We envisioned CVE programs to foster a closer cooperation and exchange between us and actors in the fields of conflict management and prevention. COL FACUNDO PALAFOX IV, G7, PA provided us with his guidance, directives, and support in the conduct of our operations. We purposely engaged the youth sector as they are the most vulnerable to extremist narratives used by terrorists.
Youth Leadership Summits (YLS)
Youth leadership summits were conducted partnership with the Teach Peace Build Peace Movement (TPBPM) headed by Bai Rohanisa Sumndad-Usman, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) led by Secretary Jesus Dureza. Participants came from the different evacuation centers inhabited by the displaced residents of Marawi City. The participants attended lectures on topics such as: peace advocacy, conflict resolution, and the negative impact of the culture of violent extremism. They were taught how to encourage the youth and children to express themselves creatively through art and movement.
Lanao Del Norte Peace Covenant
JTF Marawi also took part in the Lanao del Norte government’s peace covenant amongst Muslims, Christians, various indigenous people’s (IP) tribes, religious groups, and other organizations. During this activity, we emphasized the need to preserve and protect the interests of the people, promote unity, and to foster the culture of peace as “One Human Family Under God.” The message of the covenant reminded everyone that terrorism has no place in the land of bounty and beauty, where people who serve as ambassadors of peace, are bound together in love and faith.
Tabak Educational Tour
One of the highlights of our CVE activities was the Tabak Educational Tour that we conducted for the children of Marawi City. A total of 70 participants ranging from ages 7-13 years old were selected from the different evacuation centers to take part in the tour. Our purpose was to provide participants from conflict-affected areas an educational experience, as well as inculcating in them the social and cultural values of peacebuilding, while creating an exposure to peaceful environments. The Tabak Educational Tour was done in two batches: the first from the 28th of August to the 1st of September 2017; and the second one, from the 26th to the 30th of September 2017. The idea for the educational tour was an offshoot of the advocacy of the G7 office of the 1ID who believed that formative minds developed best in peace-loving environments.
The itinerary for the tour included various museums and attractions in Metro Manila such as: the Philippine Army Museum, the National Museum, the Mind Musem, Kidzania Manila, and the Manila Ocean Park.
The highlight of the activity was the participant’s meeting with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in Malacañan Palace. The program was accomplished in partnership with Kilos Kabataan Livelihood Foundation headed by, Kristin Bangot and Dr. Naomi Lachica-Licuanan, president of the Rotary Club of Padre Burgos; the local governments of the ARMM, Lanao del Sur, and Marawi City; government partners such as: the PNP, PIA, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); and non-government organizations such as: the TPBPM; Mr. Manuel V Pangilinan of the following: Makati Medical Center Foundation, One Meralco Foundation, TV5 Tulong Kapatid Foundation, PLDT Smart Foundation, and North Luzon Expressway Corporation, and business establishments and private individuals: Max’s Restaurant, Mr Johnny Co, Francis Ki, Reina Tan, Sheeba Bautista, Soraya Reyes, Amado Go, Fidel S Tan, Anthony C Sua, Jeci ‘Bong’ Lapus, Henry C Yu, and Isabel and Isa Cojuango Suntay.
The Hijab Troopers were composed of 60 female PA soldiers and 40 female PNP personnel. They wore a hijab as part of their uniform, a form of respect for the culture of the IDPs of Marawi City. They bridged the cultural gap by conducting peacebuilding activities for the community and were warmly welcomed by the IDPs in the different evacuation centers.
Juan and Juana of the Army
To enhance the psychosocial activities involving children in the evacuation centers, JTG Tabang and CMO Regiment brought the Sergeant Juan and Sergeant Juana mascots to Marawi City. Costumed in battle dress attire, male and female cartoon-like characters softened the trauma of war on these innocent children. Children posed for pictures and played games with mascots Juan and Juana.
Because of the sudden terrorist attack, people fled their homes in haste. They arrived at the designated evacuation centers practically empty-handed. The assorted relief goods that we distributed to them became their primary source of clothing, food, and hygiene kits. A variety of canned goods, instant noodles, bottled water, rice, hygiene products, blankets, mats, towels, laminated sacks, and others, made up the care packages that were distributed. To provide the IDPs with a hot meal, JTG Tabang initiated a mobile kitchen dubbed as ‘Food for Peace’ which made the rounds of the evacuation centers. The LGU of Marawi City was instrumental in the realization of this initiative.
(This entry is part of Chapter 2: Marawi Crisis.)