The Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division’s presentation on“Marawi Crisis and Violent Extremism: What is to be done?” was one of the highlights during the 6th Lanao del Norte Provincial Barangay Congress spearheaded by Governor Imelda “Angging” Quibranza-Dimaporo at Mindanao Civic Center in Tubod municipality.
Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar A. Herrera, Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations (G7) represented the division in the event which was attended by representatives from 22 municipalities of Lanao del Norte.
Gov. Quibranza-Dimaporo said she was thankful for the presentation of Lt. Col. Herrera, which provided an overview of what happened in Lanao del Sur with regard to the Marawi City crisis since May 23, 2017.
“We were really worried because the spill over will be Lanao del Norte being the adjacent province. Out of 22 municipalities, 19 are hosting evacuees from Marawi. I am appealing to the barangay officials that they do not allow these extremists to go to our province and do not cuddle sympathizers or supporters of these extremists,” Gov. Quibranza-Dimaporo said.
“We are saddened with what happened to our troops in Marawi City. They also have families but they are fighting for the Maranaos. It’s really sad to know that there are even negative statements being thrown at them. Here in Lanao del Norte, we are fully supportive of the soldiers and Martial Law. We are safer and the province is more peaceful with Martial Law. The troops are always included in our prayers for their safety,” Gov. Quibranza-Dimaporo said.
Lanao del Norte:”Land of Beauty and Bounty”
In his message, Lt. Col. Herrera said the strategic location of the province of Lanao del Norte also known as the “Land of Beauty and Bounty” links Western Mindanao to Central and Eastern Mindanao and can serve as a catalyst for the development of trade and other economic interactions to neighboring provinces.
Although separated when the government established two provinces of Lanao in 1959, Lanao del Norte and del Sur up until the present time are one and united in their desire for peace and prosperity, Lt. Col. Herrera said.
As mentioned by Brig. Gen. Rolly Bautista, Commander of Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division and Joint Task Force Marawi, in his message during the launching of Department of Trade and Industry’s Negosyo Center in Marawi City a few days before the Marawi Crisis, Lt. Col. Herrera said: “The people of Lanao are known for their bravery and unity. They stood brace and united against the Spaniards, the Americans, and the Japanese foreign invaders. The people of Lanao know that being brave and united, they can face any challenge, and they can be successful in solving problems in their communities.”
The Marawi crisis and your Army
A briefer on the Marawi Crisis was presented with emphasis on terrorists being the perpetrators of the problem that resulted to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Marawi residents, whose physical, emotional and psychological make-up were affected. The following are excerpts from Lt. Col. Herrera’s message:
“The Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorist groups wanted to occupy Marawi because of their greed for power and money. They are not fighting for Islam and they have a corrupted view of Jihad because they only want to sow terror, hate and division among peace loving Muslims and Christians.”
“This is the reason why your soldiers are fighting the terrorists in Marawi to preserve peace and order. Your soldiers are fulfilling their mandate to serve our people and protect our land. Your soldiers are just like the people of Lanao del norte who are standing brave and united against the terrorists.”
“With the ongoing battle against the terrorists, your government is doing its best to take care of those who are affected. Your Army is ensuring the successful implementation of Humanitarian Missions including Relief Operations, Community Engagements, and Psychosocial Activities including initiatives for children in affected communities.”
“Your Army intends to maintain its strong support and partnerships with local leaders for peace building in the communities at the barangay level. We will organize peace building events including Youth Leadership Summits, Social Media Summit, Educational Sociocultural Tours, and Project Enlightenment for out-of-school youth and students.”
“Several Civil Military Operation programs are being implemented with the end view of being able to establish a strong support mechanism from the communities to further develop an authentic and credible messaging to counter violent extremism, taking into consideration the local context and culture.”
Violent extremism and the youth
“The evolving network of terrorists in Mindanao complements regional trend of terrorism observed in the South East Asia region. Radicalization or violent extremism, which leads to terrorism have already taken place in our land. The extent of radical indoctrination among our youth has been uncovered in the ongoing crisis in Marawi where youngsters are involved and form the main forces of Maute/ASG.”
“As part of counter violent extremism measures, Joint Task Force Marawi together with partners are conducting activities to harness community support to counter radicalization in affected areas in order to suppress or reduce the vulnerability of at-risk communities from the threat posed by violent extremism leading to terrorist organization recruitment.”
What should be done to counter violent extremism?
- The significant need of activities to counter violent extremism among the youth should be emphasized.
- Children and youth should be empowered to increase their awareness and understanding about peace and non-violent path.
- Partnerships of communities should be increased to provide interventions among the youth.
- More dialogue spaces and approaches in dealing with the conflict should be provided such as empowering traditional leaders, ulama, academe, and instituions.
- Support Peace Education Programs focusing on counter violent extremism should be promoted in Lanao del Norte.
In conclusion, Brig. Gen. Rolly Bautista statement was quoted: “Together in Unity, we can bravely face any challenge in countering violent extremism among our youth. With your help and support to your soldiers, we can build a lasting peaceful environment for Lanao del Norte.”
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