INSTITUTE FOR AUTONOMY AND GOVERNANCE

KONRAD ADENAUER-STIFTUNG

ALUMNI CENTER, NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY, COTABATO CITY

ARMM in Transition Series
In titu fo A to o ya dGv rn n e In . s te r u n m n o e a c , c

No. 3

September 8, 2005

The ARMM in Transition Series brings together academics and leaders in the Autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao to a discussion and analysis of critical issues that shape the future of the autonomous region. Views expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, Inc. and the Konrad- AdenauerStiftung. This paper “Teaching Tolerance in Mindanao explores the role of peace education to promote peace and development in the southern Philippines. It addresses the following issues: How does education advance peace and prosperity? What are the problems confronting the field of peace education in Mindanao? How does education addresses intolerance and extremism in Mindanao? This paper is written by Atty. Benedicto Bacani, Executive Director, Institute for Autonomy and Governance. Lay-out by Grace delos Reyes-Talamillo. This series is made possible through the grant of the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung. KAS is in 3rd floor, ALPAP I building, 140 Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines, telephone 8943501. Established in 2001, the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, Inc., seeks to provide research, training and technical assistance to promote meaningful autonomy and governance in the southern Philippines. The Institute is at the Alumni Center, Notre Dame University, Notre Dame Avenue, Cotabato City, Philippines, telephone 0918-5040-805.

Benedicto Bacani

Teaching Tolerance in Mindanao
INTRODUCTION During my daughter Hannah’s 5th birthday party, she opened one of her presents and immediately asked me to set it aside because her Muslim friends were still around. I understood what she meant after seeing what she got: a piggybank. Hannah is now nine years old. When we moved to our rented house in Maryland, our home for the period of my fellowship with the United States Institute of Peace, she suggested that we abstain from eating pork in the house. The house we are renting is owned by a Muslim friend from the Philippines. Last December, Jaina, Hannah’s friend in Mindanao, sent her a Christmas card and a note on how her clan celebrated the end of the season of Ramadhan. Jaina wondered whether Hannah misses the familiar sight of the star and crescent hanging from light posts in our city to symbolize the twin celebration of Christmas and the end of Ramadhan. Hannah is a Christian and Jaina, a Muslim. Yet they both attended kindergarten in a child peace learning center, one among five pre-schools in Mindanao that implements a peace curriculum. Children there are taught tolerance and respect for religious and cultural diversities, among other values. In advocating for integrating peace education in the curricula of schools in conflict zones like Mindanao, I always point to Hannah and Jaina as Exhibit “A” – compelling proof that teaching peace values to children in their formative years can significantly promote respect for pluralism, which in my mind is the most potent weapon against all forms of religious extremism. In one forum, I was asked whether it is possible that I may be overstating the argument for peace education, including for children who have not yet been directly affected by violent conflicts such as the centuriesold conflict between Christians and the Muslim minority in Mindanao. I knew the person who posed the question was just being polite; what he wanted to say was that I was naïve in believing that children who have been taught peace can escape the prejudices embedded in Philippine culture that divide Muslim and Christians. This assertion is valid in some respects. The animosity between Christians and Muslims in the Philippines while not rooted in religion is so much deeply ingrained in the history and culture of the Filipino nation that

CONTENTS
A Glimpse of Mindanao The Beginnings of Peace Education in Mindanao Framework and Programs Challenges Conclusion 2 4 4 5 7

the track record of peace education to promote better relations between parties in the seemingly intractable Mindanao conflict cannot be clearly and easily ascertained. Moreover, there has been no empirical study like surveys and researches conducted to really assess in a systematic way the impact of peace education in promoting peace in Mindanao. Thus, any exposition on the track record of peace education in Mindanao will revolve around our experiences on the ground and available evaluations of specific programs.

