ARMM holds dialogue with Marawi youth leaders
ILIGAN CITY – To address issues facing the youth who are affected by the ongoing crisis in the Islamic City of Marawi, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (ARMM) Office on Bangsamoroyouth Affairs (OBYA), in coordination with the National Youth Commission (NYC), recently held a dialogue here with youth sector representatives.
About 100 youth leaders from different organizations in Marawi City shared the challenges and problems they are facing with suggestions on how to solve those problems. Participants were given the chance to contribute their ideas in building stronger and more resilient communities. This served as the venue for youth leaders to directly voice out thoughts on significant issues in their city, organizers said.
“We are here to listen and we want to understand your real situation,” NYC Chairperson Aiza Seguerra said.
Key points raised during the discussion centered on the role of the youth in battling terrorism, discrimination on the Filipino Muslims, scholarships for students, and efforts of the government to help internally displaced persons in the city. During the forum, participants appealed to Seguerra to help them spread the message especially on discrimination against Muslims.
“Magkaiba man tayo ng relihiyon lagi nyong tatandaan na we are also against Muslim discrimination, makakaasa po kayo sa suporta ko sa inyo dahil iisa po ang ating mithiin at yun ay ang kapayapaan,” Seguerra said. “We are all brothers, a little sensitivity will not hurt.”
Amir Mawallil, OBYA Executive Director, emphasized the need to face the problem of radicalism and discussed possible ways to counter the violent ideology of terror groups in the region.
“We need to listen to the voices of youth and understand how we can all better engage in preventing and countering violent extremism in all its various forms,” he said, noting that such discrimination is one reason why radical movements and other forms of extremism have attracted young Muslims in previous years.
“We need to act and assert more strongly against violence because this cannot be the start of another cycle of displacement. We need to listen to the voices of the youth and understand how we can all better engage in preventing and countering violent extremism in all its various forms,” he added.
Jalilah Hadji Sapiin, 25, a youth leader from the village of Raya Saduc in Marawi City said she is willing to encourage young individuals not to join the terror groups.
“Karamihan sa mga sumasali sa grupo ng mga terorista ay mga kabataan, kaya dapat maengganyo natin ang kapwa kabataan na may magandang kinabukasan nakalaan sa atin kung patuloy natin isusulong ang kapayapaan. Patunayan natin na tayong mga kabataan ang tunay na pag-asa ng bayan,” she said.
Seguerra told the participants that “If all of us will speak one language and send a unified message, then we will definitely be heard and we are with you, we will always be with you.”
Seguerra said she heard several disturbing stories on how Muslim women were discriminated. “Young girls who were wearing hijab, the veil traditionally worn by female Muslims, were called names, including terrorists. No matter what religion, or culture, we belong to, we are all brothers,” she said.
NYC Commissioner-atlarge James Ventura also encouraged the youth in the ARMM to establish a network for the voice of the Moro youth. “Kapag nabuo ninyo ang youth network dito, mas madali kayong maririnig, dahil hindi lamang isang boses ng kabataan ang magsasallita kung hindi buong Moro youth,” Ventura said.
The OBYA-ARMM previously conducted a consultation and congress for the youth across the province of Lanao del Sur. The OBYA and NYC have committed to draft and submit a position paper echoing the youth’s demands and proposals for the national government’s rehabilitation plan for Marawi City based on the recently held dialogue.