Tala Alngag Bautista, our Chief Operating Officer at PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI), served as co-facilitator with Jon Rudy in Human Security course, during the Week Three of the 2018 Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI). MPI is a resource for peacebuilders and for nearly two decades, MPI has been “providing skills, conducting research, and building solidarity within the Asia-Pacific Region.”
This Human Security course is very timely. It was this week last year when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law over the whole of Mindanao because of the Maute-ISIS attack in Marawi City. Our peacebuilding field operations and our networks felt the impact of violence, militarism, and the deterioration of civil liberties in many areas in Mindanao. After a year, the people of Marawi are still suffering from human insecurities caused by such act of terrorism and unjust destruction of their city.
Are we safe in Mindanao and in the Philippines under the current dispensation? Do we feel secure? Is our dignity upheld? Are our basic rights as human beings protected? Does martial law bring a sense of freedom from fear and from harm? These questions prompted us to start the process of exploring Human Security as a concept, as a set of principles, and as a set of practical courses of action.
When Jon Rudy and MPI invited Tala Bautista to serve as co-facilitator in this course, we, at PBCI, welcomed the idea with much excitement. It was Joji Pantoja, PBCI Executive Vice President, who recommended Tala to Jon. “This will expand her horizon in doing learning facilitation,” Joji said. “Getting involved in learning about human security,” she adds, “is another level of peacebuilding growth-process, not only for Tala, but also for us as a peacebuilding community.”
“No, I won’t just permit Tala to accept the invitation,” replied Lakan Sumulong, PBCI DreamWeaver & CEO, when asked if he would release Tala for a whole week to be at MPI. “I’d require her to be there” he asserted, “and I know, as an MPI alumnus, that she’ll grow as a peacebuilding leader in this experience.”
JONATHAN RUDY. Jon has been serving as a Senior Consultant here at PBCI. He was our training facilitator for our newly-formed Board of Trustees when PeaceBuilders Community was in the process of being incorporated under the laws of the Republic of the Philippines. Jon is currently the Peacemaker-in-Residence for Elizabethtown College’s Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking. Jon has an MA in Religion with a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. With more than 25 years of working in 30 countries in Asia and Africa, Jon has focused his efforts at peacebuilding and conflict transformation on a grass roots and middle-out communities.
And so, our community plunged with Tala into this subject of Human Security.
In the mid-1990s, the United Nations started asking about aspects of human development from the lenses of human rights-oriented framework and seeing the person, instead of the state, as the central player. In 10 September 2012, the UN General Assembly Resolution 66/290 was adopted. It enumerated the common understanding on the notion of human security:
- The right of people to live in freedom and dignity, free from poverty and despair. All individuals, in particular vulnerable people, are entitled to freedom from fear and freedom from want, with an equal opportunity to enjoy all their rights and fully develop their human potential;
- Human security calls for people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-oriented responses that strengthen the protection and empowerment of all people and all communities;
- Human security recognizes the interlinkages between peace, development and human rights, and equally considers civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights;
- The notion of human security is distinct from the responsibility to protect and its implementation;
- Human security does not entail the threat or the use of force or coercive measures. Human security does not replace State security;
- Human security is based on national ownership. Since the political, economic, social and cultural conditions for human security vary significantly across and within countries, and at different points in time, human security strengthens national solutions which are compatible with local realities;
- Governments retain the primary role and responsibility for ensuring the survival, livelihood and dignity of their citizens. The role of the international community is to complement and provide the necessary support to Governments, upon their request, so as to strengthen their capacity to respond to current and emerging threats. Human security requires greater collaboration and partnership among Governments, international and regional organizations and civil society;
- Human security must be implemented with full respect for the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, including full respect for the sovereignty of States, territorial integrity and non-interference in matters that are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of States. Human security does not entail additional legal obligations on the part of States.
“The human security approach,” said Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, “is instrumental to sustainable development, inclusive peace, justice and the well-being and dignity of all people.”
The working definition we use is from the Handbook of Human Security: A Civil-Military-Police Curriculum (PDF, page 9):
“Human security refers to the security of individuals and communities. The United Nations defines human security as “people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific, and prevention-oriented measures that seek to reduce the likelihood of conflicts, help overcome the obstacles to development and promote human rights for all.” At minimum, human security refers to safety from direct threats of violence. A comprehensive approach to human security includes three components: freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom to live in dignity. In some regions, the term “multi-dimensional security” is more popular. The terms democratic security, multi-dimensional security, citizen security, or community security refer to similar ideas.”
These body of knowledge resonates well with us as a community of peace and reconciliation missionaries working in the context of the Martial Law realities in Mindanao.
During the week, we made sure we were with Tala and the class in spirit and in prayers. Every day!
Almost every evening during our family dinner, Tala would share her day at MPI. Her stories affirmed that indeed, “MPI is an Asian training institute grounded in the context of Mindanao, Philippines,” as stated in their website, and it truly “provides a space for people of diverse backgrounds to gather together, share and learn in a safe environment where all viewpoints are encouraged and respected.”
Tala was quick to express her gratitude to Jon. “As the Lead Facilitator,” she testified, “Kuya Jon’s expertise of the subject matter is very deep. His sense of security about the subject matter freed him to give me freedom to include my own insights and creativity in communicating the textbook concepts. He’s a very wise teacher,” she continued, “and I’m humbled that he allowed me to co-facilitate in his class.” It was also Jon who endorsed and encouraged Tala to apply for a graduate studies program at The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at the Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA.
TALA ALNGAG BAUTISTA. Tala—the Pilipino term for star—serves as Chief Operating Officer. She desires to be a Tala that points toward the Prince of Peace. Tala is a proud member of the Kalinga First Nation and celebrates the fact that she belongs to the Indigenous People (IP). She’s a graduate of the University of the Philippines in Diliman with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. At an early age, she dreamed to be a missionary. Now that she’s part of PeaceBuilders Community, she testifies with much excitement that she is a PeaceBuilding Missionary! Tala is our most qualified partnership designer and seasoned inclusive development mentor. She also serves as Vice President for Community Development at Coffee for Peace, Inc.
We celebrated with Tala on that late Friday evening when she arrived home. Not only that she survived the week. She thrived in that new experience.
The following day, Jon and Tala had a debriefing session at Coffee for Peace Cafe. “At MPI, I became aware that the more mature the learners,” Tala mused, “the more they prefer hearing stories and doing activities.” Lakan was invited by Jon to join their post-class evaluation. He asked Tala to comment further about her encounter with class participants who were older than her. “My co-facilitating experience at MPI,” Tala replied, “debunked my presumption that mature learners always prefer concepts and models. They have rich experiences. They gladly shared their stories and they told me they felt they were heard. I listened to their rich stories of wisdom and learned a lot.”
Jon’s overall assessment of Tala’s performance at MPI was a big boost for us at PBCI. “Watching her leading the workshops gave me ideas on how to be more creative as a facilitator,” said Jon. “Tala did an excellent job,” he continued, “for a first time co-facilitator at MPI.”
With our initial exposure to Human Security course, we feel we are better equipped to face the realities and implications borne out of the continuing Martial Law in Mindanao — despite the people’s cry to put it to an end.