February 6th, 2016 | by Balaod Mindanaw
BALAOD MINDANAW, INC.
“RESPONDING TO THE CHANGING NEEDS OF THE PARALEGALS AND RURAL COMMUNITIES: A LEGAL EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM IN MINDANAO”
2013 YEAREND NARRATIVE REPORT
- EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The year 2013 saw small victories as well as challenges for BALAOD Mindanaw (BALAOD). However, these challenges did not prevent BALAOD from pursuing its mission of working with the marginalized sectors, identities and communities in the advancement of their legal and justice issues in Mindanao. This is done in the context of active peoples’ participation in governance towards building empowered sustainable and peaceful communities.
With the community-based paralegal formation as its main program, BALAOD continued to work towards the legal empowerment of communities, specifically with community partners in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental Province, Cantilan, Surigao del Sur and the province of Bukidnon. It also provided some key interventions in the provinces of Davao, Cotabato, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur and Iloilo. With a total of 18 trainings and 10 paralegal clinics conducted, more than 538 trained community paralegals continued to address issues affecting resource tenure including environmental and women’s issues.
The litigation work of BALAOD continues. Its work with paralegals was further strengthened as it encouraged paralegals to adopt metalegal strategies like dialogues, mobilizations, rallies, and other peaceful activities in order to compel the government to perform its duties to the people and to hasten the resolution of issues. Some of the cases currently handled by BALAOD include the issuance of an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) against Marcventure Mining and Development Company (MMDC) which continues to destroy the forest watershed reserves in Cantilan, Surigao de Sur, the protection of BCBA farmers from ejectment and other cases dealing with resource tenure.
BALAOD likewise continues to work with its partners in pursuing favorable local and national policies. BALAOD supported the campaign for the passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) and the National Land Use Act (NLUA) in Congress. BALAOD together with the community-based paralegals drafted and pushed for local policies before their respective local Sanggunians.
One of the strategies adopted by BALAOD in mainstreaming alternative lawyering is its work with law schools and school-based legal-aid centers and organizations for the implementation of internship programs. BALAOD was able to host four (4) interns from four universities: Ateneo de Manila University, Ateneo de Cagayan Xavier University, Liceo de Cagayan University, and Mindanao State University- Institute of Technology-Iligan. BALAOD has also maintained its partnership with Fr. Saturnino Urios University in Butuan City in advocating for environmental protection. In addition, BALAOD maintains a pool of private and public practicing lawyers as partners in mainstreaming alternative lawyering.
It is worth mentioning that BALAOD’s interventions have been successfully translated into a comprehensive document which has been communicated to the public through various publications and thru its website, www.balaodmindanaw.org. BALAOD was able to publish two books with the support of the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE): a Project Documentation and a Paralegal Tool Kit that will guide partners if they want to replicate the interventions of BALAOD. BALAOD likewise documented its experience in implementing its one-year project supported by the Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation (ICCO) on protecting the gains of agrarian reform through the Social Enterprise Legal Empowerment on Contracts and Obligations (SELECO) Program.
In the midst of all these initiatives, the BALAOD team bravely hurdled challenges on financial sustainability but this did not deter it from formulating creative and participative strategies in improving its financial condition. It continued to implement its policies in the collection of fees and other expenses based on its partners’ financial capacity. It also continued to promote the concept of giving counterparts. These strategies were just few of the many steps that BALAOD took to comply with its five-year financial sustainability plan.
In 2014, BALAOD will continue its interventions through the empowerment of the Indigenous Peoples to advocate for their rightful seats in various local legislative bodies. It will also continue its intervention for the protection of the Forest Watershed Reserves in Mt. Hilong Hilong in Surigao del Sur through its litigation work, capacity building efforts, and its policy advocacies and campaigns. BALAOD will also embark on new challenges of helping address certain legal issues that it has not handled before, including but not limited to land rights, women’s rights, and access to justice issues before, during, and after calamities. Through these, BALAOD hopes to be more relevant and effective in working with the poor and enhancing their knowledge and capacities to use the law as a tool in advancing and protecting their rights.
