ARMM LGUs urged to support Islamic school programs vs extremism

By John Unson


The ARMM’s education department has a Madaris Education Bureau that employs moderate clerics to handle classes focused on Islamic humanitarian principles. John Unson, file
COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao officials will begin looking for funding for Madaris schools helping address religious extremism and drug abuse in far-flung areas of the region.
In a resolution, the Regional Peace and Order Council enjoined local government units to help bankroll the peace education projects of Madaris schools propagating Islamic values, which include religious solidarity through interfaith dialogues.
There are private Madaris schools in ARMM that have moderate Islamic theologians who teach peace education as volunteers.
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 that employs moderate clerics to handle classes 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 clerics helping prevent the spread of violent religious extremists in their 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 local communities should not lump moderate clerics with extremist ones that advocate violence.
“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, local government and private Islamic schools and community-based clerics can work together.
Kirby Abdullah, regional local government secretary, said Monday the executive department of ARMM will also focus on setting up an anti-terrorism task force and a regional anti-drug abuse council in support of Malacañang’s peace initiatives in the southern provinces.
The creation of the two inter-agency bodies was agreed by members of the regional peace and order council during a meeting in Cotabato City on December 4.
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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