Mindanao leaders tackle role of faith in peacebuilding at “Do no harm” workshop

Franklin Duane Madriñan

Ateneo de Manila University

The core research team in Sri Lanka. From left to right: Prof Jayeel Cornelio, Prof emer. Kaling Tudor Silva, Dr Jennifer Philippa Eggert, Dr Kathryn Kraft, Prof Emma Tomalin, Dr Theo Mbazumutima

This blog post is part of a series by the Hidden Peacebuilders Network, a global collaboration of researchers, practitioners and faith actors from around the world, who jointly produce and disseminate research on local faith actors and peacebuilding. 

Twenty-eight local peacebuilders across the Philippines took part in the Do No Harm for Faith Groups Workshop held in Cagayan de Oro City from 19 to 20 October 2023. 

In partnership with World Vision Philippines, the Ateneo Development Studies (DS) Program convened a multi-generational and multi-faith group of local faith actors for a series of activities that aim to elevate the impact of their community peacebuilding work using the Do No Harm framework.

“Do No Harm” (DNH) – or what is also known as Local Capacities for Peace (LCP) – is a conflict sensitivity tool for stakeholders to identify beliefs and practices that enhance the quality of relationships in diverse communities. Oliver Apud and Makpil Aponesto of World Vision Philippines co-facilitated the sessions.

Among the participants were members and leaders of various Christian and Muslim groups in Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga, and the National Capital Region. Ako Bakwit, Arnold Janssen Catholic Mission Foundation, Inc, Group of Women Advocates for Peace in the Archipelago (GWAPA), and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) were among the groups represented in the two-day activity. Teachers of Islamic Studies and Arabic Language from Marawi City and Cotabato City also participated.

“Religion plays a vital role towards attaining peace… walang kapayapaan kung hindi nagkakaintindihan ang bawat tao na may iba’t ibang paniniwala (there is no peace when there is no understanding between and among people of different faith groups),” participant Nazh-Far Berganio, Founder and President of Ako Bakwit said. “We coexist because we want [peace],” he emphasized.

Reflecting on how the tool can be applied concretely, Venjohn Nuñez, president of the board of directors of ILAW Shared Community, Inc [a civil society organization in Iligan City] shared that “hindi pala pwedeng bitawan ang [aming activities on] policy advocacy and legislative agenda dahil pwede [kaming] maging connector. [Pwede kaming] marinig ng LGU to create a city ordinance on peacebuilding na sensitive in making and keeping peace (We should not terminate our activities on policy advocacy and legislative agenda because, through this, we can be connectors. We can be heard by the LGU [local government units] in creating a city ordinance on peacebuilding that is sensitive to making and keeping peace). “

“The impact of Do No Harm is life transformation. [It is] the transformation of one’s heart,” Prof Jayeel Cornelio, professor in the DS Program and academic lead for the Philippines, emphasized during his closing remarks. Highlighting the important role of faith in community work, Cornelio challenged, “para saan pang may paniniwala tayo kung hindi naman tayo nakikipag-kapwa tao (What is the point of our faith if we do not use it to build genuine human connections)?”

The workshop’s conclusion marked the beginning of a ten-month documentation of the participants’ community programs, part of a three-country action research project about faith actors and peacebuilding. The project is funded by The British Academy under the Knowledge Frontiers scheme. Together with Ateneo de Manila University in this study are the University of Leeds (United Kingdom), the University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka), Rema Burundi (Burundi), World Vision Lanka, World Vision Burundi, World Vision Philippines, and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities.

This blog post was first published on the website of the Ateneo University and has been reprinted here with permission.


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