The Way Forward: Empowering Civil Society and Political Parties in the Bangsamoro
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The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Philippines Office and Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) held a public conference entitled “The Way Forward: Empowering Civil Society and Political Parties in the Bangsamoro” which took place on January 26, 2017 at Discovery Primea Manila. This event marked the ending implementation phase of the European Union-funded 18-month project “Democratic Party Development Bangsamoro” (DEPAdev).
The event was attended by more than 100 guests including representatives of the Philippine Government, the European Union Delegation to the Philippines and the diplomatic corps. During the event, panelists shared their views regarding the current political situation in Mindanao including the development of basic democratic institutions.
Benedicto Bacani, Executive Director of IAG, highlighted in his presentation that the DEPAdev project was an important tool of the peace process by encouraging stronger participation of civil society in political affairs. He pointed out how the training for other trainers can lead to an informed, educated and self-empowered civil society and political parties.
“The goal is to strengthen groups which have the right of getting involved in everyday politics, especially the marginalized ones. Their participation will help forming strong political parties and there will be an opportunity to have meaningful political parties in the Bangsamoro,” Atty. Benedicto Bacani, IAG Executive Director, said.
Seeing the need for an empowered civil society as a foundation for peace and participatory democracy, the DEPAdev project aimed at promoting genuine political parties and movements within the future autonomous region Bangsamoro. Access to political decision-making for civil society actors representing different social groups is the key component. For this non-partisan approach, political training activities were implemented throughout the year 2016 which addressed various political groups inside the future Bangsamoro entity. Trainers from various countries in Southeast Asia and Europe lectured on both basic and more advanced political issues based on the principle of catering toeach group’s specific needs.
This approach in peace-building which focuses on the political empowerment of civil society and membership-based parties lays out a curriculum that enables the people to shape the future of politics through active participation and meaningful self-determination – rather than being subject to clan – and personality-based politics. Through the inclusion of lessons learnt from other peace processes, DEPAdev can serve as a role model for conflict resolution and sustainable peace in a global context.
The European Union will continue its support of the Bangsamoro peace process and it was announced that a new project which also targets the empowerment of democratic political parties and civil society groups in this part of postconflict-affected part in Southern Philippines will start in 2017.