Missionary Milestones

“I have come so they may have life, and have it to the full.”—John 10:10
 
Being rural missionaries living out Jesus’ preferential option for the poor, in the last five years since reestablishment in October 2006, we have…
 
Organized peasant organizations
 
RMP-NMR assisted the formation of and provided technical assistance to the biggest alliance of the peasants in the region, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Northern Mindanao Region (KMP-NMR) that held its first ever assembly of reestablishment on October 2010. RMP-NMR has also become an important organization that facilitated the emergence and eventual establishment of the Misamis Oriental Farmer’s Association (MOFA), one of KMP-NMR’s major affiliate organizations.
 
 
RMP-NMR also played a major role in establishing local indigenous peoples’ organizations in the Region apparently affected by militarization. In Agusan del Sur where paramilitaries continue to sow terror, RMP-NMR recovered and brought back to its existence the Pigdidiwatahan, an organization of the ethnic group Manobo in Esperanza which was formerly called Katiboan, and reorganized the Linundigan organization of the Higaonon in San Luis.In the boundaries of Agusan del Norte and Misamis Oriental, RMP-NMR assisted the formation of Pigsuludaan organization of the Higaonons. RMP-NMR also supported the KALUMBAY Regional Lumad Organization in various ways, and became a part of its secretariat during KALUMBAY’s regional assemblies in 2007 and 2009.
 
When residents of the Mantigue Island in the province of Camiguin were displaced from their islet to pave the way for local government’s tourism development projects, RMP-NMR helped establish the Mantigue Fisherfolks and Neighbourhood Association to put-together an organized resistance versus displacement and repression. RMP-NMR continuously strengthens the Nagkahiusang mga Kwaridor sa Kiwalan (NAKWAK), an organization it helped establish with the farmers in the quarry areas of Kiwalan in Iligan City in 2006.
 
Strengthened their capacities, assisted them in their agrarian campaigns
 
 
RMP-NMR has been with the peasants of in their struggle for land and life.
 
Aside from its mobilization of its network organizations since 1998 against the Cagayan-Iligan Corridor (CIC) project since this will displace peasants to pave the way for ‘development’ initiatives that are in essence anti-farmers, it assisted and is continuously assisting the arduous struggle of the farmers of the Buffalo-Tamaraw-Limus (BTL) Farmers’ Organization in Musuan, Bukidnon whose lands are being claimed by the Central Mindanao University for ‘academic purposes.’

RMP-NMR organized the “Kampuhan sa mga Mag-uuma”, a 5-day camp-out protest of the peasants of Bukidnon at the front of the Provincial Capitol Building in Malaybalay to demand for land, wage and benefits for the sugarcane plantation workers and small farmers in December 2010. Since that date, 48 village-based organizations have won their local struggles in issues ranging from increase of wages of agricultural workers, reducing usury of landlord families,  up to increase of the farm-gate prices of agricultural products.

 
RMP-NMR also supported peasant organizations in their various campaigns versus the bogus, pro-landlord and anti-peasant Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program-Extension with Reforms (CARPER) that was being peddled by fake NGOs and victimized farmers’ organizations throughout the country. Since 2007, it has organized series of campaigns that included awareness-raising activities, lobbying and alliance work to call for genuine agrarian reform. It has also actively participated in the National Rural Congress convened by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and facilitated the participation of various grassroots rural poor organizations to the diocesan, Mindanao-wide, and up to the national level consultations.
 
In all of the campaigns mentioned, RMP-NMR helped increased capacities of peasant organizations through provision of trainings on leadership skills, mass campaign and mobilization, and human rights monitoring and documentation.
 
Joined them in their quest for the right to ancestral domain and self-determination
 
 
When human rights violations became the order of the day in the hinterlands of Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte and the eastern part of Misamis Oriental, RMP-NMR responded promptly to help human rights defenders at-risk and their organizations from indigenous communities fighting the encroachment of large-scale mining, logging and corporate plantations of their ancestral lands.
 
With several grants from Frontline International Foundation for Human Rights, it gave human rights services to leaders and members of three IP communities in Agusan del Sur and Misamis Oriental—relocating those at risk, assisting them in their legal battle, doing advocacy works and strengthening the security capabilities of the organizations.
 
Together with the Panaw Kalinaw alliance in December 2009, RMP-NMR organized the International Peace and Human Rights Mission (IPHRM) that gathered around 400 human rights networks and advocates, lawyers and paralegals, that unearthed the truth behind the extra-judicial killings targeting leaders of indigenous communities in Agusan del Sur, and the virtual air of martial law in the areas of Pantaron range in Bukidnon. Doctors and health workers were also mobilized during the activity to give their relevant services to the target communities.
 
