Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Human Security in Violent Conflict Situations: The Case of Bondoc Peninsula (Third World Studies Center Policy Dialogue Series 2006)

03 October 2006 (Tuesday) 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Balay Kalinaw University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City


Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
College of Social Science and Philosophy
University of the Philippines-Diliman

Land Tenure Improvement Program Coordinator
PEACE Foundation

Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer

Associate Professor
Asian Center
University of the Philippines-Diliman


The prominence gained by human security has prompted not only the rethinking of the concept of “security,” but also how human security is operationalized in various contexts. In the Philippines, the state and society in general are yet to acknowledge the inadequacies of the national security framework, and agree to a precise and contextual definition of the elusive concept of human security, which supposedly offers an alternative to the prevailing ideology. It is in this context that the TWSC Policy Dialogue Series 2006 specifically aims to define human security, taking into consideration the existing development and national security framework, from which stems the country’s policy responses to peace building and conflict resolution.

In the three previous sessions of the Policy Dialogue Series, human security was viewed in light of issues surrounding development, governance, and culture. The first installment, which attempted to locate human security in the development blueprint of the state, found the nexus in the impact of development activities, as well as the structures, laws, and policies governing economic activities in the country to local communities. The discussion highlighted the debate on environmental and community security versus economic security of the community, on one level, and the national government, on another level. The governance dimension of human security was the focus during the second session of the series. Local governance placed emphasis not only on the provision of basic social services as a means of promoting and safeguarding human security but more importantly on the involvement of multiple of actors in determining and directing local development. For the third part of the series, human security was examined in the context of a community defined by its culture. The discussion highlighted that while human security may be defined and understood differently among cultural communities, this is hinged on the recognition of and respect for collective decisionmaking in internal or external processes that impact these communities.

As can be drawn from the three previous discussions, insecurity stems from the incursion of development activities into communities and the failure to exercise inclusive governance. This uncertainty then creates a situation where inadequacy in entitlements leads to conflict over ownership and control of resources. The case of Bondoc Peninsula in the province of Quezon exemplifies the complex nature of “securing” human security in the context of conflict and emergency situations. A former stronghold of the New People’s Army (NPA), ownership and access to land is a crucial issue that defined the lives of the people for many years now. In the perilous pursuit for land, farmers have organized themselves to avail of the government’s agrarian reform program when the agrarian revolution promised by the communist party and its armed component faltered. During the watch of then-Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Horacio Morales, some lands have been awarded to farmer beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). This, however, is only the beginning of yet another struggle as landlords’ goons harassed farmer beneficiaries with trumped up charges of theft and other petty crimes while the NPA exacted revolutionary taxes from both landlords and farmers. Collusion between landowners and local government officials, and allegedly between landowners and the NPA, which led to gross violation of human rights, has been recorded extensively by the media, non-government organizations (NGOs) and solidarity groups working in the area. These circumstances bring about the intensification of violent conflict over control of the area, leaving peasants in the middle of the crossfire and their struggle for land unsettled. The interplay among various interests–that of landlords, peasants, civil society organizations, and state and non-state armed groups–in the peninsula exacted the high price of local peasant leaders’ lives and livelihoods of thousands of farming households, creating a multidimensional insecurity in the area.


The fourth installment of the TWSC PDS 2006 seeks to understand the nature, processes, and mechanics of promoting human security in the context of violent conflict situations.


  1. How do we define human security in situations where escalation of violent conflict persists?
  2. What role can both state and non-state actor play in such contexts?
  3. What processes are necessary to ensure that human security is protected in such instances?
  4. What policies and mechanisms should be crafted to promote and protect human security in circumstances where violent conflict intensifies?


HERMAN JOSEPH KRAFT (Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy [CSSP], University of the Philippines [UP]-Diliman):

Human security is a very popular term nowadays. It is one of the buzzwords domestically and internationally. If you really consider it though, human security is vague at best, and meaningless at worst. It means quite a lot of things to people in different contexts. As such, it is almost rendered empty. If it does not mean anything, then why discuss human security? It is because the concept still has value.

I will start by tracing the development of the idea and then proceed to explaining why, inspite of its many meanings–and therefore the difficulty in understanding it–human security still has value. Hence, we should consider it as a framework for security. It is actually being considered as the main alternative to traditional or mainstream conceptions of security. Finally, I will take a look at the concept of human security in terms of how it can be applied as a policy framework in a situation of escalating violence. We are not talking of human security in terms of preventive measures, but in terms of addressing conflict. How does the concept of security become applicable in this situation?

Human security was publicly introduced with the release of the United Nations (UN) Human Development Report (HDR) of 1994. It defined human security as safety from chronic threats–hunger, disease, repression, and sudden and hurtful disruptions to the everyday lives of people. Why was it introduced in the first place? I think almost all of us can actually relate to the early 1990s. During this period, the Cold War ended, causing a sudden change in the international arena. The Cold War was significant in that the international system was dominated by the conflict between the United States (US) and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR) over the idea of nuclear balance. Hence, the discourse on security, and much of the security framework utilized was all about the military. Everybody was talking about the number of tanks the US had, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Warsaw Pact, and so on.

With the end of the Cold War, the discourse did not seem appropriate anymore. Why talk about nuclear balance when the rivalry was theoretically over? In fact, one of the things that people were discussing then was the idea of a peace dividend. Since there was no longer any conflict between the US and the USSR, the shifting of resources was deemed possible–from making weapons and arsenals to peacebuilding, from traditional guns to butter, among others. There was a decrease in spending for the military, and allocation of a bigger budget for growing needs of the people. This shifted the thinking from national security to human security.

The human security discourse became dominant in the UN since 1994. Basically, it is the human aspect of security. For instance, the UN Independent Commission on Good Governance began talking about an aspect of good governance, which is the reduction of the human cost of conflict. This was in 1995, during the war in the Balkans and the massacre in Rwanda. These cases actually portrayed the human costs of violent conflicts. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, for instance, the lives of ordinary people were disrupted as they were caught in the middle of the fight between the Serbs and Croats. The death toll was high, as was the number of internally displaced people or refugees. We saw this in Rwanda, where the Hutus did not have any qualms killing hundreds of thousands of Tutsis.

