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Philippine Army, INYDO conduct youth summit to address extremist infiltration

SAN NICOLAS, Ilocos Sur – The Ilocos Norte Youth Development Office (INYDO) in partnership with the Philippine Army (PA) conducted on September 29 to October 1 a youth leadership summit at the Takuat Training Center, San Nicolas to enhance the ability of the youth sector to become catalysts of peace and development.

In her message, Second Lt. Rey Gaezzel Anfone, civil military operations officer of the PA 81st Infantry (Spartan) Battalion of the 7th Infantry (Kaugnay) Division, shared that leadership summits such as the First Provincial Youth Leadership Summit have been conducted in the provincial and national levels in the past 10 years as the youth engagement effort against leftist insurgencies.

Anfone pointed out that although insurgency threat in Ilocos Norte, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front coalition (CPP-NPA-NDF) is still alive in surrounding areas.

“We cannot discount the fact na kung hindi pa rin matatapos (talaga) yung armed struggle nila, maaapektuhan ang Ilocos Norte,” she said.

“Makitkitada a ti Ilocos Norte ket napalawlawan iti banbantay. Mabalintayo a ma-target kadagitoy nga extremist, nangruna dagiti agtutubo,” INYDO Executive Director Weenter Ventura added.

Alfone affirmed this, saying, “ang trend ngayon, yung mga sumasali sa NPA are the youth… kasi nasa kanila yung mga kailangan nila na maging miyembro ng samahan nila.”

Envisioning the youth as peace builders, the summit is aimed to train the youth sector to develop a stronger sense of discipline and responsibility and instill in them awareness of their integral role in nation-building.

Over the course of three days, the participants tackled topics ranging from personal development to human rights and patriotism, including interpersonal communication, the use of media for self-expression, anger management, forms of abuse and the restoration process, cultural sensitivity towards indigenous people, environmental consciousness, the criminal justice system, and problems of insurgency.

Alfone said the training will transition from personal development to social responsibility, specifically: leadership and personal empowerment module, values formation module, then social responsibility module.

“Maiiwan natin yung mga bata na may magagamit sila sa society, equipped with the knowledge na hindi sila ma-i-infiltrate ng mga kaliwa,” Alfone said, even as she added that “this is also one of our ways of bringing the army closer to the people.”

Ventura also hopes that the summit would help address the most pressing problems of the youth: teenage pregnancy and delinquency or crime involvement, as identified in the Philippine Youth Development Plan (PYDP).

He added that tomorrow’s leadership summit is also in partnership with the NYC and is thus in line with the objectives of the NYC-prescribed PYDP.

Meanwhile, the PA General Headquarters will conduct next month the yearly national counterpart of the provincial leadership summit where selected graduates in the provincial-level training will join other delegates-participants from all over the country. (Mizpah Grace G. Castro, PGIN-CMO)