By Martin Sadongdong
The military highlighted the role of the youth in preventing and countering violent extremism as they are deemed the most vulnerable targets of extremist groups.
Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto, commanding general of the Philippine Army (PA), spearheaded a youth forum at the Notre Dame of Jolo College in Jolo, Sulu Monday which centered on the young generation’s role in preventing and countering violent extremism (PCVE).
Captain Sherhannah Paiso, Philippine Military Academy (PMA) chief of education branch and a PCVE expert, said the young ones were usually the ones falling prey into becoming violent extremists.
“The youth are very emotional since they are not yet equipped with critical thinking skills. If they talk to someone who is manipulative and who tend to manipulate the verses of the Quran in their own advantage, then they might be believing that,” Paiso said.
She said PCVE “is all about prevention by recognizing the signs, particularly the push and pull factors of someone becoming a violent extremist.”
“Discrimination and lack of economic opportunity are just some of the push factors, while the pull factors come from these threat groups who try to entice the youth especially those under the poverty line by giving them money, firearms and false promises,” she noted.
Alberto said educating the youth on the dangers of joining threat groups will help the government in thwarting extremism and terrorism in the country.
“Our intention is to stop terrorism, to stop the recruitment of our youth to join these terrorist groups and hope we will have a successful effort and we will have a good future,” the Army Chief stated.
“If we get the youth to denounce terrorism, we may put an end to terrorism,” he added.
Meanwhile, Probationary 2nd Lieutenant Matteo Guidicelli also attended the forum and emphasized the Muslim’s youth as one of the country’s foundations in advancing the nation’s peace and development processes through PCVE.
Guidicelli said he wanted to erase the stigma against Muslim youths.
“We hold a very,very strong part in our country and we can create a big change in the future. I want to show them how big of hearts you guys have,” Guidicelli told the Muslim youths.