New ARMM peace and security contingencies to take off in 2018

Peace and Order • Mon Dec 11, 2017 01:04 PM  •  138   0
By John Unson
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ARMM executive building in Cotabato City
ARMM executive building in Cotabato City
COTABATO CITY --- Officials will start 2018 by generating fiscal support for Madaris schools helping address religious extremism and drug abuse in far-flung areas.

Kirby Abdullah, local government secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Monday the executive department of ARMM will also focus in setting up an anti-terrorism task force and a regional anti-drug abuse council in support of Malacañang’s peace initiatives in southern provinces.

The creation of the two inter-agency bodies was agreed by members of the regional peace and order council (RPOC) during a meeting in Cotabato City last December 4.

In a resolution, the RPOC enjoined local government units in the autonomous region to help bankroll the peace education thrusts of Madaris schools propagating Islamic values on religious solidarity through interfaith dialogues.

There are private Madaris schools in ARMM employing moderate Islamic theologians teaching peace education on voluntary basis.

The autonomous region covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, the scattered island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.

The ARMM’s education department also has a Madaris Education Bureau employing moderate clerics handling religious subjects focused on Islamic humanitarian principles.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said local officials can copy the examples of the city government of Lamitan, the capital of Basilan, in providing regular stipends to constituent clerics helping prevent the spread of violent religious extremists in their respective communities.

Hataman is the presiding chairman of the inter-agency RPOC, whose members include representatives from the Western Mindanao Command, the Police Regional Office-ARMM and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The Lamitan LGU also has a continuing fellowship program fostering camaraderie among Muslim preachers in its 45 component-barangays, the police, the military and members of the city peace and order council.

“That is a good example of cooperation against terrorists and violent religious extremists that other LGUs can take cue from,” Hataman said.

Hataman said the local communities should not discriminate clerics who are not fomenting hatred to non-Muslims by lumping them together with misguided Islamic militants.

“They are our allies. There are many areas that misguided militants cannot infiltrate due to the presence there of influential moderate and neutral Imams and preachers,” Hataman said.

He said the DILG-ARMM will formulate plans on how the agency, the regional education department, the LGUs in the autonomous region and private Islamic schools and community-based clerics can cooperate in addressing head-on the spread of extremists in far-flung areas.

Clerics in the ranks of local Islamic State-inspired blocs are eloquent in enticing potential recruits to join their fold using issues like discrimination, government neglect, poverty and underdevelopment as talking points.

Abdullah said they will see to it that the new peace and security programs of RPOC will take off in January 2018.
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