Learn from peace and dev?t paradigms in Mindanao; attend Feb 2007 meet

"Checkpoints and Chokepoints: Learning from Peace and Development Paradigms and Practices in Mindanao" will be the theme of the 1st Mindanao Studies Conference on February 23 to 25 at the Marco Polo hotel here.

The first of a series of conferences on Mindanao, it is being organized by the Mindanao Studies Consortium Foundation, Inc., a group of mostly university-based institutions presently chaired by UP in Mindanao.

UP Mindanao Chancellor Ricardo de Ungria, also concurrent chair of the MSCFI, told a pre-conference meeting here Tuesday that the conference is in line with the Consortium’s mission to “plan, implement, and evaluate the research agenda for peace and development in Mindanao in the next five years through multi-sectoral partnerships and collaboration” and the group’s vision of having a community of institutions that will “coordinate, facilitate, and disseminate researches and help bridge the gap between theory and practice in the pursuit of peace and development in Mindanao.”

The conference will gather peace advocates, policy makers and development workers “to exchange views and perspectives on peace and development interventions in Mindanao” and serve as a “venue for reviewing past development interventions in Mindanao and to make appropriate policy recommendations.”

Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, conference director, said the conference will discuss the “effects of interventions of donor countries in Mindanao.”

The conference objective, according to a briefing paper, is “to enhance the proper understanding and appreciation of the existence of various ODA (Official Development Assistance)-assisted activities in Mindanao” and to “examine what has worked as opposed to what has not, in an effort to determine future appropriate policy/program interventions.”

Alejo said the conference is intended “not just to multiply data on the ground but also to analyze frameworks in Mindanao” and to look into “not just development paradigms but also practices.”

“All our activities are based on approved projects. Projects are based on planning. Planning is based on analysis. Analysis is based on frameworks,” he said, to emphasize the need for analyzing frameworks.

He said there is a need to look into the “best practices” and even the “failures” so people can learn from them.

He said sometimes interventions for peace ended up triggering conflicts.

The conference sub-themes will tackle “history of development in Mindanao; current initiatives in Mindanao; comparative study between Mindanao and other areas with similar situations.”

Conference organizers expect 150 participants from among various stakeholders in Mindanao.

Three Mindanawons will keynote the conference: Datu Michael Mastura of  Maguindanao, Prof. Patricio Abinales of Ozamiz and Kyoto and Bai Era Colmo, a Lumad leader.

Simultaneous workshops will be held on frameworks on peace and development interventions; development practices/politics of aid; and post-conflict transitions; the role of institutions: academe, media, religious; governance; private sector; current initiatives.

The MSCFI is composed of UP Mindanao, Ateneo de Davao University, Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo), University of Southeastern Philippines, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), Mindanao State University-Marawi City (MSU-Marawi), Notre Dame University in Cotabato, Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga City, Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (Afrim), and the Dansalan College Foundation, Inc.