- HIGHLIGHTS OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- COMMUNITY-BASED PARALEGAL FORMATION PROGRAM
In 2013, BALAOD Community-Based Paralegal Formation Program (CPP) was focused in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, Cantilan, Surigao del Sur and Bukidnon areas in addressing issues on indigenous women’s reproductive health and rights, Indigenous Peoples’ mandatory representation, land rights, watershed protection, and the protection of the gains accomplished on the area of agrarian reform. BALAOD was also involved in special projects with the Bukidnon Higaonon Tribal Association (BUHITA) in Bukidnon, SIAD Initiatives in Mindanao Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development (SIMCARRD) partner communities in the Davao and Cotabato provinces, and with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for the provinces of South Cotabato, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur and Iloilo. There were eighteen (18) trainings and ten (10) paralegal clinics conducted for the whole year, participated by more than 538 paralegals coming from the farmers, Indigenous Peoples, fisherfolks and women sectors.
BALAOD conducted two projects that supported its interventions with the Indigenous Peoples: (1) A capacity development for women and their reproductive rights coupled with the strengthening and capacity development of the IP mandatory representatives covering the areas of Cagayan de Oro City, and the Municipalities of Opol, Manticao, Balingasag and Claveria, Misamis Oriental; and (2) The protection of the forest watershed reserves in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur. The latter was supported by the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE). The first phase of the project with FPE was terminated on May 2013 but the follow through intervention commenced on October 2013.
BALAOD likewise continued its engagement on land rights issues through the Area Specific Development Program (ASDP) in partnership with KAISAHAN Tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan (KAISAHAN) serving the partner communities in El Salvador and Alubijid, Misamis Oriental. Other land rights interventions focused on protecting the gains of agrarian reform through several capacity development programs on land transactions and contracting. These include a program that benefited the former community-based paralegals from several peoples organizations in Bukidnon, Wao, Lanao del Sur, and Misamis Oriental that received lands through agrarian reform programs of the government .
Indigenous Peoples (IPs) Intervention in Cagayan de Oro City (CDO) and Misamis Oriental
The IP intervention of BALAOD was supported by two partners. Some of these communities benefited from the two funding sources but the activities and fund utilization were separately made for each project, though the activities and outputs of the two projects were designed to complement in attaining objectives of both projects. The projects were the strengthening of the IP Mandatory Representatives supported by Commission on Human Rights-Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (CHR-AECID ) and the Reproductive Health and Women’s Rights intervention supported by the Philippines–Australia Community Assistance Program (PACAP ).
The Reproductive Health and Women’s Rights project covered seven (7) barangays of Cagayan de Oro City and five (5) barangays of Opol, Misamis Oriental. The target participants of the project were the Barangay Health Workers and the traditional midwives or “mangongpyamo” and also the tribal leaders. The main objective of the said project is to enhance the capacities of rural women and men on human rights, laws, and policies pertaining to gender equality and reproductive health rights. Two (2) trainings were conducted and participated in by 42 community paralegals. Community paralegals gained knowledge on human rights in general and reproductive health rights in particular which increased their consciousness on the need to advance these rights. Specific issues were also raised by the participants such as the prohibition for the traditional tribal midwives (Mangongoyamo) from practicing their traditional tasks. The lack of access to health services, especially reproductive health needs, was seen as a common problem among the target communities. Paralegals were taught the concept of the law and the Philippine legal system and how it affected and influenced the society. Specific laws affecting women and their rights were also thoroughly discussed with the paralegals. Community activities were identified by the paralegals as venues for them to apply their learning.
Initial policy proposals and programs were identified by the paralegals. Some broad steps on how to push for these proposals were also ascertained. As of date, some of these paralegals have already discussed their policy proposals with their respective IP Mandatory Representatives of their barangays.