A GLIMPSE OF MINDANAO
Let me give you a glimpse of the context where we do peace education. Mindanao is an island south of the Philippines, and home to Christians, Muslims and other indigenous groups. Muslims in the Philippines make up 5 percent, or around 4 million, of the Philippines’ total population of 82 million. They are geographically concentrated in the islands of Mindanao and Sulu in the southern Philippines, where they constitute around 20 percent of the region’s population of more than 16 million. They belong to three major (and ten minor) ethno-linguistic groups: the Maguindanaoans in the Pulangi River Basin of central Mindanao, the Maranaos of the Lanao Lake region in central Mindanao, and the Tausugs in the Sulu archipelago. Muslims are in the majority in five provinces of Mindanao (Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi) and in the Islamic City of Marawi. Muslims in the Philippines consider Mindanao as their homeland from time immemorial. Historically, the Muslims inhabited Mindanao as far back as the thirteenth century when missionaries brought Islam to the island. From then on until Spanish colonization of the Philippines in the last quarter of the sixteenth century, Islam and trade thrived in the island. Spanish colonization put a stop to Islam’s further expansion and development by waging war against the Muslims whom the Spaniards referred to as “Moros” (Moors). For three centuries, the Moros strongly resisted the incursions of the colonizers and the Spaniards failed to fully subjugate the Moroland until they ceded the Philippines to the United States in 1896. American colonization succeeded in subjugating the Muslim south by 1914. Aijaz Ahmad has identified the factors behind the relatively swift success of the Americans in contrast to the repeated failures of the Spaniards: First, the balance of forces: the Americans had sophisticated weapons and the ability to concentrate forces across the archipelago effectively. Second, a new model of colonial administration: the Americans allotted considerable administrative powers to governments at the municipal and district levels, which clinched their allegiance to the colonial authority. Third, the demographic model of colonization: entire populations, for the most part landless and ambitious, were encouraged to migrate from the Visayas and Luzon to create Christian enclaves in overwhelmingly Moro areas—that is, on lands the Muslims claimed as their own. [Ahmad Aijaz, “Class and Colony in Mindanao,” in Rebels, Warlords and Ulama: A Reader on Muslim Separatism and the War in Southern Philippines, ed. Eric Gutierrez et al. (Quezon City: Institute for Popular Democracy, 1999), 5–6.] At the time the Philippine commonwealth was established in 1935, government policy was already geared toward assimilating the Moros into the larger Philippine society. As large Christian resettlement communities sprouted quickly in Mindanao from the 1930s onward, the Moros became the minority in the land they considered their own; the proportion of Moro inhabitants to the total population fell from 98 percent to 40 percent by 1976, and to around 20 percent currently. Moros now own less than 17 percent of property on the islands, mostly in impoverished areas in the countryside. By the latest estimates, 80 percent of the Moros are landless.
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“Muslims in the Philippines consider Mindanao as their homeland from time immemorial. Historically, the Muslims inhabited Mindanao as far back as the thirteenth century when missionaries brought Islam to the island.”

In the 1970’s, the first Moro revolutionary group, the Moro National Liberation Front waged a bloody armed struggle against the Philippine government which for the Moros are continuing the colonial policy of complete subjugation of the Moroland. This dark chapter in our history has claimed the lives of around 120,000 combatants and civilians and the displacement of more than one million people. In 1977, the Philippine government and the MNLF entered into a ceasefire agreement and eventually a peace pact called the Tripoli Agreement brokered by the Organization of Islamic Conference. The deal called for the grant of autonomy in provinces and cities in southern Philippines. The Philippine government under Ferdinand Marcos, however, subjected the implementation of the agreement to constitutional processes like the holding of a plebiscite, which the MNLF found to have been a violation of the agreement. The unilateral implementation of the government of the terms of the agreement led to the collapse of the peace process with the MNLF. In 1996, the MNLF entered into another peace pact that puts in place a mechanism for the implementation of the Tripoli Agreement of 1977. While many MNLF members were integrated in the armed forces and the national police pursuant to the 1996 Peace agreement, peace dividends have not gone down to the grassroots which remain to be poor, uneducated and victims of human rights violations from armed groups including the Philippine military. The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, a creation of the peace agreement that institutionalizes autonomy and limited self-rule for the Moros is a dismal failure in empowering its constituents. The government and the MNLF are currently engaged in endless “blaming game” for the agreement’s failure of implementation. Lately, MNLF troops loyal to MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari (who is currently in prison for rebellion) have renewed offensives against the Philippine military. As I speak before you today, fierce fighting is continuing in the island of Sulu south of the Philippines. With the failure of the 1996 peace agreement to bring lasting peace and development, a breakaway faction of the MNLF, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is waging another armed struggle that is more radical, religious and Islamic than the MNLF. The MILF’s demand: an independent Islamic state for Mindanao. The MILF, which is being linked to the terrorist groups Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiya and Al Qaeda, is presently engaged in peace negotiations with the government. The negotiations are under way after two major wars in 2000 and 2003 that claimed the lives of thousands of combatants and civilians and the displacement of around 100,000 residents. There are other armed groups operating in Mindanao: the Abu Sayyaf which has gained international notoriety in kidnapping foreigners; Pentagon gang and Abu Sofia and the so-called lost command or renegade groups of the MNLF and the MILF which are engaged in criminal activities for personal gain. The Philippine military is linking these groups aside from some elements of the MILF to international terrorist groups. Compounding the problem of peacelessness in the region is clan and family feuds (rido) where feuding families fight their differences out with high-powered guns. Political groups are also notorious in advancing their political agenda in violent ways. In sum, the context where we do peace education can be described thus: 1) Endless armed conflicts, in different forms and sizes; 2) Conflicts where solutions have miserably failed and where people look at peace agreements with derision and skepticism; 3) Deepseated biases and prejudices between the Christian majority and the Muslim minority; 4) Atmosphere of paranoia, hopelessness, fear, and repressed anger among the people; 5) Mindanao as a fertile ground for religious extremism and terrorism. The biggest question is: What and where is peace education in this setting?

