Two Warring Families Sign Peace Accord in Mindanao

Davao City, Mindanao, January 30, 2008 — The Asia Foundation Announces Settlement of Imam-Macapeges RidoFor over six years, the families of Kahir Macapeges and Nasser Imam have engaged in a notoriously bloody war that has left nine relatives and two bystanders dead and 13 wounded. In the small municipality of Matanog in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the former mayor and his political rival and successor have been embroiled in seemingly endless conflict over disputed 2001 election results. Throughout Mindanao, ongoing wars between families have escalated to claim the lives of more than 5,500 in the last three decades. Commonly called rido, this violent form of family vengeance has plagued communities and hampered broader peace efforts in the region. Today, members of the Macapeges and Imam families will meet in Davao City to sign a peace covenant and conduct a reconciliation ceremony.

The Imam-Macapeges resolution ends one of the region’s most infamous disputes that wrought devastating emotional losses, destruction to property, and – because security resources were sometimes focused on protecting the two political figures –often disrupted day-to-day municipal governance. This settlement comes after a series of strategic interventions designed by The Asia Foundation, with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and conducted by mediators from Community Organizers Multiversity and supported by the ARMM Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission. Since 2007, the Foundation has supported capacity building for local peace mediators, and its local partners have helped to resolve 42 rido cases, such as the Imam-Macapeges feud.

Foundation Program Officer Wilfredo Torres states, “Resolving rido is always a collective effort as every member of a community can have important roles to play in preventing, managing, and settling conflicts. The beauty of rido settlements, culminating in reconciliation ceremonies, is that they are witnessed and celebrated by the community. Such events not only affirm the capacities of local people to better their situation, but also renew communities and inspire hope in others that reconciliation is possible even with seemingly intractable conflicts.”

Rido is only one aspect in the complex web of violence in Mindanao, which also includes Muslim separatism and communist insurgency. The interaction of these different conflicts has explosive consequences for the long-running separatist war in Mindanao. “For instance,” says Foundation Philippine Country Representative Steven Rood, “this rido has slowed down the recovery of the municipality of Matanog from the destruction caused in the 2000 ‘all-out’ war, when the Armed Forces of the Philippines in July overran the area which was part of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Camp Abubakar. Now, through the efforts of the community and the reconcilation of the two families, the development of Matanog can be reinvigorated.”

A deeper understanding of specific conflicts is crucial to disentangling the blurred lines of conflict and to enable communities and the government to effectively address the problem. Extensive research conducted by The Asia Foundation and analyzed by leading conflict experts was published in last year’s Rido: Clan Feuding and Conflict Management in Mindanao.

Read more about the Foundation’s definitive reference book about rido, called Rido: Clan Feuding and Conflict Management in Mindanao or download an excerpt from the book.

About The Asia Foundation’s Conflict Management Program in the Philippines

The Asia Foundation aims to transform conflicts through increased understanding of the dynamics of the specific conflict, enhanced conflict resolution mechanisms, improved communication channels within affected communities and between government and community groups, and substantive policy-oriented discussions with input from key stakeholders. The Foundation supports academic institutions and civil society organizations throughout Mindanao to design locally-based interventions to manage these conflicts, including a better recognition in media and security services that such conflicts ought not be confused with possible separatist conflict. In the Philippines, The Asia Foundation has been focused on applying conflict resolution strategies to rido since 2002, with generous support since 2003 from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Related programs: Conflict and Fragile Conditions
Related topics: Peacebuilding in Asia

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