Human security shifts the object of security from the nation-state to the people. Whose security? Whose interests? Whose protection? Although the national security perspective already covers everyone, human security tries to be more specific. The human person could mean the individual, the group, the community, or even the nation-state.

In 2000, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan delivered a speech in which, taking off from the 1994 UN HDR, he basically reduced human security to three: freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom for future generations to sustain their lives in this planet. This is actually a very interesting way of presenting human security. He defines it in terms of being free from whatever might threaten a human being. Aside from UN’s characterization of the concept, some governments, including those of Canada, Japan, and Norway, presented a sense of what human security means. Of course, when you talk to nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that are involved in human security issues, they also have their own understanding of the concept. But what is common to all of them is the idea that security should pertain to the human person.

What can be included in human security? The UN HDR talked about security in seven areas: (1) economic, (2) environmental, (3) personal, (4) community, (5) political, (6) health, and (7) food. Annan introduced the concept of freedom into the discourse. What is the danger here? If you think about it, what we are talking about is a very expansive meaning of security. Some scholars say this is wrong. Social scientists like me, for instance, want to be precise about terms. When you have a term that refers to a broad range of concerns, you are basically saying that human security means everything, and therefore, means nothing.

A lot of criticisms of human security actually come from this. If we think about it though, the issue is merely conceptual and concerns people from the academe like me. In reality, human security has no conceptual precision. Its value is in the idea that anything that concerns us can basically be considered a security issue. Human security could be treated as an organizing concept, which, because of its various meanings to different people, would allow us to mobilize support. Its importance, therefore, lies in its political implications. You can rally people around the notion of human security simply because it is easy for us to identify with the idea. It involves our own concerns as individuals.

The third thing that might be important about human security is the psychological dimension, which also adds to its mobilizing capacity. This is what we refer to as “securitization.” We now consider issues we normally do not include within the ambit of security as security. For instance, when we talk of development, we usually associate it with the economy, or the peoples’ livelihood. In this regard, we consider a situation where livelihood is threatened a security issue, like when the farmlands are turned into a battlefield. Such threat has a psychological effect. Thus, when a security issue is identified, it is accorded with a certain amount of urgency; it becomes a priority.

Other than the conceptual problem, practical issues also surface when we talk about such an expansive notion of security. The main issue here is the people’s understanding of security. The term is often associated with a particular institution in society–the military and the police. The question, therefore, is: If we are going to use human security as a policy framework, and its meaning includes so many things, are we saying that there is a need to expand the mandate of institutions, which are traditionally responsible for security, to cover all of these concerns? Do we want the military to be involved in health as a security issue?

In the 1990s, after the Cold War, environment was one of the issues that became a security concern because of the greenhouse effect. One of the things the military did was to organize so-called “green battalions” that would be responsible for protecting forest areas, catching illegal loggers, among others. Do we want this done in other areas, such as food? Another way of putting it is to ask the question: Who is responsible for human security? If it is the state, which institutions are responsible? These are some policy implications when you talk about an all-encompassing definition of security.

What is interesting about human security is that it deals with prevention, to minimize vulnerabilities and to ensure that certain threats do not escalate. But the context of our discussion this afternoon is the existence of violent conflict, the intensification of which has already happened. How do we look at human security then?

First, we have to assess the situation, particularly at what stage or phase of the conflict. What kind of insecurities are the people facing? The most obvious would be displacement. Who provides for the everyday necessities–food, shelter, medicines–of the refugees? Are they ever going back to their homes? What can de done? What should be the policy response?

Consensus is built around peace as a desirable end. The people themselves undertake this because in most cases, neither side is willing to give in. Once consensus is formed, a coalition is created to organize support for it. If a conflict persists, the goal is to de-escalate violence and its human costs. Furthermore, human security emphasizes the notion of soft, instead of hard, power–persuasion and dialogue, rather than the use of force.

In sum, I would like to reiterate that human security is a very expansive concept and this has several policy implications. Who is responsible for it? Because of its breadth, no single institution can be considered as having the capacity to actually oversee its policy implementation. It is therefore the society’s purview, not just the state’s.

Danny Carranza (Land Tenure Improvement Program Coordinator, PEACE Foundation, Inc.):

In our work at the Bondoc Peninsula, the framework that we use is agrarian justice. People are directly mobilized and organized around the issue of the right to own the lands that they till. I would like to narrow down the concept of human security by discussing the situation of farmers. First, I would like to give you a background of the conflict. The struggle for land ensued since the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) 19 years ago. Recently, it became violent.

In the three biggest haciendas in the Bondoc Peninsula, the landlords and the tenants share the land based on a 60-40 arrangement. This is, of course, against the law, but the situation persists. Most of the 12,000 tenants live in abject poverty. Most of them could not even vote, and even if they could, the landowners would dictate upon them. Often, they are not given their share of the earnings. There is inadequate delivery of social services. Schools are far and health service providers hardly reach them. In the past, these tenants were not organized. Community organizing started in the mid-1990s. Part of the role that civil society organizations played was to inform these people about their human rights.

An important actor in the conflict situation in the Bondoc Peninsula is the “armed left movement,” specifically, the New People’s Army (NPA). The NPA claims to represent the interests of the oppressed, but in reality, the NPA has chosen to side with the landlords. We notice three important factors as to why this is the case. First, the NPA wants to ensure that it is able to exercise control over its territory. They want no other group to reign and that all of us within the territory adhere to their rules. Second, they want political and ideological dominance, using the concept of revolutionary agrarian reform. The NPA thinks that this should be implemented, rather than the CARP. Lastly, the NPA seeks to protect its economic base through the extortion of revolutionary tax. This is collected both from the landowners and the farmers. Since the farmers chose to be politically autonomous, the NPA treats them as enemies. Farmers make sure that the agrarian reform law is implemented to protect their source of livelihood and to save their lives from the NPA.

