Beyond Conflicts,

Toward Healing and Lasting Peace

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“Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them”

I chose the above quote from Emerson as I reflect on the stage where we are at organizationally as well as a people. We, as a network of mediators and as members of the Filipino nation, are faced with current realities, political and otherwise, that require a higher level of resolve, of strength of character, of bravery.

We have determined as a group to not merely be satisfied with crafting agreements, but to facilitate healing the emotional scars created by conflicts as well. This is a victory in itself, because it represents an expansion of our psychological comfort zones. However, this also marks the beginning of a new journey for the cause of peace. Such a higher level of commitment demands a greater amount of moral courage on our part- it takes brave souls to venture into the unknown path of facilitating inner healing and inner peace. Work on this area was previously relegated to the realm of psychology, the religious and ascetics.

But the collective readiness to embrace greater interdisciplinary cooperation, a recognition of the value of networking and partnership-building with a wider group of partners, and a

steadfastness of desire for more substantive aspects of peace building.

As a nation, we are faced with current realities that test our moral courage as well. We have seen the impunity with which power holders have blatantly violated basic tenets of human rights and human decency, most notably from the hails of Congress, the Presidency and the armed forces. Everyday we are witness to the obfuscation of truth, the disregard for human lives, and the unmasked desire for more political and economic power by the elite few. The backlash to the poor and the disempowered is gut-wrenching and chilling. Equally not sustainable, and certainly not fertile ground for sustainable peace. Such state of affairs demands brave souls to plod on and continue the work of peace.

This third issue of the The Mediator captures the organizational resolve to a greater commitment to peace. It looks at the process with which we went about collectively grappling with internal issues and succeeding triumphantly in coming up with collective statements on difficult questions on our identity, our ethics, and our on-the-ground practice. We looked at how empowering dispute resolution/management processes (EDRMP) relates to concepts such as gender and development, negotiation coaching, community organizing, healing and reconciliation, and rido. We also looked at what role EDRMP can play in the face of the Mining Act. These collective statements will be our beacon as we look at specific resource use conflicts on the ground that our members and staff have began to face. The articles on coastal resource management conflicts in Mercedes, Camarines Norte, the water use conflicts in Maasin, Iloilo, and the conflicts attendant to ancestral domain claims of the Bukidnon-Higaonon people in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon illustrate the breadth of our engagement on the ground. We draw inspiration from a sharing of thoughts and experience on peace building by a friend from Assisi Foundation, and we get feedback on our training activities from a partner-participant from Mercedes. We also look at a specific mediation practice from a non-member but fellow peace builder from a Muslim community in Mindanao.

I hope these articles succeed in embodying a collective spirit of greater resolve to community and societal peace. I hope this issue of The Mediator helps us reject apathy on national political realities and help each of us reaffirm our determination to pursue our collective vision for peaceful and just society.

Carry on, brave women and men mediators.

A MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

by: Rachel Aquino-Elogada