Young people are deeply implicated in the Marawi siege. Many commentaries and studies view them in either of two ways. On the one hand, they are the sector characterized as most vulnerable to radicalization. Researchers focus on the factors that lead them to violent extremism (Casey and Pottebaum 2018). But on the other hand, they are also characterized as passive victims needing relief and protection (Haynes and Tanner 2015). While these depictions may be legitimate in their own ways, they contradict each other. They are either perpetrators of violence or its victims. But they also share important similarities. These depictions derive from deep concerns about the wellbeing of young people in conflict situations. This sentiment is valid because they ought to be enjoying their youth and discovering their talents and abilities at school. And yet both depictions also share a problematic assumption. That they are either prone to violence or victims of conflict frames young people as a social problem at the same time, taking them as a social problem evidently carries a moral undertone: While some may be driven by a sense of righteous indignation, some others may be carried away by their ignorance (Hughes 2016). These frames, taken together, are blind to the youths’ potential contributions as effective agents of change, especially in post-conflict reconstruction. Research shows that although it may force young people to take on adult roles for which they are unprepared, conflict does not necessarily cripple their abilities to see into the future (Schwartz 2010). They do have stories and aspirations to share, some of which remain rooted in idealism and hope that tomorrow will be better. This is the basis of our ongoing study that documents the narratives of young people before, during, and after the Marawi siege. Our project, funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), involves interviewing Muslim, Christian, and Lumad youths. We are also working with Reemar Alonsagay, a recent graduate of MSU – Marawi. We wish to spell out the importance of our research and some of our findings in this Perspectives piece.
Cornelio, J., & Calamba, S. (2018). The Future Can Be Better: Young People And The Marawi Siege. CMU Journal of Science, 22(1).