THE University of the Southeastern Philippines (Usep) officially launched its Malabog Extension Campus (MEC) on Wednesday, June 23.

The event was officially launched at the Paquibato National High School and was attended by incumbent Davao City Vice Mayor and Mayor-elect Sebastian Duterte.

In a press statement, Duterte said in his speech that the opening of Usep-MEC is a significant development in the City’s Education Sector. He underscored the opportunities that Usep-MEC will provide to Dabawenyos in Paquibato District and its contribution to the growth of its communities.

The incoming mayor also vowed to continue pushing for Peacebuilding Initiatives and Development Programs to sustain the growth of Paquibato and the entire Davao City.

Barangay Malabog Captain Jessielito Areja, in his speech, thanked the city government for opening an extension school in their areas as this would provide educational opportunities for his constituents.

The official also cited the importance of education in ending poverty and insurgency of communist groups, which they were affected in the past.

"Mao ni nalipay mi na naabre na ni kay kahibalo mi nga gamay na lang ila ma-recruit kay maka-eskwela na ang mga bata (We are happy that the school is open because we know that the communist group will only be able to recruit a few children since they will have an opportunity to study)," he said, who was emotional in delivering his speech.

Usep-MEC will initially offer two undergraduate courses – Bachelor of Science (BS) in Agribusiness and BS Entrepreneurship.

Outgoing Davao City Mayor and incoming Vice President Sara Duterte said the Usep’s expansion is one of the results of the city's efforts through Peace 911, a comprehensive peace-building program of the Davao City Government for conflict-affected areas of the city.

Paquibato District, one of the areas covered in the peace program, is among the areas in the city identified as stronghold of the rebel group New People’s Army (NPA).

She added students, once the college school will operate, will no longer have to go to the downtown area or the Poblacion District to finish their studies, especially those who are financially incapable.

The Philippine Army's 10th Infantry "Agila" Division (10ID), in May this year, declared the city “insurgency-free” after dismantling the presence of NPA in the city’s farflung areas. RGL