The relation between the DULANGAN and United Higaonon Tribe of Cagayan de Oro (UNIHITRICO) was strengthened through the common activities and common venues of interaction provided by the project. In addition, BALAOD and the City Government of Cagayan de Oro, thru the City Welfare and Development and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-Misamis Oriental started the discussion on how to mainstream the debate regarding the establishment of programs specifically responding to IP health needs. The objective is to institutionalize a health program for the IP at the local government (LGU) level to ensure its sustainability.
The other intervention was the strengthening of the capacities of the IP Mandatory Representatives. The project covered the barangays of UNIHITRICO in Cagayan de Oro, DULANGAN in Opol and Manticao and PAMALIHI in Balingasag and Claveria. The project was aimed at capacitating the IP mandatory representatives with necessary knowledge on human rights, basic local governance, and skills to be effective members of the Local Sanggunian. As advocate of democratic participation in governance, BALAOD is of the belief that pushing for the installation of the mandatory representatives to the local legislative bodies may not be enough if no capacity development intervention will be given to these representatives for them to effectively participate in the legislative process and articulate the agenda they are representing. Two trainings were conducted and participated by 37 IP Mandatory representatives and IP leaders. They were taught some basic human rights concepts and international human rights instruments and the concept of law and the Philippine legal system. The participants’ knowledge and understanding on these topics have significantly increased as can be observed in the discussions. They were also updated on the latest issuances from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the NCIP regarding the guidelines on mandatory representation. They were also trained skills on local legislation processes and writing ordinances and resolutions. They were made to write “hands on”, proposed legislations that they will bring to theSanggunian. The themes of the ordinances drafted include Anti-Violence against Women and Children (VAWC), Anti-Child Labor, Wildlife Protection, Environment, Regulation of astray animals, and many more. Each of the tribal groups also formulated their respective legislative agenda. These agenda will serve as the guides of the tribes, through their mandatory representatives, in engaging the local legislative body.
The delayed processing of the requirements leading to the delayed installation of the mandatory representatives continues to be the biggest challenge of the intervention. Discussions during clinics were replete with the aforementioned issue instead of the experiences that they were supposed to have in participating in the legislative process. However, the project added pressure for the NCIP to speed-up the processing of the installation of mandatory representatives.
Protecting the Watershed Forest Reserves Through Legal Empowerment in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur
The efforts in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur were supported by the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE). The project’s first phase started in 2012 and ended in May 2013 while the follow through phase started on October 2013. The ultimate goal of the project is to protect the Cantilan Watershed. Presidential Proclamation 1747 proclaimed the Cantilan Watershed as protected area, being a part of the Mt. Hilong-Hilong Range, a Key Bio-diversity Area (KBA). Despite all these legal shields and despite the strong resistance from the community however, mining companies still managed to circumvent these legal hurdles, procuring mining permits in the process. Not even the novel Temporary Environment Protection Order (TEPO) issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cantilan ordering the company to cease its operation could stop the operation of Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation (MMDC).
The first project was designed to respond to the problem faced by the local community. The overarching strategy is to capacitate local stakeholders and advocates to be more effective in combating threats against the watershed. The intervention is divided into four (4) components namely (a) Paralegal Formation and Strengthening; (b) Local Policy Reform and Advocacy; (c) Constituency Building and Networking; and (d) Documentation.
The paralegal formation component produced 62 community-based advocates coming from the Manobo Tribe, the Farmer Irrigators, and the Fisherfolks went through advance paralegal training. Paralegals gained awareness on the social situation and its concrete manifestation to their lives, acquired knowledge on human rights and environmental laws, and learned skills on analyzing cases, negotiation and campaign management. Another result seen was the significant improvements on the organizational strength of their base organizations. These positive changes were recognized not only in their respective organizations or in the community but also in networks outside Cantilan. For instance, Mr. Elvie Arrubio, the President of the Cantilan Irrigation System Federation of Irrigators Association (CISFIA) and a paralegal, was elected as President of the Surigao Sur Irrigators Federation (SURIF) and Vice-President of the Federation of Irrigators Association of Caraga.
