This is a but an attempt, a short glimpse to tell the story of Ma. Lourdes C. Martinez, the hip and cool Outcomes Manager of the Department of Interior and Local Government in the Province of Surigao Del Sur, and how she responded to the tasks of working for peace in her community
Ma’am “Badz” as she is popularly known is the most visible figure of a working local government, especially in breakouts of violence and its after-effects such as displacements.
Ma’am Badz is very noticeable, not because of the signature bangs or boots she wears, but because of her very calm demeanor. She does not push stakeholders into something they do not agree to but she is fiercely passionate about putting the interests of the victims of violence always on the table, that this should be the focal point of convergence.
Balay Mindanaw found a long-time advocate for peace with Ma’am Badz. She has been open to learn about how to make her work better, even attending international conferences to know more about other conflict contexts. Likewise, Ma’am Badz has a lot to offer on how government officials can do more for peace.
Here are Ma’am Badz’s answers to our questions:
1) What led you to work for peace?
It was in 1999, when I became a full pledged local government operations officer assigned in San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. As an MLGOO (Municipal Local Government Operations Officer), by mandate, I eventually became the head of the secretariat of the Municipal Peace and Order Council of that local government unit.
As the head secretariat of the municipal peace and order council, my task was to handle the administrative and technical activities of the Municipal Peace and Order Council, organized in the LGU. Specifically, the Secretariat shall prepare plans and programs for the consideration of the Council; supervise, direct and monitor, for the Council, implementation of approved policies, plans and programs; undertake liaisoning and coordination of activities with appropriate agencies of the government and provide a forum for interdisciplinary dialogue and deliberation of major issues and problems affecting peace and order.
My involvement then was few and limited only to the mandated – duties and responsibilities particularly on the assessment and functionalization of the municipal and barangay peace and order councils.
The most significant aspect of peace work that I am still doing right now is through linkage building between and among the stakeholders from the barangays, municipal and provincial peace councils and the affected communities. Assistance to local authorities in facilitating, providing spaces for dialogues and in the preparation of local peace and order plans of the local government units are also my regular work in the peace council.
2) What moved you to continue your work?
Peace work became a passionate desire over and above the mandated duties and functions that I have in the local peace council.
It was when, after I first experienced the unfortunate raid of the municipal hall and police station by the NPAs in San Agustin, Surigao del Sur on August 15, 2005. After my assignment in San Agustin, on November 17, 2007, when I was about to report to my new area of assignment in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur, another dreadful attack of the NPAs happened.
These incidents were like a wakeup call for me. It caused me to pause and reflect. I was baffled with many unanswered questions. The effects of violence and unpeace in our communities are far-reaching. The socio-economic disparity is wide and noticeable. While unresponsiveness, corruption, dirty politics are rampant in the local government units. Impunity on the abuses committed by the military and police are common.
It also helps to remember that some of life’s greatest challenges end up being our greatest teachers. You may not be able to control what happens, but you can decide what lessons you choose to learn from them.
3) Why do you think women/youth should be involved in peace work?
The women and youth have a bearing on their leadership potential and their possible role in peace building. Empowering the women and involving the youth in peace work are much more beneficial, constructive and practical than simply leaving them behind as susceptible war victims and their voices unheard.
Women and youth are potential positive forces for peace in the community that can help ease and sensitize the conflict situation. They can be good advocates for social cohesion and in building peace in the community.
Women should be more involved in peace work on the aspect of participation in decision making processes, particularly in integrating women concerns and protection in the peace and development plans.
To guarantee that women and youth are part of the efforts for peace, stakeholders should understand and acknowledged gender equality and the role of youth in nation building. Specific and responsive programs for women and youth should be mainstreamed in the comprehensive development plans and budget
4) What issues of peace do you think should be addressed?
Among the issues that should be addressed right now, are the displacement of lumad communities and the poor socio-economic conditions of the vulnerable sectors and communities.
The issues that should be strategically addressed in the future: Military framed interventions and solutions have failed to bring stability and the issues on inequality, injustice and exclusion.