Lidasan: A few days break from work

AFTER attending a series of Public Hearings and Consultations of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the Proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law in the different provinces, cities, and municipalities in Mindanao, I had an opportunity to take a short time off to attend series of meetings in Berlin, Germany last February 19-20, 2018. The meeting pertains to the move of the civil society organizations in Germany in addressing the global threat and problems on violent extremism.

The meeting was organized by ForumZFD and the Misereor. To give a brief background of these two organizations, let me start me ForumZFD. Forum Civil Peace Service was established in 1996 in Germany as a non-partisan, non-profit organization. Their vision is a world society that will solve their conflicts without violence. They strive for a culture of nonviolence, where conflicts will be dealt with constructively with the goal of ensuring a sustainable and just peace. (http://www.forumzfd.org)

Misereor is the German Catholic Bishops' Organisation for Development Cooperation. For over 50 years, Misereor has been committed to fighting poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Misereor's support is available to any human being in need - regardless of their religion, ethnicity or gender. (https://www.misereor.org)

I was invited in the meeting as a resource persons in order to lobby with the German Parliament to support civilian approaches to peace building and conflict transformation. I represented the Philippine experience. Another speaker from Iraq was also invited. His name is Archimandit Emanuel Youkhana, Director and Founder of CAPNI (Christian Aid Project North Iraq). The meeting was productive because it gave two different situations and learning experiences from two countries.

The Concept Note of the meetings mentioned, the "UNDP report shows, individual or group experience of bad governance as well as severe elements and indicators of fragility in many states and are major reasons to attract in particular young people to extremist ideas and ideologies. A striking 71 percent of recruits pointed to "government action", including the killing or arrest of a family member or friend, as the incident or "tipping point" that prompted them to join a terrorist or extremist group. State security-actor conduct is revealed as a prominent accelerator of recruitment, rather than the reverse. Interestingly, the report also points out that albeit 51 % of interviewed recruits selected "religion" as a reason for joining a terrorist or extremist group, as many as 57 percent of the respondents also admitted that they had only limited or no understanding of religious texts. Such findings certainly challenge rising Islamophobic rhetoric that has intensified in response to violent extremism globally."

The output of the meetings gave three important points to the participants coming from diverse backgrounds with an interest in foreign and security policy and in peace building and conflict transformation:

Military approach in addressing violent extremism is not enough. We need an holistic approach that requires cooperation and support of the different sectors in our society. Academe and CSOs are needed to prevent the spread of violent extremists ideologies on the ground;

Religious leaders from Islam and Christianity must also be involved not only to give fatwas against violent extremists, but they must also be part of providing sound policy frameworks for sustainable human development;

Focusing on the youth is also needed. The youth must be actively involved in helping our communities against violent extremism.

These points can also be applied in our local context.

At some point, it was a short break for me. But it was still a "work" in line with my advocacies. I arrived Manila last week. Stayed few hours in the airport and then flew to Zamboanga then a few hours boat ride to Luuk, Sulu.

Looking at my schedules this year for the BTC and Al Qalam Institute, I guess a long family vacation may materialise not this year but most probably next year. I am happy that my family understands my line of work. My work is not only for our personal interests but for the welfare of our nation.
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