By Abubakar S. Balabagan with report from Tu Alid Alfonso
PIKIT, North Cotabato (April 23, 2014) – The United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) held its 4-day 5th National Assembly at the Pikit National High School, Pikit North Cotabato hosted by its North Cotabato Provincial Chapter on April 15-18, 2014 participated in by some 350 Bangsamoro youth leaders coming from 20 provincial chapters of the organization established throughout the country.
The theme of the assembly was “Youth Empowerment Towards Establishment of Bangsamoro.”
The UNYPAD National Committees and Offices presented their remarkable accomplishment reports in the first evening of the assembly.
Having attentively listened to the reports, Abdulkarim Montok, UNYPAD North Cotabato Provincial Secretary of the Committee on Da’wah and Education, said: “I was really amazed by the accomplishments of each Office and committee because I know that everything was done voluntarily,”
“This is really beyond our expectations because doing things without financial support from funding donors is very challenging one,” he added.
“Among of the highlights of the assembly was the most awaited “State of the Youth Address” (SOYA) of the UNYPAD National President Ustadz Rahib Kudto,” said Baisanie Macabuat, National Chair of the UNYPAD Women Affairs Committee.
Macabuat said that the main contents of the SOYA are the updates on the organization’s milestones based on its five major programs and services such as; Organizing, Capability Building, Research and Information, Campaign and Advocacy, and Disaster Action.
“Included in the report was the international exposures of the officers of the organization, which has been very instrumental in the development of the human resources of the UNYPAD, the accomplishment of Development Management Center of the UNYPAD that focused mainly on the development projects implemented in the conflict-affected areas here in Mindanao with support from various donor agencies such as the European Commission, Conciliation Resources (CR) United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, World Food Programme (WFB), Unicef, Save the Children, The Asia Foundation (TAF), Save the Children, CordAid, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), USAid, Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) with the assistance from the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA), among others,” she furthered.
Datuan Magon, Vice President for External Affairs, disclosed that President called on Bangsamoro Youth to continue in consolidating their rank and file, strengthen unity and solidarity, maximize potentials and prepare themselves for any situations because, sooner or later, they will be carrying social responsibilities.
“Our leaders are about to be done with their responsibility of delivering our struggle for freedom and right-to-self determination. Their struggle is not for themselves but for us (young generation) and for the generation to come, and the worst situation to come, Allah forbids, is when our turn comes we will fail to deliver and discharge our duties and responsibilities as we are not prepared enough, and that will be our leaders’ defeat,” said Magon quoting Kudto in his SOYA.
Magon said that Kudto called on young leaders not to give space to some bad elements that would try to attack the unity and firmness of the Bangsamoro to stand against the wrong-doers and oppressors.
“Let us also safeguard the gains of the peace process and never let the peace saboteurs sneak them before our eyes,” said Magon quoting President Kudto.
Visitors and guests were invited in the second day of the assembly. Among other visitors were the local government officials of Pikit municipality of the province of North Cotabato, the International Monitoring Team, ForumZFD, Non-Violent Peaceforce Philippines, Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion, and some officers of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Jun Mantawil, Secretariat Chair of the MILF peace panel in its negotiations with the government, was the key note speaker.
“We had a lot of sacrifices in the negotiations before we achieved this Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB),” said Mantawil.
“We hope everybody will support this as it is not for the MILF but it is for all…,” he added.
The Board member of 1st District of North Cotabato, Hon. Dulia Sultan said: “The 1,295 barangays of North Cotabato will support the CAB to finally address the long time sufferings of the Bangsamoro people.
“We have to grab this opportunities for our better future,” she said.
“If you want to support peace, just vote ‘yes’ this coming plebiscite and if you don’t , vote ‘no’ but go out of Mindanao, go to Visayas or Luzon,” Dulia stressed.
Dr Adam Zainudin, Vice President for Administration and Land Development of the Cotabato Foundation College for Science and Technology (CFCST) emphasized the need to equip the young people with knowledge and skills as preparation for facing the challenges of establishing and running the Bangsamoro government.
“In the would be Bangsamoro Government, Economic Development and Sustainability, Cultural Stability, Social Equity, Ecological Development, Technological Development, Political Support, and most importantly, the Satisfaction of our people both Muslims and Christians are very important,” he said.
“Your soldiers now are different from your Soldiers before. We are now your partners for total peace in Mindanao,” said 7th IB of Philippine Army representative Major Dimasalang Mamayog.
Dr Mohammad S. Yacob, Executive Director of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), gave input on the role of youth in the Nation Building. He said that the youth play a very important role in building a nation considering that they are the major segment of the society.
“Review of the Vision, Mission, Goals and Objectives, Programs and Services were among other agenda discussed in the plenary session,” Yusoph Lumambas, UNYPAD Secretary General, disclosed.
“It is a fact that the programs and services and that of the Vision, Mission, Goals and objectives of the organization were formulated before the signing of the CAB. That’s why we need to revisit them for us to see their relevance to the present situation considering that we are now facing the challenges of post-agreement scenario,” he added.
Rehana Ali, UNYPAD MSU Chairwoman, expressed her gratitude, in behalf of the Chapter, to UNYPAD leadership for making them part of the National Assembly.
“For us, it was not just an assembly but a training. Observing how leaders of the organization talk and act in the gathering is a big influence for us as leaders of tomorrow,” she said.
The participants of the assembly are the national officers of the organization and the delegates from National Capital Region, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Basilan, Zamboanga, Davao Region, Ranaw Region, Bukidnon, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, Sarangani General Santos City (SoCSarGen), and Cotabato City. Mindanao State University-Maguindanao and General Santos City, University of Southern Mindanao (USM)-Kabacan, and Cotabato City State Polytechnic College (CCSPC) were among other School-based Chapters of the organization participated in the assembly.