ILIGAN CITY— National Youth Commission (NYC) Undersecretary Aiza Seguerra on Wednesday visited evacuation centers in Barangay Buruun and Barangay Tibanga here to entertain hundreds displaced from Marawi City due to long-drawn firefights between state forces and terrorists.
The official, a singer and former child star, received a warm welcome from the evacuees.
“Masaya, masaya dahil pumunta siya dito,” said Jeremy Abual, among youth evacuees who watched Seguerra's performance.
Seguerra rendered some of her songs, even inviting evacuees to sing with her.
One evacuee ended the performance tearfully.
“Kahit papaano napawi ang kalungkutan ko,” she said as Seguerra consoled her.
On a mission to give long-term support to those affected by the conflict, Seguerra said the youth commission is keen on training health workers and volunteers on psycho-social interventions for the internally displaced.
Once the siege ends, the agency may have to shift focus to countering radicalism, Seguerra said. This amid reports that Islamic State-linked extremist groups were recruiting child soldiers.
”There are multiple reasons why the youth decided to fight against the government, fight with ISIS, because of so many reasons. Andiyan 'yung poverty, and I think isa sa pinaka-kailangan i-address talaga ay ang issue ng wala tayong counter-narrative," she said.
"Hindi ba 'pag pumunta ka sa malayong lugar, napaka konti na lang ng eskuwelahan and walang counter-narrative, so kung ano ang ibigay sa kanila na paniniwala, ito lang 'yun,” she added.
Seguerra said she would return in September with artists Frenchie Dy and Sitti for another round of mini-concerts at evacuation centers.
The conflict in Marawi City has entered its fourth month, with fighting now limited within a 500-sqm area in the battle zone. It has left at least 792 dead, most of them terrorists, and has driven out more than 200,000 residents from the city and thousands more from nearby areas.