The NPA cannot prevent the growth of farmers’ organizations that do not share its ideology. As such, it has resorted to harassment and violence. The group has issued death sentences to the leaders. Four farmers have been killed, three by private armies of landlords and one by the NPA. Families have been threatened; some were physically assaulted.

Another thing that complicates the situation is the use of the legal system by the landowners. Farmers are fearful of landowners filing criminal cases against them. They hide from authorities even if there is no warrant of arrest yet. Just the thought of someone pressing charges against them is enough to make them disappear like fugitives. They also do not have money to pay for bail bonds. Since 1996, almost 300 tenants have been imprisoned. More than 200 criminal cases have been filed against more than 200 farmers. From 12 June 2006 to 8 September 2006, 93 families have been living like prisoners. About 68 families have been adopted by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to avoid imprisonment.

These are some of the issues in the Bondoc Peninsula that cause human insecurity. How do we define human security then? For us, human security is inseparable with the struggle for land. For as long as farmers do not have access and control of these lands, they can be easily manipulated by the landowners and politicians. Also, when you refer to human security in the context of violence, it should be about keeping the people alive. How can you be secure if your life is threatened, or worse, if you are dead? What is the value of land if you are not alive? Second, human security should be about freedom for the farmers, in which they can act freely, go wherever they want, and organize themselves. Third is to ensure that they have livelihoods. How can they farm when they are harassed, extorted, and threatened? Human security means addressing threats to life, freedom, and livelihood.

At the same time, human security should also recognize the pressing needs of the people in the most dismal situations. Refugees are in the most vulnerable state. They should not be harassed any further. They should no longer feel insecurity. It should be ensured that they are provided utmost protection in their temporary shelters. They should be kept alive in these evacuation centers.

What are the roles of the different actors? Non-state actors (NSAs) can help by providing legal support. This is very important because landowners have continuously used the laws and the courts to oppress farmers. The conditions of the farmers will worsen if the landowners continue to do this. Also, NSAs should help mobilize support for the claims and demands of the farmers and make sure that these are heard by the public, the media, and government. Third, they should also guarantee that basic services are provided. Finally, they should address the issue of accountability. Of course, not all non-state actors are able to help. Some are sources of insecurities.

The role of state actors is clear and obvious–to provide physical protection and meet their basic needs. For example, a military detachment was set up in one of the communities in the Bondoc Peninsula.

Who is responsible for the plight of the farmers? It is much easier to extract accountability from the government rather than the NPA. Perhaps, if the NPA’s actions are made public and judged by Philippine society and the international community, its leaders can be made responsible.

What are the processes and mechanisms needed to promote human security? It is important to recognize and expose the threats to call the attention of the agency responsible. Available spaces should be maximized. The Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) between the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) should also be explored even though they do not function effectively.

The functions of the JMC should be re-examined. There was an instance when, instead of investigating the filed complaint, JMC produced evidence linking the farmer to the military or the barangay (village) intelligence network. The farmer’s situation worsened. In relation to this, the NDF’s concept of revolutionary justice should be looked into. The farmers of the Bondoc Peninsula were the first to file cases in the JMC. This triggered the group of Jose Maria Sison and Roger Rosal to create black propaganda against the farmers.

Constructive engagement with the government is important. This should be undertaken in the monitoring of the conflict situation, filing of grievance and complaints, delivery of aid and relief, and access to decision makers at the capital. For example, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process created an inter-agency committee. In our case, the DAR established a Task Force on the Bondoc Peninsula.

ALEJANDRO CRUZ (Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer, Department of Agrarian Reform-Quezon):

The DAR Provincial Office in Quezon covers 22 towns. Ten of those are in Lamon Bay and 12 are in the Bondoc Peninsula, from the town of Padre Burgos down to San Francisco and San Andres. Out of these 12 towns, only five are having serious problems with the implementation of CARP. These are Buenavista, San Narcisco, San Francisco, San Andres, and Mulanay, where the big haciendas are located. There is a total of 40,246 hectares of farmlands in the Bondoc Peninsula. As of September 2006, we have already distributed 31,911 hectares or 78 percent of the total land for distribution to 19,450 beneficiaries. In places where the CARP is peacefully implemented, DAR continues to give support services and ensure the sustainability of the distributed lands. We have projects with the World Bank such as the Agrarian Reform Community Development and Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support to help the farmers settle in their respective areas. The problem lies with the remaining 22 percent.

As expected, the landowners are claiming that their lands should not be part of CARP because these are pasture lands and are therefore not covered by the law. They say that because of the peace and order situation, they were forced to remove their cows, enabling the farmers to plant corn and coconut. Is it a criminal offense to cultivate idle lands? Unfortunately, the landowners hire the best lawyers and their cases have reached the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. They have even approached the Office of the President, hoping that it would intervene. Waiting for the pending complaints to be resolved stalls documentation and coverage. This impedes the program in the long run. The cases range from estafa to qualified theft. Even DAR officers have been charged with trespassing and malicious mischief. Luckily for the farmers, they have the Agrarian Justice Foundation to bail them out if they get arrested. But who will provide bail to DAR officials, or the police and military, when they are taken into custody due to charges related to their job of implementing CARP? In addition, there is another group that makes the realization of CARP even more complicated. It does not believe that CARP is a legitimate program and based on the initial investigation, it seems that it is on the side of the landowners. These are issues that we also need to consider.

Political will already seems to be lost. You probably heard from the news that Bondoc Peninsula is a hotbed for insurgency. It is because of agrarian unrest. We try to properly implement CARP at the local level, but our decisions and actions are overturned by the national government due to the lobbying efforts of landowners at the capital. How can we distribute lands when there is harassment and conflict? If we don’t do our job, what do we tell the farmers–that government units like us at the provincial level cannot do anything about the situation?