“The unilateral implementation of the government of the terms of the agreement led to the collapse of the peace process with the MNLF.”

Compounding the problem of peacelessness in the region is clan and family feuds (rido) where feuding families fight their differences out with high-powered guns. Political groups are also notorious in advancing their political agenda in violent ways.

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THE BEGINNINGS OF PEACE EDUCATION IN MINDANAO
In 1987, peace education was first introduced in Notre Dame University, in Cotabato City, Mindanao, when a team headed by Dr. Toh Sweehin, the 2000 Peace Education laureate, conducted workshops among educators. The workshops produced a core program designed for the Master and Doctorate in education degrees on peace education. The courses first introduced were disarmament education, education for human rights, global development and justice, environmental education, ethnicity, cultural solidarity and education, active nonviolence, values education, third-world education and development and religious perspectives on peace and development. A research methodology course was also designed to better serve the need of research in peace education, which would be more qualitatively oriented, sensitive to ethicalpolitical issues, and conducive to dialogue and conscientious reflection among research subjects. The introduction of formal graduate courses in Peace education at NDU led to the establishment of the first ever peace education center in the country, which was the first recipient of the Aurora Aragon Peace Awards, the Philippines’ Nobel peace prize. From NDU, the spread of peace education in school, colleges and universities as well as in civil society was phenomenal. The signing of the peace agreement between the government and the MNLF in 1996 served as a catalyst for more resources allocated to the development of peace education. NDU was designated as the key institution in a consortium of five Mindanao universities to expand graduate programs in peace education and research. This program produced 40 MAs and 20 PhDs who are now spearheading peace education programs in their own colleges and universities and heading peace centers around Mindanao. The spread of the “peace education virus” extended to institutions outside of Mindanao like the Miriam College Center for Peace Education, Philippine Normal University, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the World Council for Curriculum and Instruction (WCCI)Philippines Chapter and the Religious of the Assumption school network among others. Today, peace education is a common fixture not only in schools, colleges and universities but also in grassroots community peace-building. Post-conflict human resources development programs of international aid organizations in Mindanao have integrated peace education in one form or another in their training designs. There are Mindanao-wide activities organized by the network of peace educators namely the observance of the week of peace; inter-religious dialogues; solidarity activities during Ramadan for the Muslims and the Christmas season for Christians; peace concerts and peace essay contests.

“Today, peace education is a common fixture not only in schools, colleges and universities but also in grassroots community peace-building.”

FRAMEWORK AND PROGRAMS
While peace education programs are done at different levels and by different institutions and groups, a general framework underpins the various initiatives. This framework was adopted initially during the workshops conducted by Dr. Toh’s team and was reviewed and ratified in subsequent conventions of peace educators in Mindanao.

“The Mindanao peace education programs promote a holistic framework of education for a culture of peace with six crucial issues.”

Briefly, the Mindanao peace education programs promote a holistic framework of education for a culture of peace with six crucial issues. They are 1) dismantling the culture of war; 2) living with justice and compassion; 3) building cultural respect, reconciliation and solidarity; 4) promoting human rights and responsibilities; 5) living in harmony with the earth; and 6) cultivating inner peace. The framework also adopts four pedagogical principles: holism where issues of peace and violence are considered dynamically interrelated; centrality of values formation, where justice, compassion, caring for life, spirituality, “one world orientation”, and active non-violence are promoted; dialogue through active teaching and learning strategies, and conscientious reflection, where the active and critical consciousness of learners is formed, empowering them in the process to be catalysts for change.

