Last April 3-6, and April 10-11, I was in Roxas City to help facilitate a 3 two-day training workshops (three batches with around 20 participants per batch) on interest-based mediation for members of the Lupong Tagapamayapa of some barangays of the city. The training was organized by the Capiz Women Incorporated. In the training, I shared interest-based mediation approach, one of our empowering dispute resolution/management process (EDR/MP), as a systematic, creative and exhaustive process of helping disputants engage in a productive negotiation process through the facilitation of an impartial third-party. Systematic because the process is guided by a well-defined problem-solving framework and strategy; creative because we help the disputants search for solutions that will be mutually gainful and acceptable to them; and exhaustive because after using interest-based mediation, we the mediator(s) and disputants can already say that we have done our best efforts to make the negotiation or mediation process work. As in our other training workshops on mediation, the participants appreciated as indicated in their accomplished evaluation forms the tool. Hopefully, the training will help them affirm or enhance their mediation methods.
These training workshops were conducted at the height of the Mindanao problem (to this writing, the problem is still at its peak; but hopefully, with people’s prayers and solidarity in and for peace, the violence will subside in the coming weeks or days, and compassionate minds will take over. This, we pray). Understandably, in all of the three training workshops, a common question raised by the participants was: “Are you involved or have been requested to help in the Mindanao problem?” For sure, with this first issue of our newsletter, the same question can be raised by people who will learn about us the first time. In the training workshop, (and so with this first issue) the best way to answer the question, I thought, was (is) to introduce our network.
The history of MedNet is in the next pages. But for initial introduction and for emphasis, may I say that MedNet is a network of mediators and trainers of empowering dispute resolution/management processes (EDR/MP). Our main experiences are in agrarian, environmental and organizational disputes. Majority of us are trained in and are practicing interest-based mediation. We are, thus, united in the same framework for peace and peacemaking. And in this light, we all commit to mainstream EDR/MP as a non-violent and just methods for peacemaking. We are willing to help in other issues, such as the Mindanao peace issue. Nonetheless, in our view, the best people to help as mediators are those from Mindanao who have the best knowledge and familiarity with the issues, who speak the people’s language, know at heart their culture and their struggles, and are, of course, acceptable to all stakeholders of the conflict. We do have members from Mindanao. If in any case we will be asked to help in any non-violent way possible for peace and justice to come about we will give our best effort to help.
To my colleagues at MedNet, I understand the difficulties of pushing our cause at the midst of our other concerns and our own full-time work. In fact, in my own case, to write this piece for our newsletter, I still waited for my little boy to sleep. I also postponed an income-earning meeting for tomorrow to help assess the possibilities of mediation in a complicated land problem in Southern Tagalog. Not only I, but many of us are doing the same. This is our cause, our sacrifice, and our contribution for peace with justice.