Aside from the 62 paralegals trained, 50 Social Action volunteers from the parishes of the Diocese of Tandag were given paralegal orientation and taught basic skills, especially in documentation which was identified as necessary in their advocacies.
On the Local Policy Reform and Advocacy component, proposed policies were identified with defined frameworks and features. There were two (2) policies identified so far: the regulation of the entry of large vessels into the municipal waters and to limit cargo vessels 15 kilometers off the coast of Cantilan. The second is the delineation of the areas where mining is prohibited under existing national policies.
On the aspect of campaign and mobilization, a series of mobilizations and mass activities were launch by and with the local coalition. Two mobilizations were launched at the Office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Caraga, a Forum on Eco-tourism and Agriculture and a Run for the Environment (SOS) in partnership of the local coalition.
The local coalition was formalized with defined bases of unity and set of principles. The strength of the coalition is very evident in the mobilizations launched. The membership also expanded to include advocates from the CarCanMadCarLanCor area.
On the component of Documentation, educational and inspirational materials were produced which can be used by other communities and advocates who are having similar advocacies. Three sets of materials were produced: the Process Documentation, the Paralegal Toolkit and the Campaign Video. During the project yearend assessment and planning, the stakeholders agreed that the intervention is worth continuing.
The second phase of the project was designed to sustain the gains and momentum of the previous intervention. The implementation was supposed to go full throttle starting October 2013 but some factors such as priorities of the target communities and the weather conditions delayed some activities. Community organizing is also one of the most challenging components having no local partner who can handle the task. The Social Action of the Vicarate of CarCanMadCarLanPar was considered to be tapped as the local partner to handle the community organizing tasks.
Improving Tenure and Access to Markets through Social Enterprise Legal Empowerment on Obligations and Contracts (SELECO) in Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental
As a response to the growing number of post Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) issues, BALAOD decided to embark on a program that will cater to the said issues. In order to protect the gains of agrarian reform, BALAOD launched the SELECO focused paralegal formation program which BALAOD offered to old partners with whom it had a partnership in paralegal formation. The partner communities identified were the peoples organizations from Area Specific Development Partnership (ASDP) in El Salvador and Alubijid, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, selected Katilingbanong Pamahandi sa Mindanaw Foundation Inc. (KPMFI) areas in Misamis Oriental and IP groups in PAMALIHI areas. A total of 63 community paralegals were trained under the SELECO program. The paralegals were made to assess their organizations’ capacities especially in financial and project management and decision making. Their assessment revealed flaws in these areas like the lack of feasibility studies before entering into project ventures. There was also a realization that there was lack of necessary knowledge in project management and systems which have to be installed. These systems include policy, financial and internal control systems.
Paralegals likewise expressed their need for knowledge in scrutinizing contracts. The concrete manifestation of this gap was the unfavorable arrangements and provisions stipulated in their past and existing contracts. To respond to this disadvantaged situation, BALAOD thoroughly discussed contracts and obligations and gave some valuable tips. The paralegals then formulated their plans, identifying steps and tactics to remedy the unfavorable provisions of their flawed contracts. Some of the issues identified by the paralegals are common and were related to existing policies of government and financial institutions. To accommodate these common concerns, a policy forum was held primarily to develop policy agenda recommendations which will be forwarded to legislative bodies and other government agencies. This served as a venue for paralegals and different government institutions for a dialogue with the end-goal of complementing the work everyone does. The output of the policy forum was a sustainability mechanism in itself as it hoped to institutionalize support services to the farmers and IPs.
The current development that shows how the paralegals address their issues and how they see themselves in the field of entrepreneurship is a step forward towards an even playing field for all business players.
