It’s been a year since the city launched the Peace 911 program in the hinterlands using a human-centered approach to development which means taking into cognizance cultural diversity, social justice and participatory decision making .
Peace 911 reached out to 13 barangays in Paquibato district and one barangay in Calinan district, identified as underserved and reported to be under the influence of the New People’s Army. This came after efforts to localize the peace talks initiated by Mayor Sara failed to materialize. On Sept. 12, 2017, she signed Executive Order No. 34 creating the Davao City Local Peace Committee or the DC-Peace to pursue peace negotiations with the local counterpart of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The rebels however rejected the idea of a localized peace talks claiming that it will only serve to “divide” the revolutionary forces. In December 2017, after the failed peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front , Pres. Duterte signed Proclamation No. 374 declaring the NPA a terrorist organization. This effectively stopped all efforts to pursue peacetalks here.
The program, as envisioned, provides communities access to basic services and targets poverty alleviation, education and health services as priority challenges that could lead to better community engagement with the city. For instance, according to Lorna Mandin, head of the Integrated Gender and Development Office, one of the first activities they had in May last year was educating IP women on how to plant vegetables using the technology of urban container gardening. She said not only does it have a gender impact as women no longer have to go far to care for their farm, it also gave them time to care for themselves and their children.
One cannot just count the military gains in assessing Peace 911. The essence of the program is supporting communities find ways to improve their quality of life and be able to imagine their own sustainable development goals.