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Bridges Café:


Tampakan residents call for transparency in settling mining disputes

Residents affected by the proposed operations of the controversial US$5.9-billion (roughly Php297-billion) mining project in Tampakan, South Cotabato has called for the release of all vital documents and open discussions connected to the mine in an online learning forum organized by the Mediators' Network for Sustainable Peace (MedNet) and the Partnership Mission for Peoples Initiatives Inc. (PMPI) held 21 January 2021.


The request was made directly to Dir. Michael Mamukid of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Region 12 office and his staff who attended the forum. NCIP committed to provide Tampakan stakeholders, through the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, with the relevant documents within a month.

Marbel Bishop Cerilo Alan Uy Casicas supported the petitioners in requesting for the documents and enjoined everyone to continue the dialogue to help resolve the issues in a peaceful manner.

The documents being requested concerned the Certification Precondition (CP) given to the Saggitarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) the reports on the activities on the conduct of the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process, the Field-Based Investigation (FBI) reports conducted from 2008-2016, and results of all community and area-based surveys conducted, among others.


Taytay flood victims seek more gov’t, NGO aid

Barangay officers and flood victims in Brgy. San Juan, Taytay, Rizal seeks more aid from government and civil society organizations as they continue to rebuild their community in a forum sponsored by the Mediators Network for Sustainable Peace on December 11, 2020.

Brgy. San Juan is the biggest barangay in Taytay. It has 103,000 residents and is 1,500 hectares big, said Alfredo Francisco, San Juan barangay secretary. Together with other areas around Metro Manila, it suffered severe flooding after the onslaught of Typhoon Rolly (international name: Goni) in early November 2020.

Taytay is in the downstream part of the eastern corridor of Metro Manila-Rizal area. Its topography is so low that water run-off from Antipolo and other areas in Rizal province, and backflow from Pasig River and the Manggahan Floodway gets concentrated during heavy rains and storms.

According to Adelqueen Asis, representative of the Damayan Homeowners Association in Brgy. San Juan, sectors most severely affected by the typhoon are the small business, fisherfolk and small farmers. On top of income lack due to the pandemic, these sectors are also struggling to enjoy tenure in the areas where they now live. Taytay is also a relocation area for many of Metro Manila’s urban poor.

OADR Urges stronger Gov’t-Private Partnership to settle disputes, build peace

Committed to providing all avenues for speedy resolution of legal cases, the Philippine government is urging stronger cooperation between public and private sectors to settle disputes and build peace. Thus spoke Atty. Ma. Christina Abalos-Naig, a director of  the Office for Alternative Dispute Resolution (OADR), an attached agency under the Department of Justice established under Republic Act No. 9285, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004.

OADR is mandated to promote, develop and expand the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in the private and public sectors; assist the government to monitor, study and evaluate the use by the public and the private sectors of ADR, and; recommend to Congress needed changes to develop, strengthen and improve ADR practices in the country and make them at par with international standards.

Atty. Naig was guest during the online Bridges forum of the Mediators’ Network for Sustainable Peace, held 11 November 2020. She said OADR is aware that many civil society organizations (CSOs) are practicing ADR, and thus should apply for OADR accreditation so they could access trainings and other services by government and standardize their procedures.

Social innovator: Explore higher self,
alternatives amid COVID-19

A winner of the so-called alternative Nobel Prize, the Alternative Livelihood Award,  Nicanor P. Perlas, calls for a fusion of ‘spiritual-scientific response’ to the challenges posed by COVID-19, and asserts that with a focus on one’s “life mission,” one can hurdle the challenges posed by COVID-19, like other critical issues faced by humanity over the centuries.


Perlas expressed these ideas in a back-to-the-basics elearning forum sponsored by the Mediators’ Network for Sustainable Peace (MedNet) and the Davao-based Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) for civil society and government organizations last October 20.


Together with others held before it, the forum was organized to bring together community-based, civil society and government partners to a discussion on how best to manage the challenges posed by COVID-19. Mednet held its first learning forum in May 2020.


Perlas said many scientists all over the world now question many restrictive practices, especially lockdowns, being imposed to stem the tide of COVID-19, noting that 85 percent of those who died from the disease were those who wore masks.

DSWD assures resolution of SAP distribution issues

Social Welfare Undersecretary Camilo Gudmalin assured the public of the government's desire to resolve all issues regarding the distribution of funds for the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), an emergency assistance measure, being implemented by the government under RA 11469, the Bayanihan to Heal as One law.

Undersecretary Gudmalin made the assurance during MedNet’s second Bridges session on 29 September 2020 where he was the main guest, as he urged the people to remain vigilant in asserting their right to government assistance.

Under RA 11469, the government has allotted about Php206 billion for poor beneficiaries that include displaced workers and other sectors. The bulk of the beneficiaries are households that are not enrolled in the 4Ps or conditional cash transfer program. The SAP is being implemented in two phases.

The first SAP tranche, which has a budget of about Php206 billion, is now  more than 99 percent complete, while the distribution of the second tranche has already started in June. The Duterte government has assured that the distribution of aid would continue even after the expiration of RA 11469.

Jeepney, tricycle drivers call for relief from pandemic

Representatives of jeepney and tricycle drivers called on government to provide jeepney and tricycle drivers relief from the pandemic through cash-for-work and livelihood grants and a moratorium on payments being made for modern electric jeepney units ordered by jeepney operators.

These were the suggestions they raised in an e-learning forum held 18 September 2020, as organized by the Mediators’ Network for Sustainable Peace, Inc.

Edison ‘Bong’ Nebrija, operations manager of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) that oversees Metro Manila traffic, promised to bring their demands to higher authorities.

Modesto Floranda, national president of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) said that the pandemic had worsened the transport workers’ hardships. Some 200,000 jeepney drivers and operators are affected by the pandemic Including workers in the ancillary and support industries that live off the earnings from the sector. They total 2.4 million Filipinos, said Floranda.

He added many transport workers did not even receive the promised relief assistance from the government.