THE Regional Ulama Council has vowed to support President Rodrigo Duterte in purging the Maute group out of Marawi City and in pushing for peace and development in Mindanao.
The Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) said that the statement of support was issued when the Ulamas convened last on Monday, August 14 to talk on combating violent extremism in Mindanao.
Anchored on the theme, “Search for a Unified Voice for Peace and Justice,” the three-day Regional Ulama Conference was held in Iligan City, on August 14 to 16.
The religious scholars also promised to be involved in the rehabilitation of the battle-stricken city, especially in terms of “moral, spiritual, social, educational, and regional aspects.”
“They recommended that the Ulama be deputized to monitor the implementation of the reconstruction and rehabilitation (of Marawi City),” the Wesmincom said.
They also expressed strong support to the Fatwa declared by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the declaration of the Darul Ifta in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) to go against violent extremism.
A copy of the statement of the Ulamas was presented to National Defense Undersecretary Cesar Yano, who represented Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during the three-day conference.
The Regional Ulama Conference opened with an overview of violent extremism in the Philippines given by Professor Mark Anthony Torres of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT).
Torres, who is from the MSU-IIT’s Institute of Peace and Development in Mindanao, emphasized the vulnerability of the youth and students due to the climatic recruitment of the Daesh-inspired Maute group through social media.
He also mentioned that the young ones are “most vulnerable” and are good targets for recruitment because they are “able-bodied.”
Torres’ overview was supported by a situation briefing on the current developments in Marawi City by Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, Jr., Wesmincom chief, on the current developments in Marawi City.
Emphasizing the concept of shared responsibility, Galvez said multi-sectoral collaboration must be propagated to counter terrorism in Mindanao.
“The Wesmincom has a peculiar area of jurisdiction as it combats the Abu Sayyaf in ZamBaSulTa (Zamboanga-Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi) area, the local terrorist group and the communist terrorists in ZamPeLan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao) area, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Central Mindanao,” Galvez explained.
The Ulama Council has asked the government to end the aerial bombings and ensure the welfare of the affected families through humanitarian programs and personal encouragement of the President who, the Ulama said, must be visiting the displaced families.
“Such can be done by assuring the IDPs (internally displaced people) of food security and livelihood training; by strengthening and enhancing the relief assistance and distribution by governmental line agencies, and by giving assistance to the Ulama in providing the IDPs spiritual and religious training, especially among the youth, so that they will not be lured into joining extremist ideologies,” the Ulama council said in a written statement.
The Muslim scholars said they will cooperate with the government in its fight against extremism and in propagating true Islamic teaching, provided steps will be taken for the accreditation of the Madaris, the traditional Islamic and Arabic schools; for the revival of the Office of the Undersecretary for Madaris Education in the Department of Education (DepEd); and for safeguarding and maximizing the operation of MSU in Marawi City.
Aside from Galvez, Yano and Torres, the others who joined the three-day Regional Ulama Conference are: Aleem Aboali Cali, president of the Ulama League of the Philippines; Aleem Abu Mohammad Sarangani, member of the Rabitatul Alam Al-Islamic; Aleem Sadic Mohammad Usman, representative of Hayyatul Ulama Bi’l Filibin; Dr. Hamid A Barra; Dean of the King Faisal Center for Arabic and Islamic Studies at MSU; Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandarma; Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong, Jr.; and, Major General Melquiades Feliciano, Armed Forces’ chief for Civil-Military Operation who represented General Eduardo Año, AFP Chief of Staff. (SunStar Philippines)