What can the government do as a state actor? Government functionaries and institutions should get their acts together and perform their mandated tasks. They should also coordinate with each other. The role of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) is to secure the area and to maintain peace and order while the DAR is concerned with land distribution, delivery of support services and agrarian justice, and legal assistance. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources classifies public lands. On the other hand, the Department of Agriculture provides for adaptive farming technology, while the Department of Trade and Industry is for agricultural enterprise development. Health and education as well as basic social services should also be included. There should be mechanisms for feedback and continued dialogue with residents as well.

What can NSAs do? First, exert continuous pressure at the top level, particularly with the executive branch. Second, and in relation to the first, non-state actors should advocate policies and programs that are rooted in the communities and barangays. It is said that programs are already boxed in when the budget is planned and approved by the national government. Indeed, not all programs created at the top level of government are suitable to the needs of the communities. This leads us to the third point. Opportunities for increased participation of people in the creation of projects, such as consultations, should be created. This would enable government to know what kind of intervention should be prioritized or created, which, in effect, hastening implementation. Most of all, setting up mechanisms for participation is important to give farmers a sense of ownership over the land, and control over the fate of their families and communities.


DIOSCORO TIJNO (Farmer Leader, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bondoc Peninsula, San Narciso, Quezon):

I want to attest to what our companion from the PEACE Foundation, Inc. shared with us regarding the harassment of goons and the NPA. I am currently under the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice. I am the first person to file a case in the JMC.

I would like to appeal to the military to protect us. We are innocent farmers who simply benefited from the proper implementation of the CARP. These goons and the NPA do not want us to support the government, but we are not taking sides. They threatened us and killed some of our companions. I was supposed to be gunned down but fortunately I was able to escape.

We cannot go back to our former lives and our farmlands anymore. Both the landowners and the NPA have seized our lands. The small farmers cannot fight these people. In truth, we really do not care about the conflict between the government and the NPA. We just want to get our lives back. Do we not have the right to live?

LT. COL. RHODERICK PARAYNO (Southern Luzon Command, AFP):

Although Mr. Tijno’s question is generally addressed to the government, it appears that he was actually referring to the AFP because the NPA was included. I know that he somehow feels that he has nowhere else to go and cannot depend on the government. I would like to address his concern, but first, I would like to ask Mr. Tijno: Have you informed the AFP representative–in this case, the 74th Infantry Battalion–about your case? The problem is, it will be taken up as an individual case and, therefore, a police matter.

It is difficult for the military to intervene in individual cases. If a case is reported to us, we will treat that initially as an information report. Then we will work with the PNP and try to establish the presence of the NPA in that area. These cases remain a concern of the police unless it is clear that the NPA is involved. Since they appear to be unarmed, we cannot assume that they are NPA members until they start firing. That is why we cannot respond to mere reports in a manner that you would want us to.

But I can assure you that we will work with you. If you inform us about your problems, we can assign intelligence officers to establish the presence of NPAs and organize facts. We are also appealing for your assistance. If you are afraid or embarrassed to ask for help in that area, then you can go directly to the AFP General Headquarters.

JOBOY REYES (Quezon Advocates on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development Service):

My concern is on the security of women and children. When a farmer is charged and arrested, the wives and children are directly affected. They experience mental torture because they think that it is the police who would save them from the landlords’ goons and the NPA. The goons, together with their police allies, use different forms of harassment. Meanwhile, the NPA would go to the barrios, to areas where the children are playing. Now what if the military arrives?

FRANCISCO VIBAL (San Jose Sanctuary for Peace and Sustainable Development):

The situation in the Bondoc Peninsula is somehow similar to ours in Tarlac. That is why we also opted to have a local peace process in our area.

The idea of human security in situations of escalating violent conflict is actually a paradox. How can there be security for us? If we side with the left, we are going to be killed by the military. If we go with the military, we are going to be blacklisted by the NPA. We are in a quandary as to what we are going to do. Meanwhile, this ideological conflict is affecting the communities. I believe that no state could provide us with total security and I am challenging any political scientist who says otherwise.

The processes that are necessary to ensure human security is actually based on the people. If we do not act, nothing will happen. In our case, we are aided by religious organizations and cultural workers. We also appeal to members of the military and the NPA to refrain from engaging in conflict in our area. We have more important things to take care of. For instance, there is one barangay that has problems with the environment and natural disasters. The situation needs our immediate attention.

The policies and mechanisms to promote and protect human security should be context-specific. You can only define human security based on the situation on the ground. Every locality has it own threats and concerns. Although the case of Bondoc Peninsula may be the same as ours–agrarian conflict–the same formula cannot be applied to other cases. Every case is unique. Maybe we need a different approach in crafting policies and mechanisms to address conflict.

We are wondering why a few powerful groups reign in our town, given that the residents comprise majority of the population. We are around 30,000 in the community, while the NPA is less than 100 in number. The AFP does not even have a military detachment. What if we arm ourselves? My point is that, these groups, which are relatively small in number, should not determine the decisions and outcomes of our towns.

ROSSELYNN JAE DE LA CRUZ (Lawyer, Akbayan/PEACE Foundation, Inc.):

I would like to underscore another threat to human security that is less dramatic than the NPA and its form of revolutionary justice. For me, it is really the existence of a structure that allows players to commit such brazen oppression against the farmers and still not violate any law.

The cases filed against the farmers are on qualified theft. Under the Revised Penal Code, it is higher than theft because there is a bigger penalty for stealing coconuts. It is really difficult to imagine a more controversial law than qualified theft. We receive counter-affidavits saying that the farmers violated the law for stealing coconuts from lands they do not own. But they planted these coconuts! What do you do in a system like this? It is not enough to have dialogues or implementing the laws. We have to rethink how the law is structured in the first place.

PRUDENCIO MAXINO (Mayor, Municipality of Mulanay):

Conflict in the Bondoc Peninsula is intense. I have already voiced my idea that there should be an investigation without involving the police and the military. If they are part of the investigation, they have a tendency to assume that everybody is guilty. There is an analogy to this: when you discipline your child, do not spank him or her if you are still mad. If the military has just been in an encounter, its members will probably behave improperly. In our town, a lot of people are pressed with charges by the military. But it is not the military’s fault because the charges are based on reports made by several people. The courts eventually dismissed these cases after one or two months. By then, the people have already suffered immensely.

