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1st Infantry Division’s advisory board benchmarks peace-building strategies

PAGADIAN CITY, Oct. 11 (PIA) – The 1st Infantry "Tabak" Division, Philippine Army, holds the third quarter meeting of the Multi-Sectoral Advisory Board (MSAB) benchmarking on the peace-building initiatives of the Pakigdait, Incorporated.

Pakigdait is an Interfaith Grassroots Peacebuilding Civil Society Organization based in Iligan City and operating in various municipalities in Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte. The organization is bridging the gaps through dialogues and conversations through its programs, centered on women, the youth, and former combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Philippine Army's First Infantry Division, Governance and Strategy Management Office Chief Col. Samuel G Yunque recognizes the importance of knowledge exchange to empower the defense force and contribute more effectively to their shared mission of fostering understanding, empathy, and unity within the community.

“We will learn from Pakigdait's experiences, successes, and challenges they have faced in their journey toward sustainable peace. Let us harness the collective wisdom present in this room to identify innovative approaches that can pave the way for a more peaceful and inclusive society,” he said.

Pakigdait representative Ms. Ithna Ashariy-Imamiyyah Lao Sanguila discusses their conflict transformation process which they do mostly through dialogues and conversations. Their faith-based leaders' conversations have fostered greater understanding among interfaith leaders in promoting peace, mutual trust, and cohesiveness. A capacity development program including conversations between the youth and government agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Labor and Employment has been implemented to develop their knowledge, and skills to become active citizens in their respective communities.   

Photo courtesy of Pakigdait Inc.

Further, an activity for women’s empowerment for stronger community cohesion against violent extremism has a part when participants share hugs with one another, effectively restoring and improving relationships, and breaking the gaps among the wives and mothers of combatants.

A listening session with Marawi survivors has also been conducted, providing a safe space for the survivors of the Marawi Siege to share their stories and experiences during the siege and be able to develop recommendations for their recovery, reconciliation, and healing. 

Furthermore, their Camps Transformation Programs where they visited MILF and MNLF camps have been effective. A fortified relationship between local MILF and MNLF Commanders and their communities has been noted. It was a breakthrough for both groups to participate in identifying risk assessment in times of election and became election monitors. This phase also highlights the good relations between the MILF and the Armed Forces of the Philippines which solidified and strengthened the value of community in camp transformation.

When there are also encountered challenges such as limited time for the implementation of the women and youth peace projects, the nonappearance of some youth during the conduct of activities, and difficulty in drafting project proposals because of their unfamiliarity with technicalities, the peace projects have undoubtedly paved the way to reach out to the vulnerable groups and provided them a safe space to articulate their agenda and connect them to respective line agencies.

First Infantry “Tabak” Division, Assistant Division Commander Col. Antonio John B. Divinagracia recognizes the power of dialogue and cooperation, saying that the Tabak Division of the Philippine Army is committed to working on initiatives that promote peace and unity within communities.

The Multi-Sectoral Advisory Board of the 1st Infantry "Tabak" Division seeks the support of the different sectors and stakeholders for the continuity and sustainment of the Army Transformation Roadmap (ATR) which envisions the military to be world-class, multi-mission ready, and cross-domain capable. 

“These insights will undoubtedly help us in charting a path toward the transformation of our organization. As the army, we at the Tabak division must learn from their best practices and consider how we can contribute to similar initiatives that promote peace and unity within our communities. I am confident that the insights we gain from this discussion will help shape our strategy moving forward,” Col Divinagracia said. (NBE/CCP/PIA9)

About the Author

Clennkei Peñalosa

Information Officer

Region 9

Clennkei C. Peñalosa is a member of the Subanen Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) who earn a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting at the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) and is currently pursuing her Juris Doctor degree. A content creator and writer, she writes news and feature stories in Zamboanga Peninsula and manages PIA9's social media platforms.

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