Gov’t to protect Filipino youth regardless of ethnicity or religion

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. underscored the Duterte Administration’s commitment to uphold the rights and welfare of the nation’s youth regardless of their ethnicity or religion.

“The government shall protect the Filipino youth no matter what their ethnic background or religious affiliation is,” Galvez said during the hearing held yesterday by the Special Committee on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity of the House of the Representatives.

At the hearing, members of the Lower House were briefed on the memorandum issued by the Manila Police District (MPD) last January 31 entitled “Updated List of Muslim Students in High School, Colleges, and Universities in Metro Manila.”

In a position paper released by the MPD, its leadership explained that the memorandum’s issuance was part of the agency’s efforts to initiate programs for the youth as directed by the Salaam Police Unit of the Philippine National Police.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. (Photo courtesy of OPAPP)
Galvez further stressed the need to empower the youth on peacebuilding and reconciliation as part of their larger role in the society, which are reflected in the programs being implemented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Empowering the youth

Under its Social Healing and Peacebuilding (SHAPE) Program, OPAPP has for the past three years been carrying out initiatives to promote social healing and reconciliation among residents of Marawi, particularly among the city’s highly vulnerable sectors such as the youth.

In 2017, OPAPP set up its Youth Peace Table (YPT) which aimed to capacitate youth leaders to become agents of peace and development in their communities. To date, the YPT has engaged more than 100 youth leaders and established 76 youth networks across the country.

In 2018, 80 Bangsamoro youth were chosen to act as district, party and sectoral delegates in the Bangsamoro Parliament. As part of their immersion, the youth delegates crafted bills which were turned over to the then Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) government.

During the same year, the College Education Assistance Project (CEAP) was established which provided cash assistance and capacity-building training on conflict-sensitive and peace-promoting (CSPP) approaches to 1,181 college students in the ARMM.

In 2019, the YPT’s activities were consolidated into a larger peace movement with the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS) which highlighted the youth’s key role in peacebuilding.

OPAPP, through the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Youth Organization (MIPYO), has also helped capacitate IP youth representatives from across Mindanao to become responsible leaders in the community, and help the government put an end to the decades-long communist rebellion.

However, Galvez said that the nation should also institutionalize peace education to sustain the gains and principles of these programs.

Peace Education for the Youth

During his visit at the Mindanao State University in General Santos City and San Beda University in Manila, Galvez emphasized the need to integrate peace education in the school curriculum.

“But in order to make peace sustainable and enduring, peace education should be part of all academic discourse and humanities,” he said.

“It [peace education] should be comprehensive and multi-pronged. To do this, OPAPP is partnering with different universities so that peace education will be mainstreamed in academic institutions,” he added.

Document on Human Fraternity

To complement all these initiatives, Galvez said, OPAPP adheres to the principles of the ‘Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together’ document issued by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb.

“This document emphasizes the values of peace, mutual understanding, human fraternity, harmonious co-existence, justice (based on mercy), and love,” he explained to legislators during the committee hearing.

Signed on February 4, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, the Document on Human Fraternity emphasizes the need for nations across the globe to collectively address the growing threat of terrorism, which is not based on religion, but on inaccurate interpretations of religious texts and policies.

“The Human Fraternity document should be used as a reference of all organizations in crafting their programs and policies. Doing so will allow them to prevent situations of conflict brought about by cultural and religious differences,” Galvez pointed out

“We must always remember that the Duterte Administration’s Peace and Development is anchored on the principles of equality, justice and respect. The government will never implement anything that would go against these principles,” Galvez said.

“I would therefore like to call upon the Filipino youth – Muslims, Christians and Lumads – to help the government in tearing down the walls of fear, hatred and mistrust, and building bridges of peace, understanding and unity among our people,” he said.

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