The judicial process is not functioning effectively. Figuratively, there is only one and a half judge for twelve towns in the Bondoc Peninsula. There are actually two, but the other one is assigned to another area. This practice can be traced to the colonial times. Town judges were called juez de paz or judge of peace. They are not actually judges, but have found a way to perform judicial functions that cannot be done because of circumstances. For so many years, we have had committee hearings in order to have a regional trial court in Tanauan, but to no avail.

The landowners also have grievances against the government. They cannot do anything about their lands due to the slow judicial process. In Mulanay, the municipal government assigned responsibilities to leftist groups within the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan program.

The landowners handle the finances and oversee transactions. They contribute to the community’s development. As such, they are very concerned about the situation.


I would like to react to what was said earlier regarding instances when the police or the military appears to be mad. For the information of everyone, now, the police officers are smiling when they conduct investigations because of their training on police-community relations, human rights, and proper conduct toward women and children. We even have police officers with law degrees who are in the forefront of investigations.


What is the role of the third parties in the case of the conflict in Bondoc Peninsula?


We tried having third parties as mediators of the conflict. Through the JMC, it is possible to engage the two parties in dialogue–the GRP and the NDF. But NDF released a form of propaganda on its website which ruined the reputation of the farmers that are not on their side. Worse, there appears to be no effort to investigate the validity of the complaints of these farmers. The JMC does not really function in this case. Rather, it has become a mechanism to spread propaganda. This is the reason the farmers have given up on the JMC.

The problem is the attitude of these third party facilitators that we are supposed to engage. Party-List Representative Satur Ocampo mentioned that he can serve but we hardly hear him speak. He did go to the farmers. He wrote a letter that was burned by the NPA when they attacked the town. There is no more evidence to show that the farmers asked for the help of Satur Ocampo. We even expressed our concerns to the Parliament of the Netherlands. But there has been no positive outcome.

The Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice can be a temporary security measure that can provide the farmers with food, shelter, and financial support. But the farmers would never be totally free from insecurities as long as they are advocating agrarian reform.

How we look at human security varies since we also interpret our situations and the realities differently. The NPA and the farmers have different perspectives regarding solutions to poverty. As such, the NPA treats the farmers as enemies.

ANA ELZY OFRENEO (Director, Commission on Human Rights):

The investigation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is limited to monitoring. I would like to distinguish between investigation for prosecution and for monitoring purposes. The CHR has a watchdog function. It monitors the different institutions of the state to see if they are able to uphold their obligations based on agreements on human rights such as the International Convention on Human Rights.

There are situations that were not included in the panel discussion. I think that the conflict is not just the problem. Natural disasters like typhoons are also a threat to people’s security. Human security, therefore, is the reduction of the sources of fear and the progressive provision of an environment that satisfies the needs and wants of human beings.

Both state and non-state actors have roles to play in the promotion of human security. The question is how to make them work together towards a common goal. Safeguards have to be in place to prevent the further escalation of conflict. The UN has guiding principles for internally displaced persons. What policies and mechanisms should be crafted to promote and protect human security in circumstances when violent conflict intensifies? To address this issue, I would like to propose a mechanism of the Commission, which is the National Human Rights Volunteer Program.


The security situation in the Bondoc Peninsula is complicated. We need to trace the root of this conflict. In my view, the problem emanates from the issue of who should control the resources.


The UN tried to make the broad concept of human security clearer. The Commission on Human Security concluded that human security is based on how people perceive their particular situations. However, we still have to identify who should bear the responsibility for human security.

Earlier, our companion from Tarlac challenged social scientists who believe that the state can protect all aspects of the life of a human being. I will not argue with him because he is right. But what he said is also important. This means that we cannot just leave the issue of human security to one institution.

The state can provide some protection; that is what we expect from it. But we also need all the sectors and the people themselves to secure our needs. How do we do that? The answers depend on the situation on the ground.

EDUARDO TADEM (Associate Professor, Asian Center, UP-Diliman):

Professor Kraft started the dialogue by giving us a background on human security. Broadly defined, it is when an individual or a group of persons become the object that has to be protected. The UN Secretary General also gave his own definition which is freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom from future generations to sustain their lives.

The various issues and concerns raised prove that there is still no agreement on the meaning of human security. For example, human security is defined as what is threatening for a person. As such, this concept appears to be very broad. The meaning seems to have been lost.

Human security has political implications; the concept can be used to organize people and to mobilize their support. It also has psychological importance because if we associate an issue as part of human security, people in power will be obliged to respond immediately because it is deemed as having a sense of urgency.

Human security need not have a precise or exact definition. What is important is what it means to the people.


The data and insights in this brief are based, in whole or in part, from the proceedings of the forum on Human Security in Violent Conflict Situations (Balay Kalinaw, University of the Philippines, Diliman, 03 October 2006), the fourth installment in the Third World Studies Center’s Policy Dialogue Series 2006: Toward s a Human Security Framework. This brief was prepared by Sharon M. Quinsaat, University Researcher, Third World Studies Center, University of the Philippines-Diliman with the assistance of Benjie DC Zabala, Project Assistant of the Policy Dialogue Series 2006.

Reforming the Joint Monitoring Committee

The Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) is the first of four substantive agenda on the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF). The implementation of the agreement, signed in 1998, has been stalled for several reasons, the most pressing of which is the question—and recognition of—two sovereignties in some of the Agreement’s provisions. This sensitive issue has been raised several times. The common argument is that by granting the CPP-NPA-NDF the right to prosecute human rights violators, the political authority of the Philippine government, enshrined in the Constitution, is undermined.

