Vulnerable sectors of Butuan empowered to become advocates of peace and development

November 11, 2020

Vulnerable sectors of Butuan City are empowered to become advocates of peace and development through Capacitating Urban Communities for Peace and Development (CUCPD) organized by the DILG Caraga Regional Office and DILG Butuan in VCDU Prince Hotel and Grand Convention Center, Butuan City on October 26-30, 2020.

“We are grateful for the ardent support of the Local Government of Butuan City and the members of the RTF-ELCAC (Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) for helping us in the conduct of CUCPD. Having empowered the vulnerable sectors of the lone Highly Urbanized City of our region, we are confident that we will be able to achieve the long-sought peace and development in Caraga in no time,” DILG CARAGA Regional Director Lilibeth Famacion said.

The activity centered on educating the youth and students, labor, transport, women, and urban poor sectors identified as the most susceptible to local armed conflict manipulations and recruitment, on the tactics and strategies employed by Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) to deceive citizens to favor and join their violent cause.

Participants were given an overview of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 or Republic Act (RA) No. 11479 and Anti-Violent Extremism during the first day. Likewise, they were apprised of the corresponding government programs that would help them overcome the pressing issues and concerns that affect their sector.

During the first four days of the CUCPD, presentations on RA 11479 by Hanna Duero of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA); methodological infiltration steps that CTGs implement to take over a specific area by Captain Charles Doroin of the 402nd Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); and concepts of Violent Extremism Florian Bayawa of the DILG were discussed.

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) led by Dr. Victor Emmanuel Ozarraga of Gawad Kalinga and Jaime Makinano of the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resource in Rural Areas discussed resiliency amid the pandemic. Representatives from national government agencies also presented the available forms of assistance that their respective offices offer to those whose livelihoods have been impacted by the pandemic.

Youth and students were also educated on the threats of the online world by PCMS Raul Salubre and PSSG Razzel Labarate of the Cybercrime Unit of the Philippine National Police where they were warned of the various forms of crime that loom around the internet, especially in social media applications, and how they can avoid falling prey to such illegal acts. They are also taught strategies on how they can make their social media accounts more secure.

Lastly, Pedro Tecson of the Department of Education (DepEd) and Glynmer Jamito of CSO Propelling Our Inherited Nation Through Our Youth (POINTY) imparted to the participants the values on how to become responsible social media users and how to become peacemakers in the digital era and the new normal.

Meanwhile, members of the business sector were specially invited to have a dialogue with the DILG, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on the threats and challenges that entrepreneurs have struggled with and how the government can be of further assistance where the participants shared about the losses of the business sector due to the pandemic and also shared that amid the health crisis, entrepreneurs continue to receive calls from CTGs extorting them of money.

Famacion, together with Major Mark Lagud of the 4th Infantry Division of the AFP and NEDA Regional Director Priscilla Sonido, also committed to continually assist local entrepreneurs through the RTF-ELCAC to ensure that they can recover from their losses and that the extortions from CTGs will stop.

Expo for Peace

As a culmination of the week-long activity, a Peace and Development Expo was held to give a platform to the sectors to voice out their responses to the activities conducted through the CUCPD which will help the RTF-ELCAC assess the effectiveness of its efforts and in identifying future interventions for the urban communities.

Frontline service delivery agencies Department of Health, Department of Transportation-Land Transportation Office, Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Commission on Higher Education, National Housing Authority, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority set up a one-stop-shop during the activity to provide immediate assistance and information about their pertinent programs to the participants.

During the Expo, educational gadgets were also turned over by Famacion to the DepEd Caraga for the newly established Schools of Living Traditions in Sitio Simowao, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga and Sitio Lucnodon, Brgy. Mahaba, Marihatag in the Province of Surigao del Sur. The makeshift schools were established to house the displaced students of the closed illegal and antigovernment educational institutions in the area.

Adhering to health protocols, only half of the capacity of the venue was occupied throughout the week-long activities. However, to ensure that the discussions will still reach the general public, staff from the Butuan City Public Information Office were present to document the activities. The recordings will be uploaded to the official DILG Caraga Facebook page and YouTube account.