One of the most pressing and continued issues in the Philippines is the peace situation on the southern island of Mindanao. Conflicts between different religious and ethnic groups have existed there for decades. Mensen met een Missie is working on interfaith tolerance and peacebuilding on the island. Alongside our local partners, we build bridges to cross divides between the tri-peoples: the Muslims (Moro), the indigenous people (Lumad) and the Christian migrant majority.
Interfaith conflicts and human right violations
Years of conflict, self-interest, political games and fear have left deeply rooted distrust and prejudice between the tri-peoples of Mindanao. This mainly manifests itself along religious and ethnic identity lines. This distrust is evident all over the island, especially in areas where there have been more recent conflicts.
Over the years, many Christian migrants have settled on the island and problems have arisen over land and administrative power. At the same time, the local Moro population in Mindanao has fought with the Philippine government for greater autonomy for decades. In July 2018, the president signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which gave the Moro an autonomous region, the BARMM. After decades of conflict this was a historic moment.
The Lumads are often caught between conflicting parties and higher-level political interests. They tend to live on valuable land, from which they are often forcibly displaced without any legal basis. This marginalisation means that whatever peace there is in the future is an unjust peace when Lumads are excluded.
The Philippines has a vibrant and important civil society. Activists, local leaders, journalists and religious actors often speak out against injustice. However, this is becoming increasingly difficult. The Philippines ranks second, behind Colombia, on the list of most dangerous countries for human rights defenders. The state offers little protection to activists and the perpetrators can count on impunity.
One of the most pressing and continued issues in the Philippines is the peace situation on the southern island of Mindanao. Conflicts between different religious and ethnic groups have existed there for decades.
Together with our six local partners, we strengthen social relationships, tolerance and interfaith cooperation in local communities torn apart by distrust and conflict. We do this through:
Building bridges towards interfaith peace
In Mindanao, to further peace and counter prejudice towards other groups, we facilitate interaction and cooperation between different ethnic and religious groups. If contact between groups is properly facilitated, it can counteract stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination and improve intergroup relationships. Our partners create interfaith discussion groups, set up local peace committees and coordinate interfaith community-based activities such as organic farming. They also organise 3-day Culture of Peace workshops to build bridges between conflicting groups and train participants in becoming local peace facilitators.
Strengthening the resilience and confidence of the Lumads
As indigenous groups often live on resource-rich land, they face pressure from investors and local politicians. We provide legal training and professional legal support for Lumad communities to protect them from land grabbing. We organise campaigns for the rights of Lumads in the new autonomous region and record indigenous customs, culture and rituals.
Protecting human rights defenders
We organise Safety & Security training for our local partners, which they then provide to local communities and the community leaders they work with. The training entails maintaining physical safety, digital security and how you can ensure safety and security in your organisation. We help increase safety and security thinking in local communities that are under pressure from mining or large-scale development plans.
In Mindanao, to further peace and counter prejudice towards other groups, we facilitate interaction and cooperation between different ethnic and religious groups.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of this team of peace facilitators. I know what it’s like to stand up for others and not just myself. I have found my voice and the refugees have found their voice at the same time.”– Zhen, 22
Together with our local partners, Mensen met een Missie has managed to:
- Provide Culture of Peace Workshops to 90 people in three Barangays (municipalities).
- Raise awareness and resilience in schools and communities against religious extremism.
- Organise interfaith women’s groups, youth activities and forums with religious leaders.
- Directly reach and positively affect 17,775 people with our programmes, consisting of 6,880 women, 559 Lumads and 470 religious leaders
Mensen met een missie
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Country Overview World Ranking
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106 out of 189