By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – More than 200 indigenous peoples (IP ) youth leaders from across Mindanao were given an orientation on the “whole-of-nation approach,” a government stride designed to address communism and its threats in the countryside in Cagayan de Oro City.
The three-day gathering was launched on Wednesday by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, and the Mindanao IP Youth Organization (MIPYO), with support from the United Nations Development Programme through its Peace-building Fund, OPAPP said.
It pursues the sectoral unification, capacity-building, and empowerment cluster under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in line with Executive Order No. 70’s Whole-Of-Nation Approach.
The approach enjoins local government units, agencies and other stakeholders situated in conflict-affected areas to take the lead in recommending solutions to the root causes of the decades-long communist insurgency.
“This activity is very important. Our IP youth sector is very vulnerable (to exploitation) by the Communist Terrorist Group. It is our moral obligation to guide and save them from the tentacles of terror and violence. We have to mentor, educate them, make them productive and active pillars of their communities,” OPAPP Secretary Carlito Galvez said in.
During the assembly, MIPYO chairperson Albin James Binayao revealed that there were past youth gatherings on peace and development, but these did not give them the opportunity to propose realistic solutions that would help uplift their well-being.
“We (felt) being treated like children. We should put an end to this cycle. We should speak out. We should tell them (government agencies) what we exactly need so they can help us,” Bianayao was quoted as telling fellow IP youth.
OPAPP said the MIPYO was born amid such sentiment and is now embarking on visits to key national government agencies in Manila to bring to their attention the challenges being confronted by Mindanao’s lumad youth.