Recently Clingendael trainers returned to the Philippines to conduct a strategy workshop and train members of parliament (MPs) of the Bangsamoro Transitional Assembly.
UNDP and Clingendael Academy have been working together since 2016 in building capacity with different Bangsamoro stakeholders to enhance their chances to work together effectively, to work for Bangsamoro unity and to strengthen the peace process.
With the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the formation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the start of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) early 2019, the peace process has entered a new phase. Now, more than ever before, the Bangsamoro have to work together and show their ability to govern to improve the lives of their people. A daunting task made even more complicated due to the:
- lack of governance and administrative experience of most ministers in the BTA;
- lack of experience both in the BTA as well as in the Philippines government in working with a region with far stretching autonomy;
- adoption of a British parliamentary system in BARMM in a country used to work in a more American based system;
- lack of experience in political affairs and negotiations of most Members of Parliament;
- great time pressure to adopt many far reaching codes, such as the Administrative Code, Electoral Code, Budgetary Code, which will form the bases to govern the BARMM in the future, but which do not exist yet;
- limited time frame of a transitional period of three years;
- high hopes and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people, who expect to see clear improvements in their lives now that peace has arrived;
- continuing threat of violence by extremists groups.
It is from this background that UNDP and Clingendael Academy have identified different target groups to work with the coming years.
Training for MPs
During the recent training simulation exercises were used that specifically focused on the work of the BTA. Many concepts were introduced and discussed within their own context. Specific attention was paid on how to behave to create a cooperative environment as well as understanding and breaking deadlock situations. A very specific concern was the lack of informal space and preparation work informally on important pieces of legislation. In the past six months or so most of the communication was done formally, during official BTA meetings. It also became apparent that the staff of MPs or Ministers are underused in doing important legwork of negotiation and consensus building. Together with the MPs and UNDP, we identified clear steps to improve on these issues.
Strategy workshop for Insider Mediators
During the second strategy workshop of the year we together with the insider mediators (IM) as a group looked at some of the biggest challenges facing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and what the insider mediators group can do. We talked about the following main concerns:
- Intergovernmental coordination to coordinate between the government in Manila and the BTA;
- Constituency management/ communication link to on the one hand explain to the constituents who hope to see concrete actions and improvements of their lives how the BTA works and the challenges it faces, while on the other hand bringing the voices of the people to the BTA;
- A fair and transparent electoral code is seen as vital for the elections in 2022;
- (Community) security to enhance the safety of communities;
- Cooperation within the BTA amongst MPs and Ministers.
For each of these main concerns we worked on action plans to identify the role the IM could play as well as concrete action points.
In addition this training, we conducted training sessions earlier in 2019 for traditional leaders (July) and religious leaders (September) as well as conducting a strategy workshop for the Insider Mediators group (March).
We will continue to work with the UNDP in supporting the Bangsamoro in creating sustainable peace in 2020. Part of the Clingendael Academy work is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under our programme: Negotiation and mediation in conflict resolution.