From June 19 to June 21, 2019, The IAHV Philippines team, in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philipines (AFP), visited three areas in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao. We conducted peacebuilding introductory workshops among the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an insurgent group, former Maute-ISIS returnees and local government units.
It was the first time ever that these groups were together. Although the tension and uncertainty was high in the beginning, we are happy to report that it was a resounding success! The sessions were productive, the participants were involved, and there was an overwhelming feeling of hope over the three days.
Imagine what else we can do!
We’d like to share some testimonies from the participants:
“(The) MILF brothers are the happiest. They are not crying outwardly, but inside, they are crying with joy because of this camaraderie. Our troops really want this to happen again especially since our families need it” –Sommy Mangandog Panda “Commander Bangladesh”, 101st Command, Northeasatern Mindanao Front, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
“Before we couldn’t sleep. We feared that the military would run after us. We fear our fellow ISIS co-fighters because they want to kill us. We felt (because of the activities) that this is how to release anger in your life. It was peaceful. It can help us, our children and our families. Because sometimes we don’t know how to release and control our anger.” -“Randy”, Former Dawla Islamiah (Maute ISIS)
“We are very happy that we saw the cooperation between the troops of MILF and the Philippine Government. I am so happy! I have been dreaming of this for a long time, wherein the struggles of both sides will result in achieving true peace for all the youth and citizens of the entire Mindanao.” -Ahmad Sabilullah Lintuan, 101st Command, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
“I…quote from one of the commanders how he wished that his comrades were alive to see this day, to see that they have finally won peace together with the soldiers and the community. And everything they fought for was not in vain.” -Capt. Ron Villarosa, Jr. 103rd Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, Philippine Army