Finally, in April 2004, both parties agreed to operationalize the CARHRIHL with the formation of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC). As of August 2004, more than 100 complaints of human rights violations have already been filed against the GRP in the JMC, while five cases were lodged against the NDFP, particularly the NPA. However, the JMC being an interim body tasked only with receiving and investigating reports or complaints of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as initiating recommendations or requests for the implementation of the CARHRIHL, has no executory powers and operates on consensus, which could be debilitating. It should be clear that the JMC is a monitoring body, not an implementing one.

While the setting up of the JMC is a welcome development, the full realization of CARHRIHL is still contingent upon the sincerity of both parties to the agreement. There are apprehensions that the CARHRIHL is still at the mercy of the peace process, such that new tensions or disagreements between the two parties in issues like the terrorist-listing of the CPP-NPA and Jose Ma. Sison or the next agenda of the peace negotiations—social and economic reforms—will hamper the agreement’s implementation.

CARHRIHL is generally viewed as a peacebuilding tool or a “measure of goodwill and confidence-building to create a favorable climate for peace negotiations” in the language of the Hague Joint Declaration of 1992. As a result, the implementation is held hostage by the constant wrangling and realpolitik of the two parties leading to unremitting suspension of talks. The talk-and-fight mode of peace negotiations has at least produced CARHRIHL, but can the modalities of the agreement be disengaged from the vagaries of conflict or the pursuit of peace? It seems that both parties are contented with the inking of CARHRIHL but the carrying out, just like the peace talks, remains a cul-de-sac.

In their study “Breaking ground on bloody ground: A legal inquiry into the CARHRIHL between the GRP and the NDF,” Rosselynn Jaye dela Cruz, a lawyer for the Bondoc farmers, and Rachel Anne Sibugan suggested that “if full benefit is to be derived from the CARHRIHL then it is imperative that it be viewed independent[ly] of the peace agenda” (delaCruz and Sibugan in Garcia 2006). It must be, first and foremost, an instrument to seek and exact accountability from the Philippine government, particularly its armed forces, and the CPP-NPA-NDF on the application of the principles of human rights and the principles of international humanitarian law in the context of armed conflict. Besides, just like the Geneva Conventions and the Protocols thereafter, CARHRIHL was forged to “humanize” the conflict by mitigating the violence on the ground.

The question to ask now is: how can the JMC respond to complex political emergencies such as the case of the Bondoc Peninsula if, in the first place, it has no teeth? All the JMC can do is deliberate on a filed complaint, try to reach a consensus, and then throw it to the “party concerned” for further investigation (Garcia 2006). If the rights of the farmers are abused by both the military and the rebels, how can we implement provisions of CARHRIHL, and not merely monitor violations? With all the inadequacies, flaws, and inefficiencies in the Philippine judicial system, at least it operates legally and openly. If the agencies are unresponsive, there are procedures to hold them accountable.

What are the NDFP’s implementing mechanisms of the CARHRIHL? These must be clarified. As human rights lawyer Soliman Santos Jr. argues,

…there should be at least some fair idea of NDFP implementing mechanisms without prejudicing its security. This need for a fair idea may be even greater when it comes to the NDFP side of investigation, prosecution and trial of persons liable for violations of HR and IHL. This means having a better idea of the judicial system (both its substantive and procedural aspects) of the NDFP or what it calls the “people’s democratic government” so that complainant victims of HR or IHL violations would know how to lodge, monitor and follow up their cases in that system, if they prefer. Since the NDFP binds itself through the CARHRIHL to be accountable for HR and IHL violations by its forces, the people or at least concerned people have the right to know the NDFP’s accountability mechanisms beyond the JMC. (Santos 2004)

There are structural limitations of the JMC. An Achilles’ heel is the principle of consensus, which is almost impossible to achieve when the two camps are antagonistic to each other. It is a formula for deadlock, especially if the parties are not cooperating to address the needs of the complainants, and instead protecting their respective interests. This was demonstrated by how both the Philippine government and the CPP-NPA-NDF used the JMC to disseminate their propaganda on the Bondoc case. Danny Carranza of the PEACE Foundation shares the experience of the farmers:

…there appears to be no effort to investigate the validity of the complaints… the JMC did not function effectively as expected. That’s the reason farmers do not push through with their complaints because they think that nothing good will ever come of it. Instead, it would just contribute to increasing the propaganda of the Left against them. (TWSC and UNDP 2006)

The two observers from human rights organizations for each party could partly remedy the impasse, but this is predicated on their independence, which may be questionable if they were handpicked and appointed by the GRP and CPP-NPA-NDF.

The JMC is also drowned by complaints which are not connected, in any way, with the armed conflict between the GRP and the CPP-NPA-NDF. These include demolitions of urban poor communities, labor disputes, and validity of tax ordinance. Some are not even covered by the date of effectivity of the CARHRIHL since the incident happened before August 7, 1998. Both camps should attempt to further educate the public on CARHRIHL and the role of the JMC.

The JMC is a big step as far as the peace negotiation between the GRP and CPP-NPA-NDF is concerned, but as the experience of the farmers of Bondoc Peninsula has shown, it is not enough. If the JMC is mired in the politics of the negotiation, then the pursuit of human rights will be as elusive as that of peace. If the JMC does not wield power and is confined to an investigative organization, then like the Commission on Human Rights, it will just be another bureaucratic agency.

Finally, while working towards taking greater accountability from both the GRP and the CPP-NPA-NDF through the strengthening of the JMC, the government and its instrumentalities must provide for solutions to the impending needs of the people on the ground. The Task Force Bondoc Peninsula of the Bondoc Inter-Agency Committee (IAC), lodged at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process should function as both governance, and relief and rehabilitation mechanism. This would entail, on the one hand, the constitution of the IAC beyond being an ad hoc body and on the other, delegating the necessary powers to muster resources for the concerns of the people in the Bondoc Peninsula.


Garcia, Robert Francis. 2006. Perspectives: Will an agreement on respect for human rights and international humanitarian law forged between governments and nonstate actors promote human security?. Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 21(1): 189-195.

Santos, Soliman Jr. 2004. Having a CARHRIHL and implementing it too. Available from Accessed 8 December 2006.

