WE’RE GLAD TO BE INVOLVED IN A COLLABORATIVE COFFEE INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT IN BASULTA

Last 17-22 May 2024, I, Joji Pantoja, Board Chair and President of Coffee for Peace, had the privilege of traveling to the island provinces of Sulu and Basilan in the southern Philippines. Accompanying me on this journey was Joseph “Ka Boyet” Ongkiko, Executive Vice President of PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. Our mission was clear and purposeful: to explore the potential for developing a sustainable coffee industry in these regions, fostering both economic growth and peace. We were invited by Maradeca Inc., a dedicated local non-governmental organization, and People in Need (PIN), a reputable international NGO. Both organizations recognized the transformative potential of coffee farming in these provinces and sought our expertise in designing a comprehensive training program for the local coffee farmers. This is part of the LEAP Project (Leveraging and Expanding Agri-Aqua Production), a groundbreaking initiative by PIN designed to boost economic development in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

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Permanent link to this article: https://peacebuilderscommunity.org/2024/05/were-glad-to-be-involved-in-a-collaborative-coffee-industry-development-in-basulta/

COMMANDER BRAVO’S VISION OF TRANSFORMING MILF CAMP BILAL INTO A SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURIAL COMMUNITY

Last Monday morning, 22 April 2024, our team was invited to listen to the dreams and aspirations of former combatants at Camp Bilal, the headquarters of the North Western Mindanao Front of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces. BIAF is the armed wing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The discussions happened at the office of MP Abdullah “Cmdr. Bravo” G. Macapaar. The ideas we were hearing resemble that of inclusive development through social enterprise. Brother Musa Mohamad Sanguila gave me time to briefly present the story of Coffee For Peace (CFP) and PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) as advocates and practitioners of Social Enterprise. It seems Commander Bravo and those around him, especially Ma’am Naglah Lailah Amenah Sanguila, liked the idea. Commander Bravo promised to officially invite us to conduct a training on Coffee Social Entrepreneurial Initiative. In Shaa Allah, we will return to start a partnership with this community.

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Permanent link to this article: https://peacebuilderscommunity.org/2024/04/commander-bravos-vision-of-transforming-milf-camp-bilal-into-a-social-entrepreneurial-community/

A REFLECTION ON IRAN’S ATTACK ON ISRAEL: PERSPECTIVES FROM A PEACEBUILDING WORKER IN MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES

Last Saturday, 13 April 2024, at around 20:00 GMT, Iran launched a massive aerial assault on Israeli territory, marking the first-ever direct attack from Iranian soil. The attack, dubbed Operation True Promise by Iran, comes just two weeks after an Israeli strike on its consulate in Syria. The Iranian assault lasted approximately five hours. Explosions reverberated across Israeli cities, prompting air raid sirens in over 720 locations as Israeli forces scrambled to intercept the projectiles. This drew applause from many Palestinians in Gaza on Sunday as rare payback for the Israeli offensive on their enclave. While many of my fellow Christian leaders are beating the war-drums calling the US and the Western powers to strike back at Iran, many of my Bangsamoro friends and colleagues celebrate Iran’s attack. Although I understand and sympathize with my Moro brothers and sisters as they perceive the Iranian military action as justice for the Palestinians, my inner conviction calls me to be faithful as active, nonviolent justice advocate and peacebuilding worker.

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NOTES AND REFLECTIONS ON HON. MOHAGHER IQBAL’S 2024 STATUS REPORT ON THE COMPREHENSIVE AGREEMENT ON THE BANGSAMORO

Last 27 March 2024, our team participated in the Commemoration of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao del Norte. CAB is a peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), aimed at ending decades of conflict in the Bangsamoro region. The commemoration prompted us to think differ about CAB. How was it implemented in the past 10 years? What were its accomplishments, gaps, and challenges? In the intricate landscape of peace negotiations and conflict resolution, the journey towards stability is often marked by milestones and challenges alike. Honorable Mohagher Iqbal’s 2024 Status Report on the CAB encapsulates this nuanced narrative, delineating the accomplishments, gaps, and challenges in the implementation process. Here are our notes and reflections on what we’ve heard.

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MILF RECOGNIZES PBCI FOR OUR “UNWAVERING SUPPORT TO THE BANGSAMORO PEACE PROCESS”

This afternoon, 27 March 2024, our team at PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) participated in the 10th Year Commemoration of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) at Camp Darapanan, the Administrative Offices of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The MILF presented a Plaque of Appreciation to PBCI in recognition of our “unwavering support to the Bangsamoro Peace Process” and for our “tireless efforts to promote peace and development in Mindanao.” Our President & CEO, L. Daniel ‘Lakan’ Pantoja, received the plaque on behalf of our community. The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) is a peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), aimed at ending decades of conflict in the Bangsamoro region.

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Permanent link to this article: https://peacebuilderscommunity.org/2024/03/milf-recognizes-pbci-for-our-unwavering-support-to-the-bangsamoro-peace-process/

JOJI SPEAKS AT THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES TO PROMOTE SENATE BILL 782, ALSO KNOWN AS “THE PRESENT BILL”

In a landmark move towards combating poverty and fostering inclusive growth, the submission of Senate Bill 782 or the Poverty Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship (PRESENT) program marks a significant milestone. “The essence of the PRESENT bill,” Joji Pantoja explains, “lies in its commitment to empower communities through social entrepreneurship.” By recognizing the impoverished not merely as recipients of aid but as active participants in the economic landscape, the program aims to create sustainable solutions to systemic issues. Ms Pantoja was invited to the Philippines Senate to share the vision of collaborative progress, where communities are equipped with the tools and resources to uplift themselves. “Through the PRESENT Program,” Joji adds, “we embark on a journey towards a more equitable and prosperous future… let us embrace the power of social entrepreneurship to transform lives and build thriving communities.”