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This framework was affirmed and further articulated in the Cotabato Declaration on Education for a Culture of Peace during the first Mindanao Congress for Peace educators in April 2000. The declaration makes reference to major themes and issues in educating for peace in Mindanao: history of Mindanao from a native perspective; social justice and equity; environmental destruction and environmental care; human rights, interreligious, intrareligious and cultural dialogue and solidarity; armed conflict, arms proliferation and other issues of militarization and demilitarization; and personal peace, values, knowledge and skills for people’s empowerment. Lately, there have been real efforts to enrich this framework by integrating Islamic perspectives in educating for peace. Universities in Muslim-populated areas such as the Mindanao State University and non-government organizations like the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy are spearheading efforts in promoting Islamic perspectives on peace, violence, democracy and dialogue. There are also movements toward integrating peace education in Madrasah education as well as ongoing programs to promote community-based non-formal peace education. These grassroots programs have resulted in some cases in the establishment of peace zones or spaces/havens for peace where communities have declared their areas off-limits to military and rebel combat operations. At Notre Dame University, the following results of our peace education programs are noted: • Improved awareness of conditions of peacelessness in all levels of society. Our faculty and students have become more critical of policies and structures that perpetuate injustice and violence. Issues such as campus violence, care for the environment, and academic freedom are freely debated in campus. There is an increased level of expectation imposed on the government and other social institutions to perform their roles in a way that is democratic, responsible and graft-free. Sensitivity to diversity of cultures and religion. On-campus programs are designed in a way that is fully respectful of the religious beliefs of members of the university community. Participants in our inter-religious dialogue sessions have expressed that they became more aware and appreciative of each other’s religious and cultural backgrounds. Managing conflict in a nonviolent way. Student leaders are more conscious of their role as mediator in conflicts involving students. Promotion of the culture of peace that brought the outside communities to establish peace zones and spaces for peace. Establishment of other peace education centers in Mindanao, drawing lessons and inspiration from the NDU experience. Graduates of our peace education program are holding key positions in government and NGOs, where they influence policies and programs that promote the culture of peace. The interaction of education and advocacy has contributed to a blossoming of the body of knowledge on peace and development.

• • • • •

(Benedicto Bacani, “Bridging Theory and Practice in Peace Education: The Notre Dame University Peace Education Experience; Conflict Resolution Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 4, Summer 2004; Wiley Periodicals, Inc. and the Association for Conflict Resolution.)

“Educating for peace is a slow process and unlike peace agreements cannot claim to bring instant and spectacular results.”

CHALLENGES
Educating for peace is a slow process and unlike peace agreements cannot claim to bring instant and spectacular results. The success indicators of peace education are intangibleschange of attitudes and the formation of peace values. Thus, one of the greatest challenges in
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doing peace education in Mindanao is to nurture patience and perseverance not only among the learners but also among the educators themselves.

“Since dividends of peace education are in the long term, there are very few institutional partners who are willing to support long-haul peace education programs causing a severe shortage in material resources and faculty who can develop, promote and sustain peace education.”

Also, since dividends of peace education are in the long term, there are very few institutional partners who are willing to support long-haul peace education programs causing a severe shortage in material resources and faculty who can develop, promote and sustain peace education. While peace education as part of the curricular offering is supported by students’ tuition, there is lack of resources for the continuing education of peace educators, review and improvement of peace education curriculum, production of modules, textbooks and reading materials, and the conduct of non-formal peace education in grassroots communities. There is also the need for peace educators to be ready to expand their paradigm of peace and peace education, especially in the face of changing realities. The resurgence of terrorism brings us back to the drawing board in order to revisit and evaluate peace education to the end that it will be relevant and responsive to present realities. The holistic character of peace education requires comprehensive programs in education, advocacy, action and research on diverse fronts and levels. We do experience fragmentation and disunity of purpose and action between academic programs and peace centers. The challenge is to consolidate all efforts through better coordination, networking and cooperation between and among peace education centers. Another challenge is to maintain a healthy balance between peace education and direct intervention in conflict situations. There exists some tension between peace educators and community peace workers who feel that peace education must be drawn out of community experiences. On the other hand, peace educators challenge peace workers to develop a conceptual framework in doing peace work. Despite the strides of peace education in Mindanao, there are concerns that those in it are already moderate Christians and Muslims and that educating for peace is not actually making a substantial impact on terrorist groups that use, or more accurately misuse, religion to advance their agenda. We must pursue at all times opportunities to reach out to extremist elements, both Christian and Muslim. But it is equally important for us to continue working toward ensuring that moderate Muslims and Christians continue to take the path of peace in resolving violent conflicts. In his assessment of the peace education at Notre Dame University which reflects the conditions in Mindanao, Dr. Toh identified some key lessons learned: 1) The need to authentically practice collaboration and horizontally so that both North and South partners equitably share knowledge, skills, creative energies, and risks in a spirit of mutual respect and avoid the “I am more expert” syndrome contrary to peace pedagogy; 2) The importance of constructive and non-ideological communication, understandable to all stakeholders and keeping minds and hearts open to the message of peace building; 3) An active linking of academic programs and learning with community contexts and realities; 4) A facilitative institutional leadership at the most senior levels; 5) The indispensability of a holistic concept of peace; and 6) The supportive values of assertiveness, hopefulness, patience and perseverance (Toh, S.H. Floresca-Cawagas, V. & Durante, O. (1993). Building a peace education program: Critical reflection on the Notre Dame University experience in the Philippines. In A. Bjersted (Ed.). Peace education: Global perspectives. (pp. 111-146). Malmo: Almqvist & Wiksell International.)

