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UNODC, partners amplify early warning, response in Pagayawan town

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA)--Generally aiming to foster lasting peace in Lanao del Sur province, especially in those areas drastically affected by armed conflicts, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), together with the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), intensified their campaigns for early warning and early response (EWER) and community service-oriented policing (CSOP).

The said organizations, through the "Strengthening Resilience to Violent Extremism in Asia (Strive Asia)" project, spearheaded a two-day pilot workshop attended by Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDDRMO) personnel from Pagayawan town.

The activity aimed to strengthen the promotion of CSOP and develop EWER procedures for community resilience and preventing and countering violent extremism (PCVE).

Accordingly, the organization conducted a series of consultation meetings with government counterparts, think tanks, and civil society representatives in the country in 2020 to examine violent extremism situations and their gaps and needs in relation to PCVE efforts.

Key stakeholders have frequently pointed out that community-based EWER is a necessary prerequisite for successfully addressing and resolving these disputes, including violent extremism that leads to terrorism, which has a history in the province.
Amongst this was the tragic firefight in Marawi City in 2017, wherein telltale signs were believed to exist before the eruption of violence but which people ignored and did not appropriately respond due to their complacency.

The UNODC added that, apart from the obvious previous indications, the mechanism for gathering and reporting early warning signs of emerging violence and deciding on a prompt and appropriate response was also not practiced in many communities.

It was due to this that the international group pursued the development and operationalization of standard operating procedures on EWER through its partnership with counterparts in the Bangsamoro region, including the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG), local law enforcement, civil society, and community members.

The UNODC expounded that the development of the EWER for PCVE is anchored in the CSOP framework, which is focused on attaining effective delivery of basic services through the promotion of peace and order, ensuring public safety, and strengthening local government capability.

It also emphasized that this initiative wished to establish a platform for meaningful and constructive dialogues between communities and law enforcement in the BARMM.

Taking into account that operationalizing an EWER might be challenging for some communities, the UNODC committed to guiding barangay local government units to remain dedicated and maintain painstaking work.

The organization further mentioned that it would be vital for the localities to consider the participation of their constituents and nurture the local dynamics and culture.

"Once the procedure is operationalized, the local leaders will have to regularly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the EWER system, learn from their experience, and continuously improve and innovate," said the UNODC.

The UN-affiliated organization is confident that communities will immensely benefit from the enforcement of this procedure.

This, as it was noted that the EWER has already been proven by the experiences in other countries to have the potential of mitigating violence, the occurrence of death, and community displacement due to war.

"When religiously implemented, it can build and stabilize peace in the community, and subsequently, the presence of peace can enable the residents to pursue livelihood and social and cultural development, which are the basic elements of a resilient community," said the UNODC. (CRG/PIA-10/Lanao del Sur)

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Claire Gigje

Information Officer I

Region 10

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