Mandaya Youth Empowered to Become Agents of Peace in Hinterland Village

14 Aug 2020EO 70/ EO 13 (ELCAC), Peace and Development, Youth

BY Van Jorain Rufin

LUPON, DAVAO ORIENTAL – The Mandaya youth in the hinterland village of Maragatas in the municipality of Lupon have signified their commitment to become agents of peace and to play an active role in making their community more peaceful.

On August 5 to 7, around 130 Mandaya youth here have convened for the three-day Indigenous Peoples – Mandaya Maragatas Youth Leadership Summit 2020.

With the theme “Batan-on: Nagkahiusa alang sa Pagpahunong sa Armadong Pakigbisog,” the activity specifically aims to engage the youth sector while empowering them to have active participation in issues concerning their ancestral domain, specifically issues surrounding peace and order in their community which was once infested with the Communist-Terrorist Group New People’s Army.

Facilitators from the youth group YFPMDO came from the towns of Caraga, Tarragona, City of Mati, San Isidro, Governor Generoso and Lupon, all in Davao Oriental.

These young participants walked several kilometers from their remote sitios to gather at Logdeck Elementary School where the activity was held.

Tribal Chieftain James Pichon emotionally welcomed the delegates

These participants came from eight different sitios of Barangay Maragatas, namely: Logdeck, Sigang, Banaybanay, Paradise, Tagaras, Piagdogan, Catumbal, Camaruyan and Maragdao which are all recognized as Ancestral Domains in the municipality of Lupon.

During the summit, a series of activities took place which include team-building activities, competitions and processing sessions.  They also crafted their own action plans and elected their own set of officers who are tasked to pave the way for the realization of these plans.

Wearing face masks in compliance to the minimum health protocols amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the participants eagerly listen to various speakers who provided inputs to widen their young minds’ horizons in terms of peace-building.

Mr. Benjamin Pacetes III, RN of the Municipal Health Office oriented the participants on how they can keep themselves and their communities safe amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. He also reminded the participants to continue to exercise the minimum health protocols like regular handwashing, proper wearing of face masks and physical distancing.

Executive Assistant and Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) Vice-Chairperson Mr. Ednar G. Dayanghirang expressed his gratitude to the young participants, their parents, and to the whole tribal council on their enthusiasm in engaging with the provincial government to solve the decades-long problem in the insurgency.

Mr. Ednar G. Dayanghirang, Vice-Chairperson of the Provincial Task Force on Ending Local Communism Armed Conflict and the Chief of Staff of the Provincial Governor’s Office

Well-versed in the area of peace dialogues and peace-building, Mr. Dayanghirang presented the provincial government’s plans for the IPs which is anchored in the overall framework of the PTF-ELCAC by the virtue of the Executive Order 70 issued by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Atty. James Ian Generale, legal officer of NCIP Davao Oriental provided lecture on the Republic Act 8371 or Indigenous Peoples Rights Act which recognizes and promotes the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities of the Philippines.

Attorney James Ian General, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Provincial Legal Officer

National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) representative Mr. Hernie Mabalo discussed the history of the protracted war waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) against the government. He explained that this resulted to further poverty and strife in many hinterland communities.

Mr. Hernie Mabalo of National Intelligence Coordinating Agency XI

28th Infantry Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Banatao talked about the vital role of the youth in keeping their ancestral domain peaceful and immune to the infiltration of the communist-terrorist group NPA. He also urged their active participation in peace-building efforts by the government and partners.

Other personalities present are Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Banatao, Commander of 28th Infantry Battalion, Municipal Councilor Edna Bote of Lupon, NCIP Legal Officer Attorney James Ian A. Generale, NICA representative Hernie A. Mabalo, DOH representative Benjamin Pacetes III, and Punong Barangay Beverly Rebalde of Maragatas also graced the opening ceremony.

Civil-Military Operations Officer of 28 IB First Lieutenant Justin Carlo Yu discussed how the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist CPP and its armed wing NPA infiltrated the youth sector of many communities through brainwashing them and recruiting them for the armed struggle. He also presented some ways how the youth can protect themselves from recruitment.

First Lieutenant Justin Carlo Yu, Civil-Military Operations Officer of 28th Infantry KAMAGONG Battalion Philippine Army

Miss Jonitha Edlay, the newly-elected Board of Trustee President of IP YFPMDO – Maragatas, Lupon Chapter expressed her deepest gratitude to the provincial government headed by Governor Nelson Dayanghirang and its peace and development stakeholders through the PTF-ELCAC.

The participants of the youth summit automatically became members of the youth group YFPMDO that served geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas through Lumon community projects and conducted youth leadership summits to different areas in the province since 2009.

The youth summit was organized by the Provincial Government of Davao Oriental through the Provincial Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC), Barangay Government of Maragatas, Tribal Council of Maragatas, the 28th Infantry Kamagong Battalion Philippine Army, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Department of Health (DOH), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and Youth for Peace Movement Davao Oriental (YFPMDO). By Van Jorain O. Rufin/Photos Courtesy of Youth for Peace

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