About 40 PNP-SAF, students and advisers of the Student Action Force (SAF) from representative areas in Mindanao convened on January 31-February 1, 2020, dubbed as the SAF-Mindanao Assembly- one of the key pocket events of the OURmindaNOW Summit 2020 held in Cagayan de Oro City.
EAI-PH, through its Engaging University Influencers (EAI) is collaborating with the university – based SAF to drive sustainable and transformative change with the use of participatory media, technology and community outreach model. Through strengthening the capacities of the students, EAI envisions them to be active peace influencers.
This event gathered different university peace influencers for the promotion of sustainable peace and development while taking it into a whole-of-nation approach in reaching out to schools and communities.
Assembling the Student Action Force
The Student Action Force is an organization composed of student leaders organized by the 5th Special Action Battalion of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF). This organization helps foster youth participation in nation building through civic actions and engaging communities as well as fellow youth.
Among the universities and colleges in Mindanao that were represented include: Mindanao State University-Marawi City, Hinatuan Southern College, Western Mindanao State University-Malangas, Saint Joseph Institute of Technology-Butuan City, Mindanao State University-Sulu, Basilan State College and Northern Mindanao Colleges, Inc.- Cabadbaran City.
Several SAF assembly delegates are Tech Camp Alumni who have graduated from the SAF Up2Youth Tech Camp last June 2019. Since then, they were able to conduct re-echoing activities in their chapters and have been active in EAI’s continuing engagement.
SAF participants underwent a series of workshops on Organizational Development and Expansion, Leadership and How to be an Effective Peace Influencers. Some of the major outputs from the workshop are their peace campaign and SAF Chapter plans.
“Our second speaker’s (Wesley Winkler, Military Information Service Team) concept on leadership has caught my attention. He highlighted three essential things to consider being a good leader. First is taking responsibility, second is finding accountability and lastly, challenging yourself. He also stressed the impact of day to day influence, that if we can influence two persons a day, no doubt for us to have thousands of peace influencers in a year,” shared Joebert Decierto, SAF member from WMSU-Malangas
Creating the Coalition and Election of Officers
“The assembly was a great opportunity to unite the different chapters of SAF to promote unity and peace. More assembly, more peace”, Mr. Abdul Raffy Jafar, one of the SAF participants from Marawi City said.
With this continuing engagement and the goal to create a wider network, the assembly gathered more SAF students to be part of the bigger umbrella organization by uniting SAF organizations across Mindanao thereby creating a SAF Coalition.
“I am not just sitting mindless with any chance given; I push myself to share both sentiments and joys. The OURmindaNOW Summit is not just a platform. It actually filled me with so much positivity,” said Rennie Rose Daraug the elected convener from SAF -Basilan Chapter. She defined her OMN experience as priceless for she did not just gain new knowledge but she also gained a family.
Among those who were elected for the SAF -Mindanao Coalition are: Rennie Rose Daraug from Basilan Chapter as Convener, Joebert Desierto from Malangas Chapter as Vice Convener, Jessa Lozano from Butuan City Chapter as Secretary and Cyrel Castillo from Butuan City Chapter and Jaddid Datudacula as Information Officers.To move forward, a strategic plan for the coalition will be scheduled in partnership with the PNP-SAB, Military Information Service Team, universities and EAI-Philippines. /Maria Theresa Gamalo