From the Philippine News Agency (May 13): ARMM dev't key to fight vs terrorism, says military official
A ranking military official has recognized the important roles Muslim religious leaders play in preventing the spread of Islamic extremism and terrorism in Mindanao.
Western Mindanao Command chief, Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez, told Muslim clerics attending the "Ulama Summit Against Terrorism" that developing communities is one of the effective ways to contain extremism espoused by militants who use Islam as the basis for recruiting poor residents of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The three-day summit, which began Friday and will end Sunday, was organized by ARMM Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman and ARMM Darul Ifta (House of Opinions).
“We are together employing different approaches towards that goal and one of the solutions we also saw fit is the continuing implementation by the ARMM government of infrastructure projects in areas where there are fanatical extremist groups,” Galvez said.
He said socioeconomic developments, such as roads, seaports, and other facilities, improve poor communities and provide them sources of livelihood.
With improved communities, people will lose interest in extremism, he pointed out.
At the start of the summit, members of Muslim religious leaders and preachers expressed support for Malacañang's anti-terrorism drive.
Three major extremist groups are found in the ARMM's Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces. These are the Abu Sayyaf Group, Maute Terrorist Group, and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), all of whom have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Hataman said the summit seeks the support of Muslim preachers from ARMM provinces and other regions in Mindanao in preventing the entry of jihadists and extremists in their communities.
These extremists use Islam as a jumping board in recruiting young Moros to join them and promote violence, he said.
Hataman has repeatedly said that Islam means peace and it does not, and will not, promote violence against any human being.
Present during the opening program on Friday were some 300 Moro clerics, youth organizations, police and military officials, as well as provincial and regional elected officials.
Security was tight inside and outside the 10-hectare ARMM compound with six platoons of soldiers and a company of police securing the delegates.
A summit on terrorism held in Talayan town in Maguindanao last month, apparently angered the extremists, who allegedly set off a roadside bomb at the summit's venue a day after the gathering of Muslim clerics.
Security officials have assured the ongoing event would be safe.