In December 2010, RMP-NMR co-convened with the KALUMBAY Regional Lumad Organization the ‘PIGSAPAAN 2010’ at the Kaamulan Grounds in Malaybalay City Bukidnon that gathered around 1,000 participants from grassroots IP organizations, human rights network and advocates, and other solidarity groups nationwide and internationally. ‘PIGSAPAAN 2010’ is a human rights festival honouring the lives of human rights defenders from IP communities whose lives were lost while defending ancestral domains from plunder. ‘PIGSAPAAN 2010’ united 7 ethno-linguistic tribes of Northern Mindanao to continuously defend ancestral lands, the right to self-determination and indigenous culture against plunder, human rights violations and ethnocide through an indigenous ritual and pact.
 
At present, RMP-NMR is completing a human rights capacity-building program for indigenous peoples entitled “IN DEFENSE OF THE STEWARDS: Program for the Protection of Lumad HRDs and their Communities Defending Ancestral Lands,” funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands through the Alternative Law Group (ALG).
 
Defended their women and children versus human rights violations and impunity, militarization and displacement
 
In the waves of political repression sweeping the country, women from the rural areas are the most vulnerable to human rights violations owing to their remoteness, the lack of access by the media, and lack of capacity to seek redress from the courts.
 
With grants from the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights and other networks, RMP-NMR supported women human rights defenders from the peasant communities.  Since 2008, scores of peasant women human rights defenders at risk were given support services such as relocation, legal and medical attention, including advocacy works. These women-survivors are now sustaining the very important works they are doing for human rights in their communities.
 
As in other parts of Mindanao, Northern Mindanao is a land of strife hosting two armed revolutions. RMP-NMR never failed to response to the humanitarian crises and human rights violations in conflict areas of the region. When the war between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and government forces broke out in August 2008 that displaced 600,000 people—the highest in the world according to the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Committee—RMP-NMR co-convened the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission (NIHM) that gathered 1,000 participants locally, nationally and internationally. Mission participants documented human rights violations, distributed relief goods, provided medical and psycho-social interventions to victims and internal refugees in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur. RMP-NMR also spearheaded the ‘Panaw Alang sa Kalinaw’ (Exodus for Peace), a fact-finding, relief and medical mission to the militarized areas of Quezon in Southern Bukidnon on March 2009.  Another ‘Panaw Alang sa Kalinaw’ was held in the hinterlands of Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental on April 2009 following the massacre of family of a human rights activist by paramilitary men in the village of Syoan, and the subsequent militarization of the area. In these series of interventions, Survivors’ Collectives, an organization of victims of human rights violations and internal displacement were establish in the villages to facilitate a effective claim-making from the human rights duty-bearers.
 
RMP-NMR is currently implementing a human rights project entitled “HEALING THE HURT: Program for the Provision of Psycho-Social Aid to Women and Children Victims of Human Rights Violations and Militarization” with support from the Martin-Baro Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights.
 
Engaged with various organizations in various alliance for various issues benefiting the rural poor
RMP-NMR has been a part of the Pagkakaisa Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo or PATRIA in Northern Mindanao, a coalition of peasant organizations, church people and agrarian advocates calling for the implementation of genuine agrarian reform, scrapping of the present bogus land reform scheme, and calling for the enactment of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill in the Philippine Congress.
 
RMP has been into various alliances pushing for the peasant agenda, of them is the Panaw Kalinaw, an aggrupation of various organizations calling for the demilitarization of the Northern Mindanao rural areas, and of Kalinaw Mindanao, an island-wide alliance pushing for the stoppage of all-out war policies and the purely militarist counter-insurgency program of the government. Amid the public optimism on the reopening of the peace process between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) on January 2011, RMP-NMR joined the ‘Sowing the Seeds of Peace,’ a broad movement supporting the peace process and calling for the attainment of a just and lasting peace in the country. RMP-NMR also spearheaded the establishment of the all-women peace consortium, Kalinaw Watch.
 
Pushing for environmental protection and integrity of the creation, RMP-NMR affiliated itself with Panalipdan! Mindanao, a broad coalition of people’s organizations and institutions campaigning against large-scale mining, coal-fired power plant, mega dams and other projects detrimental to the environment.
 
Campaigning for an interfaith cooperation to promote human rights and democracy in the mainly-rural Moroland, we are also a partner of the 9 faith-based organizations in the European Union-funded electoral project, “HEALING DEMOCRACY: Unleashing Interfaith Initiatives towards the Promotion of Democratic Electoral Process in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines,” with activities including citizen voters’ education and monitoring of the local and national elections in Lanao del Sur in  May 10, 2010.
 
 
RMP-NMR is also a part of Aid Watch Philippines, a coalition of non-government organizations and people’s organizations in the country working for aid effectiveness.  RMP-NMR co-hosted the Mindanao Consultation with civil society organizations in December 15, 2010 at Cagayan de Oro City.
 
