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Inclusivity, empowerment, and impartiality principles:

Highlights of the e-Learning Forum on Mediation in Urban Poor Communities

“When we solve the problem, we will both satisfy the needs and wants of both parties. More than what is written, we need to comply with what we agreed upon. That’s the golden cup.”


Mr. Percival C. Chavez, formerly with the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), stated during the Mediators Network for Sustainable Peace, Inc. (MedNet) e-Learning Forum, “Mediation in Urban Poor Communities”, which was attended by 57 participants held via Zoom and Facebook LIVE last April 25.


The second series of the e-Learning Forum showcased featured resource speakers from MedNet's partner communities— Mr. Percival C. Chavez, formerly with the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), Ms. Madeline A. Suarez, President of Alliance of People’s Organization Along Manggahan Floodway (APO-AMF) and Mr. Benjamin II L. Custodio, Program Manager of Alay Kapwa Community Schooling, and with the Diocese of Novaliches who shared their experiences in urban poor communities, the conflicts within and with external actors, and how these are resolved or not resolved at the level of the community.


How the Diocese of Novaliches works with the urban poor communities


Mr. Custodio explained that the goal of the Diocese is to ensure rapport with all families affected by the NLEX project and by also correcting misinformation about the project. He mentioned that they are applying the ABCs of Conflict (Antecedents, Behavior, and Consequence). The main response of the Diocese was to establish a bridge between the NLEX project and the community which started last 2018 to ensure that everyone is included in the process called “Diocesan NLEX Special Program”.


Mr. Custodio also emphasized the importance of the partnership with MedNet as they undergo training on the mediation process.


“So paano natin sya (preferential option for the poor) mapapalakas? It is by helping our community sa mga capacity building activities that can empower them to enhance their ability to participate in the decision making processes effectively.” Mr. Custodio stated on promoting collaborative dialogues, supporting initiatives, advocating for the inclusion and participation of all stakeholders in decision-making processes.


The role of the Alliance of People’s Organization Along Manggahan Floodway (APO-AMF) in the community


Ms. Suarez shared that APO-AMF uses People’s Plan Negotiation and Implementation with social preparation and Policy Manual Development. In social preparation, they prioritize community vision, land research, and housing design options.


Ms. Suarez shared that the partnership with MedNet helped them as there is a need to strengthen their mediation skills in different aspects of their work in the community. She emphasized that APO-AMF gives importance to platforms like the e-Learning Forum to advocate and increase the awareness of partners and communities about the work that they are doing.


“Meron tayong iba’t-ibang perspective as a mediator. I always try to put myself in the situation para maunawaan ko kung anong pinanggagalingan.” Ms. Suarez stated and closed her presentation by voicing out their call to the government to give confidence in the skills of the people in the group and upskill themselves for innovation. She hopes that they can change how private individuals and the government view them in handling responsibilities in community vision, land research, and housing design options.


Mediation in Urban Poor Communities


Mr. Chavez noted that it is important to be familiar with the law in order to negotiate with the community. He also mentioned that the rights of the poor are always considered in the process.


Mr. Chavez discussed the mediation framework which consists of modality and context. He stated that as a facilitator, both parties need to recognize the formal processes even without a written contract. As a mediator, one must be viewed by both parties to be neutral and independent and ensure to be on the same page with the urban poor community.


Mr. Chavez mentioned that there is a lot of hope as we are one in vision to solve the problem. “When we solve the problem, we will both satisfy the needs and wants of both parties. More than what is written, we need to comply with what we agreed upon. That’s the golden cup. It should be open, and very creative. The human face with the spirit of transcending our own limitations because we are united with a goal and a vision for our community.” Mr. Chavez added.


Mr. Chavez left with a challenge to identify what we are made of internally before entering a mediation process.


MedNet’s President of the Board of Trustees, Ms. Marides V. Gardiola, shared her takeaways from the e-Learning Forum which focused on the three principles of empowering dispute resolution management which MedNet is promoting through capacity-building activities and mentoring: inclusivity, empowerment, and impartiality.


The objective of MedNet’s e-Learning Forum series, apart from bringing people together, is to be a support system of each organization. MedNet’s Executive Director, Ms. Gemma Cunanan, mentioned that even though there are differences in perspective, in the end, there is one interest.


“Inclusion, empowerment and internal formation are components to strengthen and to be more effective in the work we are doing.” Ms. Cunanan added.#


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Watch the complete e-learning forum here.


Ma. Luisa Bautista is a development worker who specializes in advocacy campaigns and communications. She has experience in working on government and non-government settings, focused on the criminal law and child rights sector for almost 7 years. Currently, she is the Communications and Advocacy Officer of Mediators Network for Sustainable Peace.


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