Third World Studies Center (TWSC) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP). 2006. Proceedings of the Policy Dialogue on Human Security in Violent Conflict Situations held on 3 October 2006 at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. Unpublished.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Marxism and Civil Society: The Uneasy Encounter (Daniel Boone Schirmer Memorial Lectures on Marxism in the Philippines)

11 September 2006 (Monday)
2:30-4:00 p.m.
Pulungang Claro M. Recto
Bulwagang Rizal (Faculty Center)
University of the Philippines-Diliman

Armando Malay Jr.
Asian Center
University of the Philippines-Diliman

Maureen Pagaduan
College of Social Work and Community Development
University of the Philippines-Diliman

Eduardo Tadem
Associate Professor
Asian Center
University of the Philippines-Diliman


The motivations of civil society are suspect to Marxist-Leninists, and Marx himself manifested hostility toward its bourgeois character. Is it really against the State, as some like to think, or is it on the contrary protective of the State? Why is it demonized today in Cuba, for example, or Venezuela, and suppressed in China or Vietnam?

The civil society project in the Philippines is older than the radical Left’s; the two uneasily acknowledge each other’s presence. Yet the Left at present has no choice but to engage with the institutions of civil society (engagement with the State seems out of the question however). A paradox thus emerges: even as they denigrate it, the Marxist-Leninists are part of civil society insofar as they participate—even in their capacity as dissenters—in the national discourse.

Seeds of Violence or Buds of Peace: World Faiths as Resources for Peace Education (A Public Lecture)

Ursula King
Professor Emerita of Theology and Religious Studies
University of Bristol

08 September 2006 (Friday), 2:30-4:00 p.m.
Pulungang Claro M. Recto, Bulwagang Rizal (Faculty Center)
University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City



Welcome Remarks
Odine de Guzman
Deputy Director
Center for Women’s Studies
University of the Philippines-Diliman

Ursula King
Professor Emerita of Theology and Religious Studies
University of Bristol

Open Forum

Aries Arugay
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
College of Social Sciences and Philosophy
University of the Philippines-Diliman

Aries Arugay

Jointly organized by the University of the Philippines Office of the President, Office of the Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Center for Women's Studies, Third World Studies Center, and the Department of Political Science

URSULA KING, STL (Paris), PhD (London), FRSA, is Professor Emerita of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Bristol, where she held the Chair in Theology and Religious Studies from 1989-2002, after teaching for many years at the University of Leeds, in London, and in India. She was Visiting Professor in Feminist Theology at the University of Oslo (1998-2001), and in 1999 she held the Brueggeman Chair in Interreligious Studies at Xavier University, Cincinnati. In the fall of 2005 she was the distinguished Bingham Professor of Humanities at the University of Louisville, KY. She is currently a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Bristol, and a Professorial Research Fellow of the Centre for Gender and Religious Research at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She has also worked as Consultant on Gender and Religion entries for the second edition of Macmillan’s Encyclopedia of Religion (New York, 2005).

She has published numerous books and articles, especially on women and spirituality, gender issues in world religions, and on the French thinker Pierre Teilhard de Chardin; she has also contributed to many broadcasts and TV programmes. Among her publications are Christian Mystics: Their Lives and Legacies Throughout the Ages (Hidden Spring: Paulist Press, 200l, and London: Routledge, 2004), the edited volumes Gender, Religion and Diversity (co-edited with Tina Beattie; Continuum, 2004), Spirituality and Society in the New Millennium (Brighton and Portland, Oregon: Sussex Academic Press, 2001) and Faith and Praxis in a Postmodern Age (London: Cassel, 1998). She gave the 1996 Bampton Lectures at the University of Oxford, published as Christ in All Things: Exploring Spirituality with Teilhard de Chardin (London: SCM Press and Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1997) and wrote a biography Spirit of Fire: The Life and Vision of Teilhard de Chardin (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1996) as well as edited selected writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in the Orbis Books Modern Spiritual Masters Series (1999). Her current research is concerned with aspects of contemporary spirituality, and with comparative gender perspectives in different world religions. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from Edinburgh University (1996), Oslo University (2000) and the University of Dayton, Ohio (2003).

Regional Conference-Workshop on Disseminating Peace in Southeast Asia

The attainment of peace is an ongoing task that is part of the unfinished project of democratization in many parts of the world, especially in Southeast Asia. Broadly, the concept of peace as not merely the absence of conflict, but also the presence of harmony, equity and justice within and between societies is fast gaining acceptance in conflict-ridden areas. “Positive peace” involves the elimination of the root causes of war, violence, and injustice and the conscious effort to build a society which reflects these commitments. Thus, it entails the promotion of a culture of peace in order to dispel the attitudes, emotions and ways of thinking which breed conflicts. In this sense, while peacebuilding is an attempt to develop more just and democratic systems, it is a process that can actually be undertaken even prior to conflict settlement or resolution.

Educational institutions play a big part in molding the minds of the young generation. It is where values such as respect and tolerance for diversity may be learned. Hence, propagating the messages of peace and promoting a culture on nonviolence through education should be encouraged. In implementing peace education through the formal school curriculum, history textbooks become the most accessible source of information to young individuals about their community’s collective past. These textbooks largely inform their sense of self and their sense of belonging to that wider community of peoples called the nation. Mainstream media is another institution that has a significant role in forming individual as well as collective values. With its omnipresence and capacity to shape and transmit popular culture, media can be used to spread peace messages.

It is in this context that a regional workshop on disseminating peace in Southeast Asia is being organized. The workshop will provide an opportunity for scholars, activists, policymakers, and journalists to share their knowledge and experiences and to eventually cull from these, culturally-sensitive approaches to peacebuilding through education and media. The workshop will concentrate on Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, due to their similarities in terms of: (1) influential role of the military and militarist thinking, (2) process of democratization and state consolidation, and (3) presence of peacebuilding activities, grounded on comparable historical experience. On the other hand, the workshop participants will also learn from the distinct experiences that each country may offer due to differences in the existence and activeness of civil society, as well as insurgencies that challenge the state.


