Children Lead Celebration Of First-Ever Conflict Resolution Day
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Thirty students from the Old Balara Elementary School made their voices heard in three places today to celebrate Conflict Resolution Day at the Malacanang Palace, in an audience with Speaker Jose De Venecia at Shangri-la Makati, and in the Philippine Business Council at the Manila Hotel.
Conflict Resolution Day was declared by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through the issuance of Proclamation 1152. To be celebrated on October 19, 2006 and every third Thursday of October thereafter, the event aims to promote awareness of Alternative Dispute Resolution processes and non-adversarial approaches to conflict, and to recognize the contribution of conflict resolvers.
The children, aged 9-12 years old, who are part of the BATANG TAGAPAMAGITAN PROGRAM, a specialized peer mediation program for elementary school children, wanted to urge the nation to use mediation because they have that mediation works. In just two months, they mediated 29 school disputes, of which 24 were successfully settled.
The BATANG TAGAPAMAGITAN PROGRAM trained young elementary children in mediating disputes among their peers. It was developed and piloted by the Conflict Resolution Group Foundation (CoRe Group) at the Old Balara Elementary School in Quezon City, in cooperation with the Department of Education. The CoRe Group President, Professor Annabelle T. Abaya said that the program aims to reduce violence, aggression and disruptive behavior among elementary students, while encouraging them to resolve their own disputes peacefully, enhancing collaboration and communication among students, teachers, administrators, and parents, and providing them skills on peaceful resolution of conflicts.
The children’s first stop was the Malacanang Palace where they were warmly met by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita. They read a manifesto thanking the Office of the President for pushing for the declaration of Conflict Resolution Day and for instituting Alternative Dispute Resolution processes to be taught and installed in all departments under the Office of the President (Executive Order 523). As a special treat, ES Ermita gave the children a tour of the Malacanang Museum.
They then headed off to meet Speaker Jose De Venecia Jr at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. They hoped to persuade more people to their mediation advocacy. The children hoorayed an d cheered, and thanked the Speaker for sponsoring the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004. Speaker De VEnecia beamed at learning of the childrent’s achievements in mediation. He encouraged them to continue in making mediation work in their school and admonished them to share their experience with other children who will benefit from their new skills.
Their final stop was the Philippine Business Conference held at the Manila Hotel where the business community also celebrated Conflict Resolution Day by formally inaugurating the NATIONAL CENTER FOR MEDIATION. PBC guest speaker and to mediation advocate, Professor Annabelle T. Abaya, shared the vision of the National Center for Mediation to make mediation the first choice in the resolution of business conflicts. She then introduced the children and adult mediators who marched their way toward the crowd of business leaders, while cheering the celebration of Conflict Resolution Day and rallying business to promote mediation. They were warmly greeted by Ambassador Donald Dee who thanked and congratulated the young mediators for showing adults the way toward non-adversarial approaches to conflict resolution.