Fast Tracking Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) of Agricultural Lands under CARPER in South Cotabato, Agusan Del Sur, Suriga0 Del Sur and Iloilo in partnership with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)
Agrarian Reform implementation, especially the Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) Component, is approaching its home stretch. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) pegged LAD, or at least for the land acquisition sub-component, to end in 2014, though President Aquino already made a commitment to complete Agrarian Reform up to 2016. The National LAD balance is still huge at more than eight hundred thousand hectares (800,000 has). Many of these landholdings are concentrated in few provinces.
Based on the common goal of completing the LAD within the timeframe of CARPER or within the term of President Aquino, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Paralegal Education Skills Advancement and Networking Technology (PESANTEch) agreed to jointly implement a community-based paralegal formation program for farmers in order to capacitate them so that they can be effective in assisting DAR fast-track the acquisition and distribution of agrarian reform lands. The high LAD provinces were considered as the target of the said project.
Phase 1 was implemented in 2012 covering the pilot provinces of Quezon 2, Camarines Sur, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Bukidnon and North Cotabato. Success stories and milestones were documented, and these successes and milestones served as an inspiration for the implementation of the Phase 2, which covered 12 provinces.
BALAOD Mindanaw, Inc. as part of (PESANTEch), along with SALIGAN and KAISAHAN was assigned to handle the provinces of Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur, South Cotabato and Iloilo. Agusan del Sur and South Cotabato were identified as focus provinces.
The components of the project include (1) Preparatory Meetings and Groundworking; (2) Paralegal Training on AR laws/Policies, Human Rights and Skills Enhancement; (3) Clinics and Tactic Sessions; and (4) Monitoring, Coordination and Project Assessment and Planning.
BALAOD participated in the provincial orientation and planning in Iloilo City, General Santos City for South Cotabato, and Butuan City for the provinces of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur. During the three orientation sessions, the local DAR committed to the joint endeavor. Joint plans were formulated for each of the four target provinces. The plans included the creation of the local implementing team, the identified target landholdings to be moved, the target participants, and the conduct of training needs assessment (TNA), the conduct of a paralegal training, additional research and profiling of the target landholdings.
A total of four (4) paralegal trainings were facilitated by BALAOD, in partnership with the DAR provincial offices of Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur, South Cotabato and Iloilo. The number of participants ranged from 35 to 40 participants. The training facilitated the formation of a paralegal core group for each of the target areas as a local mechanism to resolve their land problems. The paralegals acquired skills in legal research, legal interview, case analysis, documentation, evidence gathering and other specialized skills that will help fast track the resolution of land transfer. The knowledge and awareness of the paralegals significantly increased on the rules and procedures in CARP implementation, program beneficiary development in the context of agrarian reform and human rights and rural development. After each of the trainings, the paralegals formulated plans for each of the partner barangays, integrating the strategies to be employed in resolving priority LAD issues.
The succeeding activities scheduled for the clinic and tactic sessions were deferred due to some administrative concerns on the part of the DAR.
Continuing Legal Empowerment Intervention with the Bukidnon Higaonon Tribal Association (BUHITA)
The intervention with the communities of BUHITA is a continuation of the capacity development intervention of FPE and Alternative Law Groups (ALG). BALAOD was tapped as the resource provider, in behalf of the ALG, for BUHITA. A module on policy advocacy and lobbying was implemented for BUHITA during the year. The paralegals were equipped of the basic knowledge on advocacy, local legislation and lobbying. During the actual workshop, the issue on the agreement they had with the local government of Malaybalay City on the source of potable water emerged as most pressing and urgent. In response thereto, a tactic session was redesigned to prepare them for a dialogue on the issue.
By way of a background, BUHITA and the City of Malaybalay entered into a Memorandum of Agreement giving the former the permission to utilize the water source inside the domain of the latter. The MOA also provided for the social development assistance that the city government will provide for the tribe. After the review of the contract and the actual implementation of the social development provisions, the leadership of BUHITA complained that the provisions were not implemented. A dialogue was then set. Among the parties invited to the dialogue were the City Mayor, the NCIP provincial officer and the IP mandatory representative of Malaybalay. Only the NCIP and the IP mandatory representatives were present during the dialogue and though the issue raised was not answered fully, the experience of BUHITA in engaging government agencies and in asserting their claim on what are rightfully theirs will certainly help them in their future efforts.
