by Alexandra Medina
Lee Forsythe, Mindanao Program Manager for Economic Development and Governance, had visited many U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – supported projects in the past, but his visit to Magpet last August 24 and 25, 2015 was the first for the Applying Binding, Bonding and Bridging to Land Conflict in Mindanao (A3B) Project.
During his visit, beneficiaries of the project talked about the results brought about by the project, citing significant changes in their personal life, in the relations between the Indigenous Peoples and settlers in dealing with the local government, and in the improved security over the lands that they occupy.
“We appreciate the sub-projects provided through the A3B project, which resulted to first-time access to water and improved access to other barangay based services,” said one beneficiary.
Supported by the United States Agency for International Development, the A3B Project is implemented through partners of the Catholic Relief Services. The project approach of using Binding, Bonding and Bridging to address land related conflicts is likewise a “first” in using a novel strategy which taps Traditional and Religious Leaders (TRLs) as bridge builders to connect conflicting parties.
TRLs said they were grateful for the knowledge, attitudes and skills that they gained as mediators of conflicts. Members of the Lupong Tagapamayapa shared that through the A3B project, it was the first time they learned about the barangay justice system and this afforded them the confidence to carry out their mandated roles in addressing local conflicts.
Likewise, Mayor Florenito Gonzaga and other municipal officials affirmed the benefits they gained when the Mayor signed an Executive Order creating a Municipal Interagency Working Group (MIWG) that would address complex land conflicts in Magpet.
“Through the MIWG and with the system of coordination in place, we do not foresee the escalation of land conflicts,” shared Timuay Macapantao Manamba, who represents the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples in the MIWG.