58IB and LGU Holds 3-day Leadership Summit for Balingoan Youth

CLAVERIA, Misamis Oriental – The Army’s 58th Infantry Dimalulupig Battalion, in partnership with the Balingoan Local Government Unit, held its 1st Municipal Youth Leadership Summit 2021 (YLS) from May 17 to 19, 2021 at Villa Felomina, Barangay Silad, Sugbongcogon, Misamis Oriental.

Balingoan and Misamis Oriental Chapter of Propelling Our Inherited Nation Through Our Youth (POINTY), in collaboration with the 58IB, organized the three-day Municipal Youth Leadership Summit 2021 with the theme “Kabatan-onan: Paglaom ug Pangandoy para sa Malinawong Munisipyo ug Komunidad.”

A total of 50 young people from various barangays in Balingoan, Misamis Oriental, participated in the YLS, which aims to build youth leaders and inspire them to become responsible citizens and catalysts for peace and growth in their communities. Despite the pandemic threat that is currently being faced by the country, risks must be taken to continue its development, especially for the next generation, thus the realization of the said summit. Safety protocols were strictly imposed during the event to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Aside from the discussion of youth in peacebuilding, the participants were also given a series of lectures on COVID-19 related health protocols, disaster risk reduction management, and basic life support and first aid, IPRA Law’s 4 Bundles of Rights, 6 Programs for Indigenous People under EO No. 70, Anti-criminal Act, and Livelihood Opportunities for Indigenous People, and CPP-Youth NPA’s Exploitation.

Team building activities, healthy competitions, small group discussions, community development programs, and socio-cultural activities were also supplemented to complete the package that has prepared the participants on becoming an equipped peace advocate.

During the opening ceremony, Lt. Col. Ricky L Canatoy, Commanding Officer of 58IB, delivered a message emphasizing the summit’s main objectives. “This YLS is intended not only to inform and educate you about the true intentions of the CPP-NPA-NDF, but also to help you build and develop your character. We hope that by giving you lectures on drug awareness, business opportunities, and leadership seminars and events, you can become a better and more responsible citizen in your municipality. Our approach in engaging the youth at this summit is multi-faceted.”

Col Cerilo C Balaoro Jr, Deputy Brigade Commander of 402nd Brigade, also sent a powerful message to the attendees. “YLS is a collaboration. This has been going on for a long time, and it is always a collaborative effort between the military and other stakeholders, especially the local government. And I’m grateful that Balingoan is a very supportive LGU when it comes to youth-oriented activities and programs. Over the course of this three-day summit, you will gain a deeper understanding of one of our country’s most pressing problems, insurgency, which we in the security sector have been and continue to resolve. Under the Executive Order No. 70, we all have been mandated to end local communist armed conflict through the Whole of Nation Approach. And by the word ‘whole,’ I mean that you, as youth and future leaders of our country, have also a significant role to play.”

“The CTGs have been recruiting and deceiving young minds because they believe that youth are perfect for recruitment because they are idealistic, curious, seeking adventures, and innocent. Innocent in the sense that you do not really know both sides of a story when a social problem occurs, and because of your youth, you are easily swayed and influenced. The bottom line is that they want you to take up arms and fight the government on your dime. Our democracy isn’t perfect; it has and will continue to have flaws. But, please, don’t be naive and picky. Try to see that the government is really committed to resolving the problem. My advice to you is to continue to be open and curious while being cautious. Be discerning. Be advocates of peace. Let us work together to insulate recruitment in the youth sector. This is the time to hone your leadership skills so that a portion of you can become a better citizen and learn how to contribute to the society while avoiding any anti-government activities. We expect a lot from you because ang Kabataan ang Pag Asa ng Bayan. “I hope you can make a difference in ending the country’s local communist armed conflict,” Col Balaoro added.

Meanwhile, the Municipal Mayor of Balingoan, Hon. Aaron Paul Unabia, urged the youth to be peacemakers. “I sincerely hope you will not take this lightly. I hope that whatever you learn this morning and, in the days, ahead, you will take what you have learned back to your respective barangays and use it to raise awareness. Always keep in mind that you have a significant role to play in the growth of our province, municipality, and barangays. We all want the same thing: for the uprising to come to an end. However, the government cannot do this on its own. As the primary stakeholders in this country, we need your help. Between the LGU and its constituents, there is a two-way partnership. And, as a youth, I hope you can serve as the LGU’s bridge to these people who feel neglected by the government. I hope that as members of your barangays, you will do your part in disseminating the important knowledge that you will gain, because we need your assistance and cooperation. Because without your cooperation, the developments in our area will be difficult to accomplish. So let us all work together to make our municipality a better place.”

One participant, on the other hand, shared her experience and reflections from the YLS during the summit’s final day. “I’ve attended several leadership trainings in the past, pero kani nga training na amaze ko kay dili ing ani ka-chada. Wa ko nagdahum na ing ani diay ang YLS. Day 1 pa lang kaulion na jud ko honestly, nabag-uhan ko sa lectures. New information gyud sya tanan pero dako kaayo ang akong pasalamat sa mga speakers. Despite sa ilang busy schedule, gipakita nila ang ilang effort ug gisharae ang ilang knowledge. Worth it kaayo. Isa ra gyud ang akong maingon diri sa leadership summit. YLS is worth the time and effort. Dili masayang ang atong pag adto diri. Nag-enjoy ta and most especially, nakatuon. Para sa mga kabatan-onan, unta ang atong natun-an kay atong madala dala hangtod pa sa next generation. And para ma-achieve na gyud ang lasting peace and better place para sa atoa.”

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