- MAINSTREAMING ALTERNATIVE LAWYERING
The BALAOD program on Mainstreaming Alternative Lawyering (MAL) continued to be one of the core programs of BALAOD Mindanaw both as a stand-alone program and in support to BALAOD’s Paralegal Formation Program. Even without clear resources, BALAOD struggled to remain true to its mandate and advocacy and reflects the essence of the program – influencing the mainstream law practice with alternative lawyering.
As the name of the program suggests, BALAOD aims to mainstream alternative lawyering’s principles, systems, and values in the practice of legal profession. BALAOD seized opportunities and maximized its other engagements in the implementation of the program. These small victories reflect BALAOD efforts in mainstreaming alternative lawyering.
The best way to influence the law profession remains to be the implementation of a law students’ internship program. This is done through continued partnership with different law schools. Law students, through this program, are given opportunities to be exposed on different alternative lawyering work – from the conduct of trainings, advocacy to actual case handling.
With support from the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Fund (PTFCF) and the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) and in partnership with KAISAHAN and the Legal Rights and Natural Resources (LRC), BALAOD implemented a Summer Internship Program (SIP) with nine (9) law student-interns from three (3) law schools in North Mindanaw: Liceo de Cagayan University (LDCU), Xavier University (XU) and Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT). Also, BALAOD hosted one (1) intern from the Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC). The law interns gained first-hand exposure to the situations of marginalized communities being threatened by developmental projects like mining operations. They were also involved in the research and campaign for the stoppage of mining operations in Cantilan. Some worked on the issues and concerns of the Indigenous Peoples and farmers with respect to their rights on ancestral domains and agricultural lands. They were also exposed in the direct handling of cases by joining BALAOD staff during hearings and case consultations. Most importantly, they learned what alternative lawyering is and personally witnessed and learned how to work with the marginalized sectors and communities in promoting and defending their rights.
Moreover, after the SIP, BALAOD became one of the partners of the XU College of Law Continuing Legal Education Program (CLEP) and hosted four (4) students. These students were exposed to alternative lawyering work which included legal research, training and policy discussions.
Although there was a rather slow movement in most of cases which BALAOD handles, BALAOD maintained its way of case handling – working within the bounds of the law and using laws as tools to empower the poor and marginalized sectors, identities and local communities.
BALAOD continued handling 16 cases filed before the regular courts and administrative bodies (see attached list of cases for their nature and statuses). From these cases, six (6) cases had movements and developments.
BALAOD also continued implementing certain changes with respect to the administration of cases. As funding to most of these cases ceased to come from the usual NGO-partners, BALAOD started to ask for counterparts and additional resources from the partner-clients to cut the increasing administrative costs. Partner-clients willingly obliged.
BALAOD maintained its strategic partnership with different coalitions both in the national and local levels. As member of the ALG Council, BALAOD consistently and actively participated in different ALG initiatives, which included a General Assembly, a Council Meeting, an Endefense Assessment and other network wide discussions. BALAOD as one of the lead ALG members in implementing the ALG project on “Community-Based Human Rights Dialogue between the Security Sector and the Civil Society Organizations”, played an active part of the conduct of regional and provincial dialogues. One of the results of these dialogues in Region 10 was the formation of a loose network on human rights promotion and protection in the Province of Bukidnon which is called BANTULA. BANTULA is now a recognized network in the province as a convergence of human rights advocates.
As the Human Rights Dialogue Program continues, BALAOD assisted in organizing a follow-thru discussion on human rights promotion and protection in the region. The draft human rights education modules were presented to different stakeholders in Region 10.
