by Garie Briones
At the conclusion of the first phase of the Community Policing Project, the Community Policing Team together with British Council’s Country Director Nick Thomas had a chit chat with Ambassador Asif Ahmad to apprise him on the project developments one year hence.
Phill Thomson, Project Team Leader, talked about the project’s milestones. These are:
- Implementation of the project in 34 communities across 7 provinces in the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao (ARMM provinces plus Lanao del Sur and North Cotabato) and 32 Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
- Conduct of a baseline study to gauge the communities’ level of knowledge on the community policing and understand their perspectives on law enforcers and their local peace and order situation.
- Face-to-face awareness consultation done with 23,623 people
- 834,000 people made aware of what community policing is as a philosophy and its main elements through different media platforms. Audience ranged from ordinary citizens to police staff in all regions in PRO-ARMM, and those police officers, who were undergoing training programmes in colleges run by Philippine Public Safety College—the training arm of the police, jail and fire bureaus.
- Convening of a technical working group composed of senior representatives from key security and policing agencies of the government and civil society organisations (Conciliation Resources and Moro Islamic Liberation Front). With a total membership of 11 individuals, the TWG was instrumental in helping shape the community policing strategy toolkit. A document that is Filipino in context and is owned by the communities from conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.
- Training of around 110 facilitators who took the lead in conducting awareness raising and consultation sessions in covered areas. These were a mix group of trainers from the police, MILF, instructors from the police college and civil society groups.
- Development of the main product of the project: A Community Policing Toolkit for the Bangsamoro. In a nutshell, the toolkit is divided into two parts. The first part contains the background of the project, design, methodology and community policing as a concept and its accompanying elements. The latter part contains the 74 key elements presented in matrix form that represent some practical options that should act as guide for the implementation of community policing in a certain area. The toolkit represents the initiatives and 74 practical steps that can be undertaken to operationalize the five key elements on which the community policing strategy for conflict-affected areas in Mindanao is based.
Ambassador Ahmad shared some of his thoughts on the project. He appreciates the fact that the project adds value to and further complements the UK government’s involvement in the peace process in Mindanao. Indeed, the project has shown so much potential and underscores what community involvement and ownership can do to development work. It raised the profile of the British Council and changed some individual behaviours and personal attitudes on community policing. Thus, it is crucially important that project developments are kept in the public domain by bringing stories from the ground to Manila, for instance. To the Ambassador, in the end the project should be able to shine a light not just on the Bangsamoro but also help change mindsets through a model that every police office should know and understand by heart.