Photo by Gandhi Kinjiyo

‘Together, let us build a stronger nation’: Pres Duterte tells Muslim youth

“Together, let us build a stronger nation that we can leave behind for the benefit of future generations,” President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said in his written message for the participants of 2nd Muslim Youth Leaders Congress (MYLC) and recipients of 14th Sultan Kudarat Awards, an event held in General Santos City from January 20-23, 2018 that gathered around 117 select young Moro leaders from across the country.

The undertaking is part of the Bangsamoro Youth Initiatives for Development (BYID) Project, a venture being implemented by a Moro organization, Katiyakap, Inc with the support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Katiyakap is a group of peace advocates from Southern Mindanao whose thrusts includes supporting the Bangsamoro peace processes and promoting Islamic financing for the economic empowerment of the Bangsamoro people. 

Commending the organizers of the youth congress, President Duterte said they welcome the efforts that “provide platforms for young people to hone their leadership skills at an early age.”

“I laud BYID for empowering the Bangsamoro youth through social development initiatives that intend to address the challenges we are currently facing, especially in some parts of Mindanao,” the head of the country said.

He further said, “It pleases me that the 2nd Muslim Youth Leaders Congress will focus on timely topics such as the rise of violent extremism and the opportunities presented by the East ASEAN Growth Area and the larger ASEAN Economic Community.”

MYLC concluded the regional Moro youth consultations conducted from November to December last year in the cities General Santos, Davao, Cotabato, Iligan and Zamboanga aimed to gather data on the issues and concerns affecting the young Muslims. 

The consultation respondents, Muslim youth leaders, also mapped individuals and organizations that are supportive as well as those not helpful for the development of the Bangsamoro youth,” he said.

The discussions in the consultation were focused in the areas of education, peace-building, socio-economic, governance, and environment.

The results of the regional consultations were presented during the youth congress. Violent extremism, discrimination, historical injustice, poverty, corruption, declining number of enrollees in Madrasah, destructions brought by armed conflict, and teenage pregnancy were the issues confronting the Moro youth identified in the consultations.

As a response, the MYLC delegates crafted an action plan and policy advocacies that would help address the issues and concerns affecting the Muslim youth of the country.

Outstanding Moro youth, individuals and organizations who had made remarkable contributions to the Bangsamoro communities were recognized in the 14th Sultan Kudarat Awards which highlighted the third day of the congress.

Sultan sa Talik Datu Nasser Pendatun, Sultan sa Biwang Datu Salman Sapal, Sultan Dikaya Datu Tungko Saikol of Kabuntalan and Rajah Muda sa Sugoda Buayan Datu Abdulhamid Ingkong witnessed the awarding rites.  

President Duterte was invited at the MYLC, but due to hectic schedule, he was not able to attend.