[PACE OF PEACE By Dr. Lourdes G. dela Torre] Bukidnon’s Human Rights Situation Needs an Urgent Collaborative Response

The recent Bukidnon Dialogue on Human Rights Situation is a positive
indicator of concern for the issue.  The dialogue attended by various
civil society organizations, the media and the security groups such as
the AFP and PNP has shown that collaboration is possible in attaining
a common goal of promoting and defending human rights.

In the dialogue-forum, I was informed of the status of Human Rights
in Bukidnon.  It was revealed that Human Rights advocacy has been
promoted not only by the civil society organizations but also by other
stakeholders through various community-based programs.  It was an
opportunity for the stakeholders to come together and share their
experiences of human rights violation as a community and as
individuals.

Through the exchange of experiences, I realized that the human rights
violations in Bukidnon have changed its form.  Unlike the obvious
violations committed in the form of physical violence, the recent
violations were dominantly structural violence (though there are still
pockets of killings in some areas).

The structural violence noted in the dialogue includes the
destruction of the natural resources, the violation of the indigenous
peoples’ rights to their ancestral domains, and the presence of
development aggression that can displace some communities from the
economic niche. The presence of big plantations that caused the
degradation of many prime lands and the flooding of many communities
is also termed as a structural violence. This kind of violence also
needs to be addressed by policies and legislative remedies.

The participants were able to manifest a higher level of analysis on
their condition.  This implies that the people have “levelled up” in
their view of human rights, and its importance to them as citizens of
a nation and as persons in their communities.

There is urgent need for more intensive human rights education in
Bukidnon that would develop consciousness not only among the adult
group but also among the young children in schools and the community.
More collaboration on this effort is needed among the stakeholders and
concerned government agencies to deter more structural violence.

The organizers of the dialogue deserve commendation for this effort.
May this be sustained and it is hoped that the regular assessments and
monitoring are not just for documentation purposes but for a more
realistic and effective response to this disturbing condition.
[Dr. Lourdes G. dela Torre is a research consultant in Anthropology,
Peace Studies, Gender and Teacher education and other related fields.
She has also published books such as Peace Education, Field Study:
Bridging Classroom with Field Experiences through Mutya Publishing
Co.]