Myanmar CSO Leaders Visit UNYPAD CSWG Area in Pagalungan

By: Badroden Mamendig

COTABATO City (November 29, 2015)—Leaders of different Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from Kachin and Northern Shan States mostly working on humanitarian response visited the UNYPAD Community Security Working Group (CSWG) piloted community in barangay Layog, Pagalungan, Maguindanao on November 15, 2015.

The community visit was made possible through the joint effort of Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) and United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD).

Sumlut Gun Mai, one of the CSO leaders from the Kachin state, said that the objectives of their Mindanao exposure are 1) Learning of the GPH-MILF peace process and some of its infrastructures, 2) Role of International Nongovernment Organizations (INGOs) and local NGOs in humanitarian response during conflict, and 3) Visit to selected communities for actual sharing of best practices.

Barangay Local Government Units and newly formed CSWG officers headed by Hon. Akmad Mamasabulod welcomed the international guests and thanked them with candor for choosing their community.

“Our barangay was a host to many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) during the 2000 and 2003 wars between the MILF and government forces”, Mamasabolod said.

Asked about how they used to manage humanitarian supplies, he replied: “We are transparent, and we used to accompany donor agencies during the validation and distribution process to see to it that only legitimate beneficiaries will receive”.

Datuan Magon, UNYPAD Deputy – Secretary General, explained that after identifying Layog as pilot community, they have to present it to Conciliation Resources (C-R) who is heading the project dubbed as ‘Building peace in Mindanao through Public Participation in Governance’ for approval.

C-R is an INGO based in the United Kingdom (UK) and currently sitting as member of the International Contact Group of the GPH-MILF peace negotiations.

“We already organized the CSWG structure and crafted a 1-year plan of activities, Magon, also a General Coordinator of the Bangsamoro Security Network, added.

“CSWG should start while waiting for the BBL so that we would not be overloaded in the future and so that we could have a model community to show to the Bangsamoro at large specially during the transition period”, he revealed.

In his closing message, Gum Sha Aung stressed that their visit to the community is very historic.

“Lessons learned during the interactions will be narrated to their respective communities upon returning to Myanmar so that they could apply those ideas that are relevant in their context,” he said.

“We might be far from one another and separated by thousands of miles but the beat of hearts is the same because we are all working for peace”, he added.

“Although we have different contexts but we have the same spirit as brothers and sisters”, he stressed.

With a population of more than three thousand, residents of Layog have been very active in supporting the peace process.

The barangay is also a former beneficiary of an EU-funded project under the Mindanao Action for Peace and Development (MAPAD) Programme, implemented by Action Cotra el Hambre in partnership with the UNYPAD and Bangsamro Development Agency (BDA) from July 2007 to July 2010.

Among the CSWG activities conducted in the community by UNYPAD were FGD on common community security problems, presentation of FGD results and consultation on community policing, Training on Community security, planning and structuring of officers.