Launched educational activities among church people and other sectors to drumbeat agrarian, food security, governance and accountability, human rights, peace and other issues affecting the rural poor populace
 
RMP-NMR has conducted awareness-raising and conscientization with the religious and church communities and other sectors since 2007 on various peasant and people’s issues. In collaboration with the Sisters Association in Mindanao and the Promotion of Church People’s Response Lanao it has conducted various biblico-theologico reflections and forum-discussions, to wit:
 
  • biblico-theologico reflection on Political Repression and Human Rights on December 09, 2007 at the Salvatorri Hall, Maria Crisitina Hotel, Iligan City tackling extra-judicial killings and human rights violations sweeping the country on that year
  • biblico-theologico reflection on Truth and Accountability on April 15, 2008 at the Salvatorri Hall, Maria Cristina Hotel, Iligan City with Ms. Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes, then the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), reflecting on the ‘tears’ of corruption whistle blower Jun Lozada biblico-theologico reflection on Militarization on April 23, 2009 at the Hotel Valencia in Valencia City, Bukidnon contemplating on the ill effects of militarization in the municipalities of Southern Bukidnon
  • North-South Solidarity Forum Series: Hacienda Luisita in the North, and Bukidnon Sugarcane Plantation Workers in the South, with Lito Bais of the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Eduardo Legaspi of Unyon sa mga Yanong Obrerong Nakahiusa (UGYON). Biblico-theologico reflection on Landlessness and Exploitation was shared by the newly-installed RMP National Coordinator Sr. Mary Francis Anover, RSM. These forum series in 2010 were held at Pilgrim Chirstian College in Cagayan de Oro City (October 14), Central Mindanao State University in Musuan, Bukidnon (October 15) and St. Alphonsus’ Hall, Redemptorist Church in Iligan City (October 16)
  • Forum on “The Anatomy of Food Security” at the height of rice crises owing to land and crop conversion and other government food production policies, initiated with the Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao, April 24, 2008 at the Rooftop of MSU-Iligan Institute of technology
  • Forum on the Northern Mindanao Peasant Situation co-hosted with the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Northern Mindanao on November 25, 2010 at  Hotel Ramon in Cagayan de Oro City discussing the escalating landlessness in the region and the renewed attacks against human rights and fundamental freedoms of the rural poor populace
  • biblico-theologico reflection on Plunder and Militarization of Lumad Communities in Northern Mindanao on November 29, 2010 at the Titus Brandsma Center of the Order of Carmelites, New Manila, Quezon City co-sponsored with Sentro Kitanglad and the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas (KAMP)
  • Peace Forums in Mindanao State University-Main Campus in Marawi City (March 7, 2010) and MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology (March 8, 2010) with speakers coming from both side of the negotiating panels. Co-sponsored with the “Sowing the Seeds of Peace” alliance, the forum solicited support for the success of the GPH-NDF Peace Process and endorsement of the Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Agenda
  • University Forum-Series ‘Peace Process on the Ground: The Lumad Communities’ Experience’ co-sponsored with KALUMBAY Regional Lumad Organization and held with the Psychology Department of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro (February 28, 2010), MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology’s Sociology Department (February 23, 2010) and History Department (March 3, 2010), and MSU Main Campus’ History Department (February 24). The forum aims to mainstream the IP agenda in the GPH-NDF Peace Process.
Helped others understand their sad plight
 
 
RMP-NMR hosted several exposure programme to peasant communities for solidarity friends from various countries like Japan, USA and Belgium.
 
Solidarity exposures, integration and immersion to peasant communities via the Rural Integration and Solidarity Work (RISW) were activated and opened to friends, church and other networks. Among these is the Solidarity Visit to a sugarcane plantation workers’ community in San Vicente, Dangcagan, Bukidnon on October 16-17, 2010 with a close to 80 participants of students, teachers and nuns.
 
The Communication Studies Department of the MSU Main Campus have partnered with RMP-NMR in the exposure program at the Buffalo-Tamaraw-Limus farmer’s community in Musuan, Bukidnon on January 15-17, 2010.  A group of students from network organizations also paid visit and exposure to the mining communities of San Fernando in Bukidnon on February 1-3, 2010.
 
Conducted research and publication projects tackling the most urgent issues of the rural poor
 
We have aided the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Northern Mindanao in their research on the extent of landlessness of the peasant s in the region in 2010, and published the book “Asa na ang Kayutaan?,”a presentation of the peasant situation in Northern Mindanao.
 
RMP-NMR also led the research on plunder and militarization of Lumad communities in Northern Mindanao in 2010, and published the “Blood Money” primer with the KALUMBAY Regional Lumad Organization and the Ethnic Groups Development Resource Center. It also co-implemented a research project with UGYON on the situation of sugarcane agricultural workers in Bukidnon, also in 2010, and published the study in the form of primer.
 
Strengthened the organization to do missions better
 
 
Since 2006 reestablishment, RMP-NMR have held 3 Task-Faith Reflection to deepen missionary commitments, review program of actions, draw sets of priorities for the upcoming years.