Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija – The Army’s 24th Infantry “Wildcat” Battalion conducted the 1st Abra Indigenous People’s Youth Leadership Summit (IP YLS) 2019 at Brgy Tagodtod, Lagangilang, Abra from November 29 to December 1, 2019.
The 24IB, led by Lieutenant Colonel Jearie Boy P. Faminial, the Commanding Officer, facilitated the three-day IP YLS 2019 with a theme “Strengthening the IP Youth for a Better Future”.
The Summit aims to strengthen cooperation and promote solidarity among the Youth Leaders of the IP community in Abra as peace builders and catalysts for development.
Meanwhile, the Summit was a result of the collaborative efforts of the Provincial Government of Abra, under the leadership Governor Maria Jocelyn Valera-Bernos; the Tactical Operations Group 1 of the Philippine Air Force; the Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB) 15 of the Philippine National Police; and, the 2nd Civil Military Operation (CMO) Company, 7th CMO Battalion of 7th Infantry (Kaugnay) Division.
Apart from the collaboration of the mentioned agencies/units, the Summit was a success due also to the active participation and support of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace, Reconciliation & Unity (OPAPRU).
With series of lectures citing CPP-NPA-NDF’s deception, the participants came to understand that as an empowered youth, they need to take a stand. Hence, they wrote open letters addressed to members of NPA in Abra.
In one letter, the participant wrote, “Kahit pinatay nyo po ang papa ko at masakit sa akin na mawalan ng ama, umaasa pa rin ako na kayo ay magbalik loob sa gobyerno dahil hindi pa huli ang lahat, tama na po ang pagkitil ng maraming buhay at walang patutunguhang labanan. Pwede po bang makiisa na kayo sa gobyerno nang sa ganun matapos na ang problema ng ating bansa tungkol sa usaping kapayapaan at terorismo.”
Colonel Audrey L. Pasia, Commander of the 702nd Infantry (Defender) Brigade, emphasized the importance of the youth when he said, “The youth serve an integral part in nation building for they are the future leaders of our next generation and we must protect them from CTG's exploitation and deception for them to have a better future. With these letters, we are hoping that the members of CTGs will be encouraged to surrender to the government and choose a new life that is free of violence.”
Supporting the statement of the Brigade Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Faminial has this to say, “It is very delightful that the Youth Leaders of Abra are taking a step in encouraging the members of the NPA to surrender. The Army will continue to inform and educate our youth here in Abra about the dirty works of the CTGs in recruiting the youth. I hope that our youth will continue to develop to attain their goals in life.”