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Mediation in Urban Poor Communities

MedNet conducted an e-Learning session on Mediation in Urban Poor Communities. The featured resource speakers were Mr. Percival C. Chavez, Chairman Emeritus of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP); Ms. Madeline A. Suarez, President of the Alliance of People’s Organization Along Manggahan Floodway (APO-AMF); and Mr. Benjamin II L. Custodio, Program Manager of Alay Kapwa Community Schooling, in partnership with the Diocese of Novaliches.

Mediation in Urban Poor Communities

They shared their experiences in urban poor communities and discussed how various issues were resolved

The Role of the Diocese of Novaliches in Urban Poor Communities

Benjamin II L. Custodio

Mr. Custodio explained that the Diocese of Novaliches provides pastoral care and spiritual guidance to the faithful within its jurisdiction, with a focus on promoting social justice and charitable works. Several barangays under their jurisdiction would be affected by the NLEX 8.2 project. As part of their initiative, they aimed to identify the number of affected families as a baseline. Following their September roundtable discussion, they identified 18,160 affected families. They stressed the importance of gathering accurate information to avoid miscommunication and misinterpretation within the community. Furthermore, they sought to determine the basis for the project’s budget allocation.

To address misinformation and discrepancies in data interpretation among target communities, the Diocese initiated community consultations and identified eight parishes affected by the project. They realized the need to establish a bridge between the NLEX project and the community. This process, called the “Diocesan NLEX Special Program,” began in 2018, with a two-fold strategy involving engagement with government and project implementers. Additionally, the Diocese focused on community formation, organization, and mobilization.

Mr. Custodio highlighted the significance of their partnership with MedNet, emphasizing the need to enhance their mediation skills. They identified various types of conflicts, including data issues, source conflicts, relationship problems, differences in values, structural challenges, and differences in interests. The Diocese’s response involved ongoing dialogue with organizations like LIAC and continued involvement with decision-makers to ensure accurate information dissemination and community awareness about the NLEX project.

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

Madeline A. Suarez

Ms. Suarez described APO-AMF, a coalition of 10 local People’s Organizations in Barangay Manggahan, Pasig City. Formed after Typhoon Ondoy’s devastating impact in 2009, the organization’s members faced threats of eviction and off-city relocations. APO-AMF initiated the People’s Plan process to ensure proper housing security. This process includes social preparation, community vision development, land research, and housing design options. These components are particularly challenging, as they require informed community members, thorough land research, and sustainable state management for housing options. Workshops, orientation, and community consultations were utilized to provide housing options effectively.

Ms. Suarez stressed the importance of a government receptive to community plans and their ongoing efforts to accommodate 900 families. They encountered conflicts both internally and with neighboring communities. Mediation skills played a critical role in resolving these conflicts. APO-AMF used the Building Leaders approach, established a Peace and Order Committee, employed a Grievance Form to address conflicts, and published a Policy Manual as part of their organizing and mediation process.

In terms of advocacy, APO-AMF focused on the People’s Plan, advocating for legislative bills in the House of Representatives, Rights of Nature, and civil society organization (CSO) participation. Ms. Suarez highlighted the importance of platforms like the e-Learning Forum to advocate and raise awareness about their work. She also shared the challenges they faced, including transitions in government administration, policy changes, poverty, internal governance issues, implementing established policies, up-scaling small initiatives, and conflicting interests between informal settlers and the government.

Ms. Suarez concluded by emphasizing the importance of mediation in their work and called on the government to recognize the skills of the community and invest in their capacity for innovation. She hoped for a change in how both private individuals and the government perceive their role in community vision, land research, and housing design options.

Mediation in Urban Poor Communities

Percival Chavez

Mr. Chavez connected mediation to his experiences as an NGO worker and public servant, sharing successful projects that addressed the needs and problems of communities. He emphasized the role of the government in land cases, negotiation, legal documents, and demolitions, stressing the importance of understanding the law to effectively negotiate with communities while always considering the rights of the poor.

Mr. Chavez delved into the mediation framework, including modality and context. He highlighted the importance of formal processes and the mediator’s role in facilitating negotiations without a written contract. Neutrality and independence were key traits for mediators, along with understanding the urban poor community’s perspective.

Common issues and sentiments within the community were discussed, emphasizing the need to empower the urban poor in negotiations and problem-solving through training seminars. Mr. Chavez stressed the importance of sharing similar case successes and challenges, engaging the community, and using instruments like Mandatory Consultation, Certificate of Clearance, Pre-demolition Conference, People’s Plan, and People’s Participation to facilitate mediation more efficiently.

Mr. Chavez expressed hope in working together to solve problems, emphasizing the importance of fulfilling agreements and maintaining a creative and open approach. He underscored the unity of vision and the shared goal of bettering the community.

Overall, the speakers highlighted the importance of mediation in addressing the complex challenges faced by urban poor communities and emphasized the role of their respective organizations in this process.

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