European Union delegates meet youth sector for scoping mission

By: UNYPAD ComTeam

COTABATO City / February 6 – European Union EU delegates meet youth sectors to discuss pressing issues confronting the Bangsamoro people particularly the challenges and opportunities of the peace process in Mindanao.

The meeting, held at UNYPAD Office in Cotabato City on January 31, 2018, was aimed to help identify possible effective approaches and strategies for any peace and development intervention in Mindanao especially in conflict-affected areas.

Members of the UNYPAD Executive Council headed by its President Dr. Rahib L Kudto were present during the meeting. He presented the current socio-economic and political context in Mindanao and shared the current peace and development programs in the community.

Among the Moro youth leaders present in the meeting were the Young Advocates for Peace and Development Network (YAPDN) President, Morsidin Husain, and representative of the United Youth of the Philippines- Women (UNYPHIL-Women).

Husain discussed the structural and systemic cause of war in Mindanao and the most pressing issues confronting the Bangsamoro communities.

The EU delegation were comprised of the following personalities namely Xavier Canton, Project Manager, EU Manila, Peter Hazara, Project Manager – EU Bangkok, Helen Steruf, Policy Officer, Jerome Rivere, Jun Rousdy Rosing, Policy Officer, Marco Mezzera, Senior Adviser, and Javier Prieto, Security Adviser – EU Manila.

They expressed their appreciation to the UNYPAD for facilitating the meeting and inviting other youth organizations. “We identify you knowing that the youth are the large segment of the society and also you are emerging leaders that are very instrumental for peace and development,” said Helen Steruf.

“But in a critical side, you are also vulnerable on the possible recruitment of the violent extremist group,” she warned.

In the question of how to prevent violent extremism, Kudto replied that UNYPAD has to strengthen its organizing activities to engage the youth sector proactively.  He also stressed the important role of the youth in advocating the peace process. “In fact, we have on-going interventions with international organizations like The Asia Foundation (TAF) and Conciliation Resources (CR) for preventing violent extremism and promoting the gains of the peace process”, Kudto disclosed.

EU delegates were curious on the future of the peace process considering the fact that it has been facing several challenges, both systemic problem and uncertain issues like the rise of radical ideology.

Husain explained that President Rodrigo Duterte has been unpredictable since he assumed office in 2016. “However, in a positive note, he has been consistent and firm in his statement that he will address the historical injustices against the Bangsamoro people,” Husain said.

“People are hopeful, but it is difficult to predict the future given the inconsistency of the President on the passage of the BBL while he also had the major policy agenda that will address governance and economic issues in the country, which is the shift to federal form of government.” he added.

“Duterte has demonstrated political will and decisive leadership. The burial of the former President Marcos and the war on drugs and terrorism faced various criticisms and opposition from local and international community but he remained firm and consistent to his campaign promises,” he said.

Other youth leaders appealed to the EU delegates to continue their intervention in Mindanao whether the peace process will succeed or fail. They are optimistic that peaceful resolution of the Bangsamoro problem will be achieved in the near future.

Moreover, the young Moro leaders are confident that the Bangsamoro leaders are capable enough in running an effective and efficient future Bangsamoro government.

The following are the members of the UNYPAD Executive Council who were also present during the meeting, Tu Alid Alfonso, Vice President for Internal Affairs, Yusoph S. Lumambas, Secretary General, Dr. Anwar Saluwang, UNYPAD DMC director, Baisanie Macabuat, UNYPAD WAC Chairwoman. Nasrullah Abdullah, member of the UNYPAD Committee on Campaign and Advocacy was also present.

The European Union are among the international organizations that are supportive to the Bangsamoro peace process and development of Mindanao.

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