In line with the country’s celebration of September as the month of National Peace Consciousness, the National Service Training Program – Civic WelfareTraining Service (NSTP-CWTS), through the Arrupe Office of Social Formation (AOSF), held a symposium on the peace process in Mindanao among NSTP-CWTS classes at the Finster Auditorium yesterday afternoon.
The said event is a part of rotational sessions for NSTP-CWTS students. Lately, Lilibeth Leh-Arcena, the current AOSF director, have introduced this activity, along with disaster risk reduction management, emergency response and first-aid training, to “prepare” and “equip” students as part of their individual and social formation.
“This symposium is part of the requirements of NSTP-CTWS program. Since we cannot accommodate all NSTP students to gather in this activity simultaneously, we have made it as rotational sessions with the other three major courses,” Arcena explained.
With their rationale “National Security and the Culture of Peace,” Melinda Prieto, a peace advocate from the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), talked in the symposium about the peace process in Mindanao.
“Youth like you should take a stand as peace-builders. Taking actions in country’s peace process requires youth’s participation—your participation. The youth, especially kayo na andito ngayon, should start to take a stand especially here in Mindanao. ‘Di natin alam na someday magiging leaders or peace advocates kayo. ‘Yung mga nanggaling pa from Bangsamoro regions can become parliamentary leaders of the future, as well as to Christian and Lumad settlers in their respective institutions,” Prieto said.
Just as the Philippine Congress vows the passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before it adjourns on October 10, Prieto highlighted BBL to the students about its possible help on sustaining peace and order in the country.
Also, Prieto presented the history and current status of the said law without separating the fact that conflicts may also arise when nation tries to move along the path leading towards peace.
“Path leading to peace is not possible without political process. Bangsamoro Basic Law can be one of the ways that will lead us to that path. However, nagiging controversial siya to some people kung kaya’t natatagalan talaga ang ‘decades old’ na peace agreement na ma-ipasa ng congress. But this is part of the process. Conflicts may always be there along the path leading towards peace,” Prieto acknowledged.
For her, these conflicts could be anything: individual, political, social, intra- and international issues. After all, she still encouraged everyone to support this “tool in peace-building” for it may lead the country towards the development of national peace.
Meanwhile, after the one-hour BBL discussion, however, a student from political science department raised a question asking Prieto about her thoughts regarding the current situations of displaced Lumads who are now residing for months at the evacuation center in UCCP Haran, Davao City.
The said student presented the celebration of the annual festival of Davao, the Kadayawan, which is mainly dedicated to the tri-people of Davao City, as ironic, considering that some Lumads are still facing social and political distress on their present situations.
Nevertheless, Prieto still gave her insights about the queries, and she even related it to the Lumads living in the Bangsamoro regions, which further debates with the possible problems minorities may encounter whenever Bangsamoro will introduce autonomy government.
On the other hand, Cristine Evangelio, NSTP formator of Architecture 2-A Class, shared her thoughts about the symposium and the peace concerning Mindanao.
“I am grateful that this national security, specifically the Bangsamoro Basic Law, has been discussed here in the NSTP formation. I hope that every one of us is open, so that we can have peace at last. [Let’s] build it so that we can attain and sustain peace. The youth has the power to do it,” Cristine Evangelio stressed.
The symposium lasted for two hours and concluded with a short reflection as post-discussion activity.
It will continue every week until all classes undergone through this course as well as those three other areas of concern in the program.