By Florangel Rosario Braid
In my last piece, I focused on the rebuilding of Marawi as a city of peace, primarily focusing on the physical, environmental, historical, and cultural aspects. Of course I mentioned the integration of stories of those affected by the 154-day conflict, especially the evacuees.
Let me now dwell on the human development aspect, and the planning that needs to be done in ensuring that the psychosocial needs of the residents are addressed. The admirable work of the military in ensuring the welfare of those traumatized by war must continue. It will be a lengthy process that would require the collaboration of multisectoral assistance agencies – psychologists and mental health counselors, entrepreneurs who will provide training and networking assistance, legal and paralegal practitioners, faith communities, and other caregivers. There will be need to provide employment or alternative education to out-of-school youth who are vulnerable to recruitment attempts by terrorist groups. Of course the defeat of the Mautes and their foreign terrorist leaders has made the ISIS ideology less attractive today.
Now is the time to start thinking of what is necessary to achieve the desired vision of a model community. We have often dreamt of how we can bring our diverse groups to work and live together in harmony. Marawi offers that opportunity because its residents come from diverse cultures – Christians, Moros, lumads, and other indigenous groups.
Marawi can provide the ideal prototype of an autonomous local government. It can introduce innovations in governance such as establishing regional and global integration, the goal of which would be the creation of regional and global institutions that promote the interests and rights of all.
Among others, these would include institutional innovations such as an ASEAN center that would promote regional peace and stability. Or a “human rights-based approach” to Education for All. Another desired vision perhaps is a public broadcast system which will be owned and managed by representatives of sectoral groups. And a testing ground for environmentally friendly technologies.
And because it has a population that is culturally diverse, Marawi could become a City of Peace, as Architect Palafox envisioned. It could lead in trying out new concepts of governance, community, and enterprise innovation, and introduce as well new concepts in measuring progress and well-being.
It could provide the opportunity to test controversial concepts like human rights. While our country and the West may share a common definition of human rights and democracy, several countries in Asia do not share this definition. Former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kwan Yew had expressed sometime ago that this Western definition does not work in several Asian countries which have their own tradition of democracy based on the rule of law, and respect for the people. But the Asian Human Rights Charter which is anchored on the universalism of human rights rejects Asian values and cultural relativism. As we now realize, this difference in perception has given rise to conflicts such as that of the West Philippine Sea.
We dream of the rise of a new community, which is what Marawi will soon become, perhaps because our communities have been found wanting. Too, we pray that those with pure hearts and vision would come forward to help in what we think is one of the most noble challenges of our times.
My email, Florangel.firstname.lastname@example.org
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