BALAOD also remains as the nerve center/coordinator for Mindanaw for NGOs for Fisheries Reform (NFR), a coalition of NGOs working for fisheries issues. BALAOD actively participated and organized a Policy Review Session (PRS) on the reversion of abandoned, undeveloped and underutilized fishponds into mangroves forests held in Butuan City. This PRS resulted in the conduct of another workshop validating available data on abandoned, undeveloped and underutilized fishponds in the Caraga region.
With the lobbying of the National Land Use Bill thru CLUP Now!, BALAOD likewise actively participated in some strategic discussions in the national level and gave comments on some position papers formulated by the network. BALAOD likewise advocated for the passage of the bill in the local level by discussing its contents with its partners communities.
BALAOD was also active in national efforts to fast track the implementation of agrarian reform program, thru AR Now. It participated in some key discussions on agrarian reform issues and concerns particularly on the issue of the “deadline” as provided in RA 9700. BALAOD provided some insights on the position papers drafted by AR Now by giving comments through online discussion. Moreover, for the last quarter of the year, BALAOD became the direct partner of DAR in the implementation of the Paralegal Formation Project in the provinces of South Cotabato, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur and Iloilo.
BALAOD Mindanaw was able to sustain its visibility in the province of Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro City through its work with local agencies in the implementation of projects for indigenous peoples and BHWs in selected barangays. BALAOD was also active in the loose network for good governance for clean and honest May Local Elections. After the election, BALAOD renewed its accreditation the provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental and in the city of Cagayan de Oro. Likewise, BALAOD was also active in most activities organized by the church through the effort of Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro City.
With the project “Strengthening and Enhancement of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) Mandatory Representatives’ Capacity on Human Rights for Effective Participation in Local Governance”, BALAOD strengthened its partnership with the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Misamis Oriental and continued its engagement with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Region 10.
Policy Research and Advocacy
BALAOD remained visible on its advocacy thru the following proposed national and local policies:
- National Land Use Act (NLUA). As the proposed legislation was once again filed by BALAOD Board of Trustee Member Congresswoman Kaka Bag-ao before the Philippine Congress, BALAOD provided inputs on the updating of NLUA through CLUP Now! These inputs were integrated in the consolidated version of the proposed bill.
- Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) or the Philippine Mineral Resources Management Bill (PMRB). BALAOD participated AMMB Orientation and Training of Trainers (ToT) organized by the SAMDHANA Institute. BALAOD’s learnings during these sessions were relayed in the communities in Cantilan. Up to the writing of this report, stakeholders in Cantilan and nearby towns advocate for the AMMB and contribute in the lobbying of its passage. The Community Partners in Cantilan were able to express their support to the passage of AMMB during their month long picket in front of the regional MGB in Surigao City.
- Implementation of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) particularly on the provision of Mandatory Representation. BALAOD implemented a one-year project and gave capacity building to IP Mandatory Representatives of Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro City. BALAOD, with the support from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), organized a dialogue between IPs and the NCIP and DILG where the former had an opportunity to raise their concerns directly to the latter.
- Localizing Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10354). Even with the Supreme Court’s indifference in the implementation of the recently enacted RH Law, BALAOD continued its advocacy on women’s rights, particularly their reproductive health rights. BALAOD is currently implementing a project focused on women’s reproductive health in the 12 barangays in the Municipality of Opol, Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro City. Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) and the Mangunguyamo (local hilots) were tapped and trained to help them in the performance of their functions and helped them maximize their influence in their barangays in promoting women’s right to reproductive health.
As integrated in the implementation of BALAOD projects, the following publications and documentations were produced for 2013 to share BALAOD best practices to other like-minded groups for them to replicate in other areas in the Philippines.
- “Protecting the Watershed Forest Reserves through Legal Empowerment: Legal Strategy in Combating Threats to Biodiversity” which showcased the process of the implementation of the BALAOD project in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur with the support of the Foundation for the Environment (FPE)– from social preparation to the actual conduct of the Pa