and youths have volunteered to be facilitators and documenters in the conduct of the healing session with the IDPs through the “Art of Hosting”.

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ZABIDA Completes Training Program on Barangay Good Governance

The last batch of 50 barangay leaders who trained in community good governance has completed the final 2-day session today, January 22. They belong to picturesque Barangay Pasonanca, and they form the 20th barangay-based group to have undergone the program provided by the Zamboanga-Basilan Development Alliance, Inc. (ZABIDA).

Through the program, ZABIDA aims to partner with selected city barangays to improve the living and security conditions of their respective residents. Local leaders are oriented in the elements of good governance, taught how to gather and process baseline data, conducted social-economic analysis, and then developed a five-year barangay development.

The local non-government organization works closely with the Department of Interior and Local, city government and concerned barangay councils and sectoral groups. A major plank of the program is women empowerment, by which an equitable number of women are enrolled in the preparation and implementation of their community’s development roadmap.

Pasonanca’s leaders on Thursday and Friday this week first assessed their baseline data using methodology the program had taught them. On the second day, they conducted a final situational analysis and completed their barangay development plan. The plan has three components each of which a group was assigned to work on. The components are poverty alleviation or socio-economic development, peace and security, and good governance/administrative development. The host barangay provided a counterpart of snacks, transportation and venue to the participants.

ZABIDA is headed by Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF; the good governance program is one of several the consortium implements in the city and Basilan to promote comprehensive human security and communal peace. Efforts cover environmental preservation and disaster risk management, sustainable agriculture, housing, delivery of social services, security and policing, interreligious dialogue, youth welfare, livelihood assistance, etc. The program is funded by the Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion Internacional para Desarollo, which is Spain’s international development assistance agency.

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ROOF conducted Data Presentation and Validation

On Wednesday, January 21, A Project Research managed by Reach Out to Others Foundation, Inc., entitled “Measuring Health Vulnerability, Enhancing Resilience and Adaptation to Climate among At-risk to Communities of Zamboanga City and Basilan,” was presented by Lead Researcher, Liezl de-Sosa Camacho for presentation and validation to the invited participants, majority came from selected Barangay local government units from Zamboanga City and Basilan, including Barangay Health Workers at a newly operated hotel in the city.

According to Ms. Camacho, the presentation has three (3) major objectives; first, is to develop a conceptual framework and measurement instrument for determining “vulnerability and resiliency” factors associated with health and disease; second, to apply the above cited measurement tool in assessing the vulnerability status of selected deprived communities; and third, is to determine community resiliency in examining their own natural strategies for adaptation to climate change.

“This research invites us to explore more and share existing knowledge with the communities,” Ms. Camacho urged the participants.

ROOF President, Dr. Grace J. Rebollos said that this is a validation meeting; it is the first step to confirm to BLGUs about the research that has been done. “We want to get back into the Barangays to see what we can do to put things together with the native knowledge that has been inputted during the surveys,” Dr. Rebollos said.

Brgy. Capt. Joselito Macrohon and Kag. Phyllis Granada, (BLGU-Recodo) were among the few BLGU officials who shared some of the factors, which led to diseases/ illnesses in their respective Barangays.

Dr. Rebollos said that this is a good way that we have this kind of meeting; “the participants were able to validate or disagree to the survey results,” she added.

Also among who attended the meeting were from the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), ZABIDA, Katilingban sa Kalambuan Inc. (KKI), and Nagdilaab Foundation, Inc. (NFI).

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The Pope as Savior

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) lost no time in making capital of Pope Francis’ virtual endorsement of government’s current efforts to establish a new Bangsamoro political order in Mindanao.

In his brief message during his courtesy call on Pres. Aquino in Malacanang last January 16, the Pope said: “In a particular way, I express my trust that the progress made in bringing peace to the south of the country will result in just solutions in accord with the nation’s founding principles and respectful of the inalienable rights of all, including the indigenous peoples and religious minorities”. Additionally, before he took off from Rome for his pastoral visit to the Philippines via Sri Lanka, he also noted “with pleasure that last March an agreement was signed to end long years of tension in the Philippines,” referring obviously to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) deal. The accord serves as the framework and terms of reference for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) bill – certified as urgent by the Chief Executive – which is now being deliberated on by Congress.

Peace Secretary Teresita Deles called those remarks as the Pope’s “blessing” to the peace deal. She emphasized that “we receive the papal message as a clarion call to all persons of good will to work even harder, collectively harnessing the power of hope and perseverance, to overcome all obstacles and push national consensus towards a just and peaceful settlement of the armed conflict that has divided our people for too long.” In so saying, she observed that the BBL would continue to encounter challenges. Even principal protagonist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in its recent statements has all resigned itself to the likelihood of some such challenge on constitutional questions before the Supreme Court.

Hence, the Pope’s not so insignificant praise and support for the peace process may yet dampen considerably the intensity of those feared challenges. His “blessing” may all be the needed tipping point, the little miracle, to turn the BBL into a concrete, working reality by 2016.

If Francis’ positive words will indeed bring about such a result, it will be a vindication of his exhortations, often made loudly, for interreligious dialogue and action as a way to social peace and justice as well. (Towards the end the talks in Kuala Lumpur became more of collaboration rather than negotiation.) Local interreligious advocates can make the same claim, for these have worked long and hard often in the face of opposition to make inter-communal, spiritually-guided encounters as a way to peace-building.

Hopefully, the CAB-BBL will not be the only beneficiary of the Pope’s growing influence in world and human affairs and mass popularity. The record-breaking turnout of Filipinos to attend the various activities in his 5-day visit, the dramatic assemblies and earth-shaking dialogues and the words of wisdom he sowed and to each of which people clang, are reflections of the requited love between host and guest. It is love inflamed by the Christian faith, motivated by the equal hopes for salvation in both afterlife and this. In his own prophetic words the Pope came because he sees the great sufferings of his Filipino flock, and to us he came to save us from our wars, poverties, injustices and all of those other deadly sins and evils.

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