SAC-LEGAZPI’S PEACE BUILDING AND HUMAN RIGHTS INITIATIVES

For the last 39 years, the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Legaspi has continuously propagated the seed of advocacy towards the promotion of peace and the protection of human rights through various projects and activities aimed at bringing awareness among the people from various sectors and at all levels. The different initiatives undertaken has in one way or another, empowered community leaders and has established and strengthened partnership between and among the different Government and Non-Government Organizations including the civil society. SAC-Legazpi’s peace building and human rights programs is categorized into three components focusing on institutional organization, documentation and research, and trainings and formation.

As part of strengthening the organization, multi-sectoral networks were established and partnership were forged. Among these is the creation of the Andurog kan Derechos, a Multi-Sectoral Quick Reaction Team (MSQRT) organized in October 2009 aimed at addressing cases of Extralegal Killings (ELK) and Enforced Disappearances (ED) in the Province of Albay. The MSQRT serves as a one-stop assistance center where victims and/or their families can report human rights violations, specifically violations of civil and political rights. It has gained support and cooperation from the different member-institutions from government and non-government organizations, other Church-based institutions, civil society organizations, the academe, and the security forces. At present, it has conducted/facilitated series of human rights awareness campaigns at the parish level and capacity building activities at the provincial and regional level. It has also facilitated at least four (4) ELK related cases and the local church has accommodated victims/witnesses for sanctuary. SAC has also supported the creation of the Bicol Consortium for Peace Education and Development (BCPED) by being an active member. BCPED is aimed to lead in the conduct of advocacy campaigns that will raise the consciousness of Bicolanos and engage them on peace and development issues and activities. Furthermore, its has hosted/co-organized the conduct of the Bicol-Southern Luzon Peace Workshop held in October 2008 wherein, the Bicol Ecumenical Peace Platform-Working Group (BEPP-WG) was organized and facilitated the conduct of a Trainers’ Training on Peace Building.

Series of research studies and documentation activities were also conducted. Among which are a faith-based peace-building toolkit and training module entitled “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace: A Toolkit on Peace-Building Experiences of Church-Based Organizations in Bicol (2005)”. Another report came out on “Peace-Building Experiences of Church-Based Organizations in Bicol (2005)” which is the result of the documentation on theme Church-based peace-building experience in the Bicol Region. As commissioned by the Human Development Network, it has also developed a “Case Study on the Human Development and Economic Costs and Spillovers of Armed Conflict in Bicol (2005)”. Moreover, an attempt to document stories of extrajudicial killings in Bicol was done through the “Harrowing Tales of Extrajudicial Killings: A Test of Faith among Widows and/or Mothers in Bicol (2008)”. This paper also explores the faith-based coping mechanisms and other strategies to overcome the harrowing experiences among the families of the victims.

Empowering the people is given much value through the conduct of trainings, seminars, and workshop/s. Among the initiated activities of Andurog kan Derechos are the following: Human Rights Awareness Campaigns, Training on Human Rights Mainstreaming Program, Training on Human Rights Investigation and Documentation, Training on Enhancing Helping Skills in Crisis Situations, Paralegal Training for Human Rights Workers, Forensic Training-Workshop, and Regional Forum on Extralegal Killings and Enforced Disappearances. In November 2007, SAC initiated a Healing Workshop for Widows (Survivors) of War. The processes undertaken were documented and became part of the research study on the “Harrowing Tales of Extrajudicial Killings: A Test of Faith among Widows and/or Mothers in Bicol”.

The series of projects and activities implemented by SAC-Legazpi reflects the Church’s steadfast desire to uphold the dignity of the person and in providing spiritual leadership towards the pursuit of justice and peace.

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