The Barangay Justice for Peace (BJP) Project is a 2-year project, funded by the USAID through the Gerry Roxas Foundation (GRF), initiated in year 2009. GRF tapped Mahintana, in close coordination with South Cotabato’s Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Legal Office, to implement the project in the province, covering 10 municipalities and one (1) city. The project aims to promote community peace in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and non-ARMM communities by integrating community-based alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in local level planning and implementation, mobilizing and training a total of 3,000 peace advocates or who are popularly known as Barangay Justice Advocates (BJA).
n October 18-December 1, 2010, the project conducted a BJA special course certification program, participated by a total of 366 individuals, comprised of Barangay Captains, Lupon members, Barangay Secretaries, Tribal Chieftains, Purok Leaders, and potential leaders in the community. The activities aimed to enhance their knowledge and skills in effectively managing community conflicts through the following: promotion of deeper understanding in building the constituencies of peace in the community; strengthening the emotional resilience of BJAs in managing community conflicts effectively; learning new ways of counseling and mediating community members using the concept of Inquire, Consider, Choose (IC2); appreciating the differences of men and women and valuing each contribution made to the community; and for BJAs to become cognizant on various laws under the revised Penal Code of the Philippines, particularly those provisions within the jurisdiction of the Katarungang Pambarangay and “BJAble.”
Participants learned the concepts through lecture-discussions, role plays, games, structured learning exercises, and workshops. They were then evaluated after the end of each session to know their level of understanding on the topics discussed. The training resulted to a strengthened Katarungang Pambarangay in the province of South Cotabato, wherein members of the Lupong Tagapamayapa, who were also BJAs, were equipped with knowledge and skills in case documentation, mediation, and counseling. They were introduced to the community through Barangay Council Meetings or Barangay General Assemblies, of which 10 barangays had passed resolutions for the recognition of BJAs to function as peace counselors and mediators of their barangays. To date, BJAs had facilitated and resolved 90% of conflicts in the barangay, indicating their significant contribution in reducing the number of cases filed in the barangay.
Such activity has promoted sound partnership and coordination between public and private sector, wherein DILG’s Provincial Director, the Municipal Local Government Office Officers (MLGOO), and the Provincial Legal Officer were actively involved in training as trainers and facilitators. Four (4) Local Government Units (LGU) (Polomolok, Tampakan, Surallah and Tupi) and four (4) barangays (Poblacion-Tupi, Ned, & Lamfugon in Lake Sebu, and Kipalbig, Tampakan) had expressed their interest as well to counterpart for the conduct of the BJA Training.