"The more consultations and dialogues, the better"

Alejo said the BUC initiative “does not claim to be the official, most exhaustive, most objective and most definitive” consultation on the matter of peace in Mindanao and welcomes other sectors who may want to conduct consultations on the matter among specific sectors only, like women, social scientists, etc…

“In the end, let’s compare notes” he said.  

At least 300 focus group discussions (FGDs)  in various parts of Mindanao and southern Palawan “in the service of the GRP-MILF peace talks as well as the broader peace process in Mindanao,” will be conducted  by Konsult Mindanaw! in April-May this year. 

Pre-tests of the FGDs will be conducted in North Cotabato; Bukidnon and Marawi City on February 10 to 12. 

The FGDs in April-May will be conducted in eight regional groupings – Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Caraga, Central Mindanao, Socsargen, Northeast Mindanao, Lanao del Norte and Outside Mindanao.

The FGDs will involve the following: from the “Christian sector,” the youth, grassroots/farmers/fisherfolk, professionals, business sector, women, religious, academe; from the “Muslim sector,” youth, grassroots/farmers/fisherfolk, professionals, businessmen, organized women, religious, madrasah, traditional leaders, Internally Displaced Persons/Bakwits, urban poor and academe; and from the “Lumad sector,”  farmers/fisherfolk, organized women, youth, tribal leaders and the urban poor.

FGDs will also be conducted in Cebu and Manila to represent Muslims residing outside Mindanao, and among other groups such as “Mindanao-wide artists’ groups, media group, other key informants.”

Alejo said the BUC initiative focuses on the network of the Bishops-Ulama, expanding it to include the Lumad sector. 

He said Konsult Mindanaw! also involves doing a review of literature and initiatives which he said, they will also subject to the four questions that will be asked in the FGDs:

“What is your vision of peace? What are your recommendations on the peace talks between the GRP and the MILF? What can you recommend on the broader peace process? What can you personally contribute – or even sacrifice – for peace in Mindanao?”

For the FGDs, the questions will be translated to the local languages in the eight regional divisions that the research team proposed. 

According to the Konsult Mindanaw! primer, the aim of the consultation is to ensure “greater participation of the greater number of stakeholders in the Mindanao peace process.”

“We’d like to go back to all these voices trying and crying to be heard,” Alejo told the BUC’s 36th General Assembly last Thursday. 

Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla, BUC co-convenor, said the Mindanao-wide community consultations are “unprecedented.”

“The whole country will benefit from this historic project,” he said.

Alejo told MindaNews they expect regional results would be available by June or July. 

“We are making history,” Capalla said at the BUC Assembly. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)