Communicators’ forum for peace
The Mindanao Economic Development Council (Medco) organized last 26-27 November in Davao City a forum for government, media and citizen communicators, for peace initiatives in Mindanao. This was done through Medco’s Mindanao Information Network for Development and Peace, or MINDPeace.
It was a well-represented group of concerned parties: there were delegates from mainstream media, non-traditional media outfits such as Mindanao Film & Television Development Foundation, government agencies, the Armed Forces, and from church and civic organizations. The objectives centered around how various entities communicated “Mindanao” to the rest of the world, and what could be achieved to improve this. Much like what was accomplished — or tried to — at Media Nation a few years back. But this time, the initiative came from Mindanaoans.
Supported by the Action for Conflict Transformation (ACT) for Peace Programme, the forum is also seen as a knowledge-sharing venue expected to gather communication practitioners of the various development programs in Mindanao and partner organizations working for Mindanao peace and development, as well as representatives of alternative media, such as bloggers and filmmakers in Mindanao.
I was able to present the purpose and goals of the Mindanao Bloggers Community, and to interface with other organizations, such as Click Mindanao and the Young Moro Professionals Network for possible sharing of ideas and cooperation in joint projects in the foreseeable future.
Although the forum had been in the pipeline for sometime, it came at the heels of the Maguindanao massacre. And it was timely in that it addressed a pressing need to educate the rest of the nation’s communicators in the way they reported on Mindanao issues. In my view, I saw a somewhat more responsible national media — although there were hiccups, such as when a popular broadsheet printed “the lawless Mindanao island” — in its reportage of the mass murders in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
If the forum participants strive to forge on and see the goals through, the MINDPeace forum can be instrumental in influencing the way Mindanao is perceived from now on. There is a very big danger that the efforts of the MB Community and other like-minded groups in presenting a more holistic view of Mindanao, will go down the drain due to the senseless and deplorable crime committed in Maguindanao Province. But if we persevere, we’ll have a good chance of preventing another mass misconception of Mindanao’s image.
But more than that, the communicators’ forum was meant to be a significant contributing factor “to the ongoing formulation of the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework Plan, with emphasis on the role of media and communication, to setting the direction for Mindanao in the next decade.”
The MB Community, for its part, will certainly contribute actively to this effort towards peace and development in Mindanao.