Mr. Rodelio Ambangan, Melody’s husband. He directs the college’s Institute for Peace and Development Studies and is the chairperson of the Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement, an alliance of more than 100 organizations encompassing 30,000 to 40,000 indigenous peoples from Mindanao’s three major tribes and many smaller ones.
“I learned peacebuilding first and foremost from my home,” says Rodelio, referring to both his family home with Melody and his larger home among his peoples, the Erumanen ne Menuvu. “Indigenous people are peace loving,” he adds. Under the stress of survival threatened by conflict and natural disasters, though, some of the peace traditions have been in danger of disappearing. Rodelio works at reminding his people, “We have our own ways of doing restorative justice and it’s not just human, but also done in consultation with the Spirits.”
The researcher who belongs to the Manobo ethnic group of Mindanao is the Director for Extension of Southern Christian College. Currently, he is finishing his Ph.D. in Conflict Transformation Studies in the Pannasastra University of Cambodia where he is pursuing qualitative-action research. He is also serving as the three-term Chairman of the Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement.
Engagements of Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Leaders in the Process of Peace
The indigenous peoples have been experiencing structural exclusion and misrepresentation of their voice in the MILF-GPH peace negotiation; thus this study emphasizes their various engagements in representing their legitimate voice in the process of peace. The primary goal was to document and analyze the experiences of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in working for inclusive peace with state and non-state actors. The study used the framework of Inclusivity which developed during the 7th annual Meeting on Negotiations entitled Broadening and Deepening Participation in Peace Negotiations held in Berlin in September 2015 and published by Berghof Foundation. The study made use of the Case Study approach on the three significant IPs such as the Erumanen ne Menuvu, Teduray, and Tinenanen in Central Mindanao.
It uses descriptive research design to explore and explain the experiences of participants in their engagements in working for a comprehensive peace. The data was gathered through Key Informant Interview (KII), Focus Group Interview (FGI), and Case Story. Taba inductive strategy was used as a method to analyze the data and in describing the case and developing the themes. Through the responses of IP leaders within and in the adjoining Bangsamoro territory, it was found out that engagements took place in different levels – local grassroots communities, national executive agencies, and national legislative bodies. Based on the conclusion, it was recommended to build the capacity of the IPs to engage in the peace process, and help in designing local peace structures which include the building of networks and partners.