“The holistic character of peace education requires comprehensive programs in education, advocacy, action and research on diverse fronts and levels.”

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CONCLUSION
By way of conclusion, let me continue with the story of Hannah and Jaina. While Hannah learns tolerance and respect for Muslims in school, she gets a daily dose of unsavory remarks about Muslims after school, some coming from our own relatives and friends. In Christian communities, negative stereotypes of Muslims as being war freaks, traitors and untrustworthy are strong. On the other hand, Hannah’s Muslim friend Jaina is likewise indoctrinated by her elders after school that Christians are landgrabbers out to take away Muslim lands. It is not an infrequent occurrence for my wife and myself to try to “undo” the unpleasant things Hannah hears about Muslims while reinforcing the peace values she learns in school. In deeply rooted conflicts like that in Mindanao, there are few role models for religious tolerance among the older generation. In the conflict zones, students are often torn between what they are taught in peace education classes, on one hand, and their own family and community values, on the other. In a culture where family and community values take precedence over all others, it is wishful thinking to believe that the young can change or even question their elders’ strong abhorrence to those whose faith is different from theirs. We can only hope that, once these students get on with their own life, they will be able to live by the peace values they learned in school. It seems to me that there is something “generational” in the continuing animosity between Christians and Muslims in Mindanao. When professors from my university were designing an inter-religious dialogue program for students, they were worried about the prospect of the discussions on religion getting out of hand and thus further worsen animosity between Christians and Muslims. So they came up with a design that limited the initial session to questions about each other’s faith, with answers to be made only in subsequent sessions. During the pilot class, the ten Muslims and ten Christian students reacted strongly against the questions-first-answers-afterwards rule. They insisted that they should be able to answer questions about their own faith, staged a “mutiny” of sorts, and on their own took control of facilitating the discussions. While the students were engaged in a spirited and frank and yet respectful discourse, the facilitators, by then sidelined as observers, felt both amused and shamed by the capacity of young people to go beyond their own fears and their own culture’s prejudices. In that session, the young gave our generation an important insight: While we claim to teach tolerance and respect for diversity, we continue to allow our fears, biases and prejudices to rule our relations with those who do not share our own beliefs. How much of the fears and biases of this generation are transmitted to the next is a question that begs an answer in this era where intolerance that breeds religious extremism disturbs the peace in pluralistic societies. Peace educators in Mindanao have almost given up on this generation. Our efforts are now geared towards sowing the seed of peace, tolerance and respect for pluralism in young Muslims and Christians in Mindanao through an educative process that emphasizes active engagement between cultures and religions. To speak of the track record of peace education in Mindanao at this time does not involve any empirical data but of stories of people and organizations who have transformed and were likewise transformed by this educative process, slow and incremental yet leaves lasting impressions on the primacy of the dignity of persons and respect for humanity which is the key in resolving violent conflicts in a constructive way. Indeed the stories of Hannah and Jaina do not solely define the track record of educating for peace in the southern Philippines. But they certainly provide hope that we are on track in the road to peace and development in Mindanao.

“In deeply rooted conflicts like that in Mindanao, there are few role models for religious tolerance among the older generation.”

“To speak of the track record of peace education in Mindanao at this time does not involve any empirical data but of stories of people and organizations. . .”

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