COTABATO CITY – The youth in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) are making their presence felt as they vowed to actively participate in peace-building activities in the region.
On Tuesday, lawyer Al-Rashid Balt, director-general of the BARMM Ministry of Public Order and Safety (MPOS), said his agency believed the youth can be an effective sector to help bring about peace in Moro communities.
“The youth activities shall have a coordinative function with law enforcement agencies such as military and police, among others, to maintain public order and safety. We have a lot of joint programs with them on peace-building,” Balt said.
He said the training workshop for peace promotion in the region for the second batch of participants has just ended on October 2 in Datu Odin Sinsuat and the youth have returned to their respective communities “armed with desires and knowledge on the value of peace-building.”
He said providing space for the youth to actively participate in peace-building also aimed at actualizing the mandates of the MPOS as an institution of peace-building, reconciliation, and unification.
“Most of the participants were youths and university students,” he said.
Sittie Janine M. Gamao, peacebuilding program officer, said after the training, the MPOS learned that the youth who attended the workshop were all from conflict-affected communities across the region.
“They (youth) were victims of atrocities. Some were sons and daughters of Abu Sayyaf surrenderers,” Gamao said of the youth from the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, and Special Geographical Area of North Cotabato composed of 63 villages that are now part of BARMM.
She said the workshop also provided the youth with strategies on how to end the cycle of violence.
“At a young age, they have learned how to help resolve the conflict and a peaceful and collaborative manner,” Gamao added.
Thankful youth peace-builders
“I am so thankful as one of the fellows. It is so helpful to improve myself as a youth leader and bring something to my community as I get back,” said Fadwa Mohammad, a 19-year-old youth leader from Basilan.
“We want to educate and promote peace to the youths by providing learning materials to the madrasah in our municipality. It is written in our planning as immediate intervention,” she added.
Niman P. Datu, another fellow from a remote village of Tapocan Piagapo, Lanao del Sur, said partaking in the peace-building activity was a huge opportunity for him so he can effectively help build harmony among communities in his province.
“What I learned will be used to help educate my town mates, majority of whom have no formal education,” Datu added.
Amila I. Panulong of Lanao del Sur said for her, “peace is not just the absence of war but a time when everyone is free to do what he or she wants without fear.”
The youth were asked to submit proposals for their information dissemination program that the MPOS will fund in the amount of PHP20,000 per province. (PNA)