|Young Mindanao Muslim Leaders Respond to Secretary Clinton|
MANILA—Among the groups of young Filipinos who attended the student forum with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the University of Santo Tomas recently were twenty-five Muslims from Mindanao, who are participating in the Congressional Internship Program for Young Muslim Leaders (CIPYML). This program is implemented through a partnership between the House of Representatives of the Philippines, Mindanao State University, and USAID’s Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program.
“I was struck by the level of concern for Mindanao and the Philippines by the U.S. government, as expressed by the Secretary,” said intern Jamairah Macabanding from Lanao del Norte, who was seated beside U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney during the forum.
Secretary Clinton said that the U.S. was happy to play a “facilitative and supporting role” in bringing about peace in the region, which in turn would lead to “a development strategy that will really reward the people of Mindanao with a better future that they can invest in.”
She also spoke of the need for dialogue and the peaceful and productive co-existence “so that there will be the opportunity to pursue one’s religious faith, but there will also be the equal opportunity to participate in one’s society.”
“If we can only bring about peace, given the region’s resources, Mindanao can be a real success, particularly on the economic [front],” said Ladjabassal.
The ninth cycle of CIPYML participants completing the program this November brings the number of promising young Mindanaoans who have completed the rigorous four-month internship to 193, which includes classes in democratic governance, followed by immersion in the process of policy formulation and legislation in Congress.
During their tenure in the House of Representatives, interns work with individual policy and legislative committees and with the staffs of individual Congressional representatives. This not only gives interns a broad understanding of national issues and the processes intrinsic to democratic institutions and governance, but also provides the Representatives and their staff with opportunities to interact with articulate representatives of Mindanao’s Muslim community.
Sec. Clinton’s call at the forum for poverty alleviation through education, and the need to uphold democratic institutions, had a particularly strong resonance among the interns.