The objectives of the “Regional Conference-Workshop on Disseminating Peace in Southeast Asia” are:

  1. To provide a venue where scholars, activists, educators, and journalists in the region can share and consolidate their insights and experiences on how peace messages can be disseminated through formal education and mainstream media in Southeast Asia;
  2. To enhance awareness and understanding of different or similar approaches to peacebuilding through the abovementioned channels; and
  3. To come up with a comprehensive framework of action for the region.

Workshop Design

The project is a two-day intensive conference-workshop, with five panel sessions and three small group discussions. The focal point of each session will be the sharing of experiences among the participants, especially on opportunities, problems, and lessons learned. Resource persons will be invited merely to provide a general idea of the topic and set the parameters of the discussion. Each panel will have a moderator and a rapporteur. The small group discussions will be a venue to develop a framework of action on peacebuilding through the media and formal education, based on the inputs from the sessions.


Peacebuilding in Southeast Asia. This session will provide an overview of the concept of peacebuilding in the Southeast Asia and the various activities undertaken by government and nongovernment, both local and international, organizations to attain such. It will try to “map out” the actors and analyze the context for peacebuilding in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic region. While it attempts to provide a regional slant, particular focus is given to Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Media as a Peacebuilding Tool: Prospects for Peace Journalism. As evidenced by the skew or frame of news stories, the media is often used to advance a war agenda. Media coverage of conflicts tends to exaggerate battles and at the same time downplays the underlying causes of conflict that is so crucial to peacebuilding. Why media is more predisposed to highlight the wretchedness that goes along with violence rather than the optimism that peace processes create is attributed to the fact that mainstream media are generally profit-seeking and predatory, and unfortunately, violence has a huge market. On the other hand, if steadfast in its role, media can provide early warning of potential outbreaks of conflict, monitor human rights and foster stability by providing essential information about humanitarian initiatives. An emerging concept and practice, for instance, is the proactive use of media in conflict situations, where journalists are taking into consideration the capacity of their news accounts to resolve differences and encourage reconciliation, and not just their value in sales and ratings. In effect, journalists not only play the role of observer and documenter of events, but that of a peacebuilder as well. This session will analyze the double-edged role of mainstream media in times of conflict and explore the potential of transforming it into an instrument of peace.

Guide Questions:

  1. How has mainstream media covered conflicts and peacebuilding activities in Southeast Asia? How has the public received such kind of reportage?
  2. Is the political, economic, and sociocultural environment in Southeast Asia supportive of peace journalism? How can the commercial and predatory character of the media industry affect the prospects for peace journalism?
  3. What does media as an instrument of peace entail? Does it mean journalists resolving conflicts or mediating? How could they do this and still maintain objectivity? What responsibilities do journalists bear concerning peace and conflicts?

Integrating Peace Education into the School Curriculum. Peace education is an important aspect in seeking lasting peace as part of a national development agenda. While it hinges on the principle of promoting a culture of nonviolent response to conflict, it depends on social, political, and cultural contexts for it to be appropriate and effective. In Southeast Asia, peace education has been initiated largely as a response to armed conflicts between governments and rebel forces. In the Philippines, in line with the integration of peace education in the formal education curriculum, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, in partnership with the Department of Education developed new sets of peace education teaching modules for public elementary and secondary schools and trained 669 administrators and teachers representing 317 schools nationwide on such exemplars. A parallel effort is also undertaken by member-schools of the Peace Education Network, although they have not limited themselves to schools-based programs. On the other hand, universities and colleges in Thailand are already offering peace and conflict studies as a major or field of specialization, separate from political science, human rights or international studies. The approach is multi-disciplinary with the goal of producing a new generation of peace workers and generating indigenous methods of peacebuilding in multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Southeast Asia. This session aims to provide a venue for educators at the primary and secondary levels to discuss the opportunities and problems of integrating peace education into the formal school curriculum.

Guide Questions:

  1. Does the political, economic, and sociocultural environment in Southeast Asia supportive of peace education in primary and secondary levels? What are the different types of programs currently implemented? What were the outcomes of these initiatives?
  2. What are the challenges in integrating peace education into the formal school curriculum? Given this scenario, what should be the key components of peace education programs that are appropriate, feasible, and culturally-sensitive?

The Role of History Textbooks in Fostering Peace and Mutual Understanding. Claude Lévi-Strauss asserts that history is never only history of; it is always history for. If textbooks then are erroneous and incomplete, if they foster bigoted views, or privilege one group of people and religion, then present conflict will be justified and perpetuated and new ones will be launched. History in that form tyrannizes the consciousness of individuals and rationalizes inequality and repression. History in this form sabotages the present and imperils the future of a nation. The purpose of this workshop is to assess how Southeast Asia and its peoples are discursively depicted and reproduced in elementary, high school, and college history textbooks. This assessment will be done with the corollary objective of providing a critique of this very same literature vis-à-vis the precepts of multicultural education that aims to foster peace in a multicultural society. The realizations from this workshop will serve as the stepping stone in offering new histories for the peoples of Southeast Asia. Thus in the end, even how history is written, taught, appreciated, and ideologically deployed in these countries will be reconfigured.

Guide Questions:

  1. Do history textbooks in Southeast Asia contain erroneous and incomplete information which might foster bigoted views, or privileges one group of people and/or religion over the other? Do history textbooks in Southeast Asia give more emphasis on valor acquired in war and other conflicts than on acts that fosters peace and mutual understanding? Is there room for peace and mutual understanding in the pages of history textbooks in Southeast Asia?
  2. How do writers and publishers of history textbooks in Southeast Asia define “peace” and “mutual understanding”? Can these concepts be productively used in writing textbooks? What are the theoretical and practical issues that must be taken in consideration if “peace” and “mutual understanding” will be made an integral part of the narratives contained in the history textbooks?

Jakarta Post on the Regional Conference-Workshop on Disseminating Peace in Southeast Asia

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