Text and Photos by Jong Cadion, Mindanao Frontline
PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur (August 28, 2017) – Thirty-five (35) children from Marawi City will be taken on an educational tour by the Joint Task Force Marawi in Manila with a simple send off ceremony at the Lanao del Sur provincial Capitol 8am Monday (August 28), military official said.
Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) spokesperson Cpt. Jo-Ann D. Petinglay disclosed that the five-day tour from Aug 28 to Sep 1 dubbed as “Tabak Educational Tour: Peaceful Environment for Marawi Children,” the Manila tour is expected to provide the 35 participants, who live in conflict-affected areas, with educational experience, social and cultural values for peace-building, and exposure to peaceful environments. The participants, ranging from 7-13 years old, were identified as among those vulnerable and susceptible to violent extremism.
“This is one of the initiatives of the armed forces and to ensure that those children displaced by the crisis in Marawi City are given adequate support and psychosocial treatment by the government. It is imperative that at the initial stage, those deemed vulnerable are being guided and educated to know their roles in the mainstream society,” said Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, commander of the JTF Marawi and the 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division.
Cpt. Petinglay said that it may be recalled that the DAESH inspired terrorists who attacked Marawi recruited and use child warriors in the main battle area and and are still recruiting minors until now. The provincial government of Lanao del Sur, the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Desk, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Teach Peace Build Peace Movement, and the Kilos Kabataan Livelihood Foundation, Inc. were tapped by the JTF Marawi to make this endeavor possible.
The military also coordinated with concerned government agencies, offices, and partners in Manila, she added.
“Rather than hold guns and become combatants, we want these children to foster a sense of responsibility and, in the future, become leaders of a peaceful Marawi,” Brig. Gen. Bautista concluded.