COTABATO CITY – Some 300 ulama from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and other parts of the Philippines are expected to attend an anti-terrorism summit here from May 12 to 14.
Dubbed ‘ARMM Ulama Summit Against Terrorism’, the event is initiated by the regional government in cooperation with the region’s ulama and in line with the Duterte administration’s statement that terrorism is an urgent and critical national security threat.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, as well as religious leaders, said the threat of violence and terrorism could further hamper economic growth in the region. Even as reforms in the ARMM were introduced resulting in initial positive response from investors, recent security-related incidents in some areas could dampen business interest in the entire region.
The Maute Group’s terror attacks in Lanao del Sur province only show violent extremism’s new trajectory, compounded further by recent developments such as the Islamic State’s expanding influence outside the Middle East.
These developments would adversely affect high-impact programs and projects that ARMM has recently introduced all over the region benefiting mostly conflict-affected and low-income communities.
Ulama leaders have noted that the threat of violent extremism and terrorism is not solely the problem and responsibility of political leaders but of religious leaders as well since many terrorists misrepresent and misuse the Islamic faith to justify violence and terrorism, which tarnish the image of Islam and Muslims.
The ulama emphasized that Islam could not be used to justify violent extremism and terrorism. Reeducation is necessary to rediscover the Islamic faith, specifically the principles of justice, compassion, peace and harmony, they added. Working with stakeholders to prevent and counter violent extremism and terrorism is important in this regard.
President Rodrigo Duterte leads the list of invited guests and Gov. Hataman will be present during the summit’s sessions. Others invited to the event are the ambassadors from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Singapore, and the United Nations’ representative to the Philippines.
Despite the gains due to reforms that have been implemented and institutionalized in the ARMM, there is a continuing challenge when it comes to local security and governance. This includes sustainable development which requires an inclusive, comprehensive and sustainable approach.
The ARMM’s experience in campaigns and programs against extremism, as well as the draft communication for peace action plan would also be shared. (Bureau of Public Information)
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