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PIA Press Release

Moro youth calls for decentralized governance; stronger youth involvement

Davao City (10 September) -- A young Moro spokesperson has called for more decentralized governance that would empower Mindanao and its youth.

Speaking during the Senate public hearing of the Mindanao Economic Development Authority (MEDA) Bill held in Manila last month, Samira Gutoc, co-convenor of the Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN) said that "Mindanao's business is everyone's business".

"We must help the island harness itself. And this is through entities decentralized that tap into creative youth energy," she said.

"What happens if you ignore strengthening entities that can possibly address Mindanao economy and peace especially in conflict areas?"

She added that economic paradigms should mobilize entrepreneurship, local product development and regional networking.

Gutoc, who is also the director of the Al Amanah Islamic Bank of the Philippines (AAIBP), joined other key Mindanao leaders in the private sector, academe, religious and government during the MEDA Bill hearing led by Senator Edgardo Angara, under the sub-committee on Economic Affairs. Senator Richard Gordon also attended the hearing.

The Senate version of the bill consolidates the ten bills filed by Senators Angara, Gordon, Loren Legarda, Mar Roxas, Ramon Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Manuel Lapid, Manny Villar, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Just recently, the Senate version of the bill has been finalized and is set for second hearing.

Mindanao leaders have urged for a permanent body that will integrate peace and development efforts in Mindanao and ensure its continuity and consistency with Mindanao's unique landscape.

Gutoc added that while headlines of politics and crime persist in Manila, there is a vibrancy in Mindanao shown by its industries and peoples despite inequities in education and employment.

"The sense of an island community is stronger than ever," she said.

She said that youth participation has increased as shown by their rising social awareness. "Thousands are now involved in voters' vigilance campaigns, which dispute a McCaan Erickson study that Mindanao's youth have little interest in social affairs," she said.

However, she said that more opportunities must be given to Mindanao youth to address issues on human resource and youth insurgency.

"I am privileged to have studied, but even I, found it hard to get a job in the competitive Manila workplace. That is why half a million of my tribal kababayan are in the Middle East and in every nook of our country selling DVDs," Gutoc, who is a UP graduate, said.

She also said that adolescents who submit themselves to warfare have exposed themselves to the danger of being injured and killed. "They have given up being a child, and give up education," she said. (MEDCo) [top]

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