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Learn to be better: Lorenzana stresses education key to rebuilding Marawi

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COTABATO CITY–Education remains the best tool in the government’s fight against violent extremism, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana said here Thurday, even as he called for greater collaboration between the government and the academe to prevent the radicalization of the youth.

Lorenzana represented President Duterte during the Mindanao Peace and Security Summit 2018 organized by the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College (CCSPC), in coordination with the civil-military operations unit of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID).

“In conflict situations such as we have here in Mindanao, education is especially important as it provides protection and stability, essential knowledge and life skills,” Lorenzana told thousands of summit participants, which included students, school executives, peace advocates, local officials and military and police officers.

“It is also a key to building for common values for displaced children and youth,” Lorenza added.

The Defense official said the government’s partnership with CCSPC should be replicated in other areas in Mindanao, acknowledging the academe’s vital role in assisting the the government against the proliferation of illegal drugs and in countering violent extremism.

CCSPC president Dr. Dammang Bantala, said the initiative recognizes the need to focus on the youth sector being the most prone and vulnerable to radicalization.

“Today, the role of the academe is not only limited to giving of diplomas but to have a connection with all the stakeholders. We have to work together in order to attain peace and development in the region if not the whole country,” Bantala said.

For her part, Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi lauded the CCSPC’s partnership with the government, saying it “demonstrates the eagerness of the academe to perform their role.”

“We need to work with you and help each other especially the youth. The aim of this Mindanao Summit is to educate the youth,” Guiani-Sayadi said in her welcome remarks.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, the newly-installed Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) commander, noted that the role of education in preventing and countering violent extremism has gained prominence among policymakers and practitioners.

“There is really a need to institutionalize the program in countering violent extremism, combating illegal drugs and corruption in all institutions not only in central Mindanao but the entire country,” Dela Vega, former 6th Infantry Division (6ID) commander whose jurisdiction includes Cotabato City.

“The academe is one important aspect in this endeavor; this is why your Armed Forces will always be on call for whatever engagements and interaction the community may need,” Dela Vega told the peace stakeholders.

He added; “We encourage our stakeholders for your active participation, as these are all challenges for us to ensure that we will be looking forward to a more sustainable peace and development in this part of the country.” (Edwin Fernandez/PNA)