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Permanent link to this article: https://peacebuilderscommunity.org/2024/03/joji-speaks-at-the-senate-of-the-philippines-to-promote-senate-bill-782-also-known-as-the-present-bill/

THROUGH PRAYERS AND RITUAL OF UNITY, WE CELEBRATED OUR KINSHIP WITH THE PEOPLES OF MINDANAO

Last 08 March 2024, our PBCI-CFP Team travelled to the Ancestral Territories of the Talaandig Indigenous community to participate in the 12th Affirmation of Kinship among Indigenous Peoples, Bangsamoro, and Settlers. As active participants in the tri-people kinship affirmation, we have been privileged to witness firsthand the profound impact of kinship in promoting peace and unity throughout Mindanao. Since its inception in 2012, this annual celebration has stood as a beacon of hope, reminding us of the deep-seated connections that bind together the Indigenous Peoples (IPs), Moros, and Settlers of our cherished region. For us, the highlight of this kinship affirmation is our inter-faith prayer. Through our collective prayers and supplications, we affirm our common humanity and recommit ourselves to the pursuit of love, joy, justice, and peace for all beings.

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JOJI PANTOJA SEES HER VISION OF MULTIPLYING ETHICS-ORIENTED SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS THROUGH PAR FRAMEWORK

The Holy Cross of Davao College (HCDC) recently hosted a Conference on Social Ethics and Entrepreneurship, featuring Joji Pantoja, President & CEO of Coffee for Peace (CFP), as the keynote speaker at the plenary session held on 20 February 2014. Joji’s presentation centered around the peacebuilding framework of PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) that emphasizes achieving harmony across various aspects of life and transformation: harmony with the Creator (spiritual-ethical transformation); harmony with our being (psycho-social transformation); harmony with others (socio-political transformation); and, harmony with the creation (economic-ecological transformation). Joji also delved deeper into how human dignity, environmental responsibility, and good governance contribute to her vision of multiplying ethical social entrepreneurs.

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WE PARTICIPATED IN THE CELEBRATION OF THE 22ND FOUNDING ANNIVERSARY OF THE MINDANAO PEOPLES’ CAUCUS

09-11 February 2024, Cotabato City.  A gathering of Civil Society Organization leaders who compose the Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC) marked the commemoration of the organization’s 22nd Founding Anniversary. The event also served as a poignant reminder of MPC’s transformative role within Mindanao’s social fabric. We have had the privilege of being part of MPC since 2006, and it’s been an incredibly transformative experience for us. Through our involvement with MPC, we’ve witnessed firsthand the power of dialogue and collaboration in fostering peace and understanding among diverse communities in Mindanao. Together, we’ve participated in forums, engaged in discussions, and worked towards common goals of social justice and reconciliation. MPC has provided us with a platform to contribute to positive change in our region, and we are grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a vital movement for peace and development.

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TOP SIX COFFEE PRODUCERS FROM LANAO DEL SUR RECEIVE ADVANCED ‘FARMERPRENEURIAL’ TRAINING

30-31 January 2024. Our CFP-PBCI Inclusive Development (IncluDev) Team hosted the most productive farmers from Lanao del Sur for Coffee Farmer-Entrepreneurial Training. In the morning of the first day, they were brought to the Davao Peace Hub to enhance their skills in practicing and sharing Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Principles; they also had coffee roasting and packaging workshop there. In the afternoon, they were welcomed to the Coffee for Peace Cafe to learn about coffee tasting and aroma appreciation. On the morning of the second day, our staff at the Malipayon Peace Hub facilitated a workshop on post-harvest processing skills; they also presented the coffee beans they brought from their farms which were evaluated by seasoned coffee entrepreneurs.

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ALONG WITH OUR COLLEAGUES, WE WELCOME THE RESUMPTION OF THE NDF-GPH PEACE TALKS

We, at PeaceBuilders Community, join our colleagues in expressing our support and appreciation to both the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in resuming the Peace Talks as communicated in the Oslo Joint Statement signed last 23 November 2023. Our perspective from the ground compels us to amplify the voices of the people with whom we’ve been working. We pray that both GRP and NDFP would focus on resolving the root of armed conflict — that is, the persisting landlessness of the farmers, widespread poverty, depressed wages of workers, and the lack of local, inclusive, industrial development. We are listening to the fresh perspective of the GRP and to the clarifying focus of the NDFP as they both approach the negotiating table. May the God of justice and peace sustain and bless this resumption of peace talks.

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‘2023 CHRISTMAS’ IS MORE OF A COMMEMORATION THAN A CELEBRATION

Christmas 2023 carries a somber weight, serving as a commemoration rather than a jubilation. The world, marred by conflicts in Gaza, the West Bank, and various oppressive wars, casts a shadow on the season’s usual cheer. The heartbreaking inaction of the international community in the face of genocide and ethnic cleansing further dims the festive spirit. It’s a stark reminder of the unfathomable cruelty humans inflict upon their own kind, underscoring the urgent need for compassion, solidarity, and genuine peace in a world torn by inhumanity. The sermon titled “Christ Under the Rubble,” delivered by The Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac, pastor of the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, strikes a chord within me. If Jesus were to be born today, he will be found under the rubble. This poignant sermon resonates deeply, emphasizing the enduring strength found in faith and the embodiment of hope, especially as we experience Christmas 2023 in the context of a decolonizing process.

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Permanent link to this article: https://peacebuilderscommunity.org/2023/12/appropriate-and-authentic-2024-christmas-is-more-of-commemoration-than-a-celebration/

OUR GLOBAL PEACE COMMUNITY

We are sent by Mennonite Church Canada Witness in partnership with our international community.