Presidential peace adviser 'adopts' more than 500 kids of former rebels, terrorists
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Reconciliation and Unification 'adopted' more than 500 children to keep them away from violent extremism.
The STAR/Roel Pareño
Presidential peace adviser 'adopts' more than 500 kids of former rebels, terrorists
Roel Pareño ( - October 4, 2019 - 4:30pm

MOHAMMAD AJUL, Basilan, Philippines — Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. adopted Friday more than 547 children, many of them sons and daughters of Abu Sayyaf and Muslim separatist fighters, as part of the process of ending the cycle of violent extremism in the village where the Islamic State first established a caliphate in the Philippines.

The children—146 from the Abu Sayyaf surrenderees, 156 from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), 121 from Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and some orphans of ISIS-inspired fighters—are beneficiaries of the Save the Children of War Foundation and were presented to Galvez at Barangay Tuburan Proper during the Festival of Love and Peace program.

Ustadz Abbas Alam and Malaysian bomb expert Mohammad Najib, alias Anas, occupied Barangay Tuburan proper and declared it an ISIS caliphate on May 2015. The military retook the village and killed both terror leaders after two weeks of fighting.

“The joy and happiness displayed by this children now enjoying the sets of playground provided by a Manila-based hospital cannot be quantified by any monetary means. It is this very sign that these children grew up from the face of violence and from here we are stopping the cycle of violence,” Galvez said.

Galvez, who once headed the military brigade in Basilan, can testify that among the victims of the conflict were children who were left in the crossfire.

“The program might appear low but the impact is big because this will break the generational link of violence because those children of those who died from the conflict will be the one who will replace them if this will not be addressed properly,” Galvez said.

During the program, the Save the Children of War foundation, chaired by Dr. Arlene Jawad, also distributed dozens of bicycles donated by various government officials, including Basilan Gov. Jim Saliman-Hataman, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) interim parliament member Laisa Masuhod Alamia, and non-government organizations.

A helicopter from the 3rd Tactical Operation Wing also dropped candies and toys as it hovered over the children.

Bags filled with school supplies and toys were also distributed to children in exchange for their toy guns.

Jawad challenged Secretary Galvez, being a father of a solo daughter, to adopt the children.

“I have accepted the challenge that [the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Reconciliation and Unification] will adopt these children. A very bright idea at ending the cycle of violence because all good things start from the children like these young victims who suffered the trauma of violence," Galvez said.

Jawad observed that there have been many programs for Abu Sayyaf surrenderees and MILF and MNLF returnees, but none for the children, whom she described as very vulnerable to the violent extremism.

“If we will not help these children now, the cycle of violence will go on and on, there is no ending,” Jawad said.

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