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A fresh start to peace in Philippines' troubled south
ENGAGING KEY STAKEHOLDERS: The security sector should be involved in Mindanao-wide strategic development
WITH efforts to pursue peace and security in the troubled Mindanao region failing to achieve the desired results, it is heartening to note the recent formation of a Mindanao Peace and Development Security Committee (MPDSC).
Set up under the auspices of the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), it will deal with consolidating Mindanao-wide issues and concerns that impact on peace and development security.
The establishment of MPDSC was the culmination of a series of consultations and coordination by Minda with the Department of Interior and Local Government and regional offices in Mindanao, the Balay Mindanao Foundation, the Philippines Armed Forces Unified Area Commands in Mindanao as well as the Philippines National Police Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Mindanao.
Chairing the MPDSC Organisational and First Principal's Meeting in Davao recently, Minda chairperson Luwalhati Antonino had remarked that every available opportunity should be taken to engage all key stakeholders in the discussion of issues and in the pursuit of lasting peace and accelerated development for Mindanao.
"This is a major endeavour to link development with peace and security so that we would be able to promote greater stability all across Mindanao, as a precursor to spurring more economic activities," Antonino told the gathering of provincial governors and regional representatives from the security sector.
It has to be pointed out that for years the security situation in Mindanao has not been comprehensively dealt with as a cross-regional and island-wide issue. It is high time for a coordinated mechanism to actively engage the security sector in the island's overall strategic development direction.
Efforts to address peace and security in Mindanao have always been targeted at certain elements. Perhaps, it would be better to integrate these efforts with the far greater realities of Mindanao and strike at the core of the problem.
Such a move would certainly receive the support of the private sector who also want to see recurring issues of peace and security in Mindanao being addressed in an island-wide fashion.
It is learnt that once operational, the Minda-supported MPDSC will serve as a Mindanao-wide coordinating, advisory and information-sharing and advocacy group that will also focus on consolidating issues and concerns relative to peace and development security, beyond regional boundaries and jurisdictions.
The committee's immediate task will involve facilitating the integration of relevant policies, particularly those that impact directly on Mindanao peace and development security to ensure better collaboration among concerned agencies.
"There are a lot of things that this committee can do besides addressing security. Mindanao needs more than just the absence of conflict. We need to have a base to attain peace development," Antonino had said.
Livelihood and education for the communities are two of the components that should be given priority as potential base for development.
It was reported that some of the initial advocacy of MPDSC includes peace education in all levels and mainstreaming of conflict sensitive planning and programming.
With its wide-ranging membership that includes chief executives of local governments, chairpersons of the regional peace and order councils, security sector, private sector, civil societies, non-governmental organisations and representatives of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, the MPDSC should be able to come up with practical and acceptable peace and development initiatives.
What is needed is a mechanism anchored and responsive to the peace and security imperatives identified in Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework which aims to adopt a holistic human security policy that includes, among other things, building and sustaining of peace constituencies among citizens.