The Regional Peace and Order Council has identified Peace Building and Development Needs with all Provinces and crafted a Road to Peace for Caraga. In the Province of Surigao del Norte nine municipalities address the Peace Building and Development Needs in their Annual Investments Program. Their Implementation especially in conflict affected areas will be monitored through joint efforts to the Provincial Peace and Order Council and the Provincial Development Council.
“Peace and development are not separable from the concept of local governance. It should be the focus when total development is the offshoot of excellence in local governance. It is important to mainstream the PBDNs (Peace Building and Development Needs) in coming up with PPAs (Programs, Projects and Activities) so that total development can be embraced by the people in the community”.
Hon. Cristina Arcillas
Tubod, Surigao del Norte
Reacting to the Needs on the Ground
Poverty, inequality and pursuing good governance remain to be challenges in the province of Surigao del Norte. The province had the second highest poverty incidence in Caraga Region in 2012. Limited economic opportunities, lack of access to social services, insufficient road networks and other infrastructure facilities, and environmental degradation are constraining the development of the province. These development concerns have been contributing factors in the breakdown of peace and order in the province.
In 2011, the burning of the Talaganito mining facilities in Claver, Surigao del Norte by insurgents drove the provincial government to respond to the peace and development concerns, and complement the national government’s efforts on peace building. The Provincial Government of Surigao del Norte pushed for the need to have a well-grounded peace agenda through an effective framework and sound strategies.
A provincial executive order created a technical working group (TWG) to draft the provincial peace agenda in January 2012. The executive order also explicitly requested technical assistance from the Conflict Sensitive Resource and Asset Management (COSERAM) Program supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the forumZFD (forum Civil Peace Service) to assist in the preparation of the peace agenda.
A series of consultation meetings were conducted with different stakeholders at various levels, and with various sectors from the government, business, private, and civil society groups by the TWG, COSERAM and forumZFD.
The TWG underwent a massive review of the province’s existing plans aided by different conflict sensitivity tools facilitated by COSERAM and forumZFD with various offices and agencies. An in-depth issue and institutional analysis was also undertaken resulting to proposed capacity building measures. The genealogy of the Provincial Development Framework (PPDF) from “agenda/plan to framework” was also one from collective thinking and processing.
Changing mindsets requires reflecting inward. Addressing the root causes of prolonged armed struggle necessitated a deeper understanding of the concepts of peace, violence and conflict, the social needs of health and education, and the inclusion of the Indigenous Peoples. Reflecting inward led to further assessing respective mandates as a government institution, private organization and civil society.
“We need to support the peace process in the province. Achieving the shift from peace and order perspective to a peace and development one is challenge. It is about changing mindsets”.
Hon. Theodoro M. Sinaca, Jr.
Malimono, Surigao del Norte
By utilizing the lens of conflict-sensitivity, conflict transformation and a rights-based approach, the root causes of peace and order problems were made visible and dealt with. In the process of crafting the peace agenda, a channel for dialogue opened up amongst the different stakeholders at the municipal and provincial levels. Individual literacy in dealing with peace and conflict as well as approaching problems beyond military solutions was intensely discussed.
By the end of 2012, the Provincial Peace and Development Framework (PPDF) enumerating the different Peace Building and Development Needs (PBDNs) was completed and was ready for cascading and use at the city and municipal levels.
To date, the transformation in establishing a framework has begun as development plans at the city and municipal level are aligned with the PBDNs of the province – utilizing tools that provide leeway in developing options that bring about relevant change when called for within the local context.
By 2014, at least nine municipal local government units have adjusted their Annual Investment Programs (AIPs) translated as priority Programs/Projects/Activities (PPAs) for 2015 and more importantly, all aligned with those PBDNs that are relevant to them.
Proof of the alignments of the PBDNs are now evidenced by the adjusted AIPs of at least nine municipalities, and the initiatives instituted by the provincial government in the municipalities of Alegria and Gigaquit are closely monitored by the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) as well as the Provincial Development Council (PDC). The provincial government, by addressing the needs of the people including the Indigenous Peoples, has gained ground in peace and development. The realization that neither peace nor development can be addressed isolated or separately but needs to be a combined effort that laid the foundation for these joint efforts. Development doesn’t automatically lead to peace, and peace cannot be fully established without development.
The application of the PBDN mainstreaming tools helped define the areas for improvements in LGUs’ respective local plans. For example, most municipalities throughout the whole province have realized that their old plans were blind about issues affecting indigenous peoples (IPs) who are typically marginalized when it comes to access to services etc., which in turn prompted them to make relevant adjustments thereon.
“This is an eye-opener. We look at the problem on insurgency in relation with peace and development. We are starting to think on what to do. We will work on how to establish a framework”.
Hon. Carlos Arturo M. Egay, Sr.
Reflecting on the Lessons Learned
This whole process provided an avenue for the different stakeholders to come together and inclusively reflect and work on the conflict issues. In turn, multi-sectoral peace building needs were identified and the linkage between development issues and peace building needs were made visible. This promoted a shift in understanding of peacebuilding as much more than just an issue of order and security.
Assessing the root-causes of insurgency led to the realization that military approaches are not necessarily the only solution to addressing peace and development problems. Other civilian and conflict-sensitive approaches need to be explored and employed by various stakeholders involved.
Effective and responsive local governance has to address the legitimate peace and development issues. But for being effective in addressing peace and conflict issues, the duty-bearers should be technically equipped and aided by tools, techniques and sound processes in order to apply such a Peace and Development Framework and its identified PBDNs in existing planning processes. The Province of Surigao del Norte is a good example of such a practical application.
The described efforts were only possible with an enabling environment and support by the leadership from the provincial down to the municipal/city level.