Feature: Trust in village leaders, key to peace
by Russtum G. Pelima
Lake Sebu, South Cotabato (March 5) -- Barangay leaders from Sarangani province's 42 peace and development communities (PDCs) have affirmed that regaining their constituents' trust is key towards peaceful communities.
"This is most apt in dominantly Muslim villages where there is a presence of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)," said Bagis Manap, barangay kagawad of Sapu Masla, Malapatan.
Manap, speaking at the end of a four-day PDC seminar over the weekend, recounted how he had gone to the Muslim and lumad leaders in the barangay to discuss their gripes.
He told the Muslim and lumad leaders that they can always cooperate with the government.
"They must trust us," Manap said. "We must be the negotiator for conflicts that may arise in our community."
Jocelyn Lambac-Kanda, Kalinaw Sarangani Unit (KSU) project manager, echoed Manap's call saying that the locals "must believe us first to make our peace building effort more successful."
KSU realizes the significant role of barangay captains in mobilizing the communities to cooperate and promote peace being their elected officials.
"We need the community to work with us through their barangay leaders," Kanda said.
For his part, kagawad Sammy Pangolima of barangay Daliao said, "I think we have to really communicate with them (MILF) and we must not be afraid."
Daliao is a coastal barangay in Maasim town where some Moro rebels docked and launched an attack in Maasim poblacion last August.
KSU has been conducting Culture of Peace (COP) trainings to the provincial youth sector, women, religious groups, teachers, the police and the military, in partnership with United Nations Development Programme-Act for Peace.
Resource speaker Emmanuel Amancio, peace officer of the Catholic Relief Services, said barangay leaders appreciated the COP having institutionalized the peace building effort of the province.
"I saw the passion of the provincial leadership by mainstreaming the culture of peace, not just as a project," Amancio said.
"I believe that development must go hand in hand with peace building," Amancio said.
"Conflict is a natural phenomenon but it must not necessarily resort to violence. Peace is a change we want to see in ourselves, live it, apply it to our family and to our community which becomes our concrete contribution to the local government unit," Amancio added. (Sarangani IO/PIA XI) [top]