Last 31 January 2019, the Center for Peace Education with support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila, conversed with the women peacekeepers of the North -- the Bontoc Women’s Brigade and the Lagawe Peacekeeping Team.
They are women volunteer peacekeepers in the provinces of Ifugao and Mountain Province who help promote peace in their respective barangays. They also help raise awareness on municipal and barangay ordinances such as o that concern peace, security and the environment. Initially perceived to have been the roles of men, they were encouraged by leaders and fellow women in their communities who believed in their capacity to be effective peacekeepers.
Both groups receive some support from their Local Government Units, and work closely with their local Philippine National Police stations. They do nightly rounds around different barangays to ensure children are home before curfew, and that drinking is kept to a minimum, avoiding rowdy drunken fights in the night. Cases beyond their capacities, such as those that are violent are handed over to the police.
Their peacekeeping role does not end there. They are also information sources of ordinances and activities relating to peace, health and the environment. They are counselors to fellow mothers and youth, among others. They also do interventions, encouraging wives to report cases of abuse to the proper authorities such as Violence against Women and Children (VAWC) desks.
The story of the women peacekeepers in Mountain Province and Ifugao is the inspiration for the “Women’s Agency in Keeping the Peace, Promoting Security: 2019 Women Training on Peacekeeping” of the Center for Peace Education. The project hopes to see the formation of women peacekeeping teams or the increase in women’s participation in existing peacekeeping mechanisms such as peace and order councils to help keep the peace, facilitate conflict resolution, and help avert conflict in selected communities affected by conflict.