Baguio cops to check Islamic scholars for terror ties
BAGUIO CITY — Mayor Mauricio Domogan announced early this week that he had ordered the Baguio City police to acquire a list of Islamic scholars who graduated from Muslim-run schools here to make sure that they had not joined any terrorist groups.
“We are validating a report that certain schools have graduates that are involved in terrorist actions in Mindanao and other areas,” Domogan said in a news briefing here.
The report, which was presented at the meeting of the Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council in Apayao province on Sept. 7, cited unverified accounts that Muslim schools were being used to indoctrinate Islamic scholars on extremism.
The report said some of these scholars had been sent abroad to undergo training by extremist groups.
The council did not release the names of the schools. Domogan, the council chair, said the graduates on the list would be investigated by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos and the Anti-Terrorism Council.
He said he also discussed the supposed presence of extremist schools in Baguio with US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim during a meeting this week.
It was likely that these schools “do not know they were being used,” Domogan said, adding that these institutions were not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or with the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education.
The city has 7,000 Muslim residents.
A group of Muslim residents, the Sinar Association, said its members in Baguio and Benguet province would not support any form of terrorism.
Most members of the Muslim community were born here and had never suffered the trauma their elders endured from hostilities in Mindanao, according to Sinar Association president, Samsodin Monib.
Acknowledging that the issue was a sensitive matter for Muslim residents, Domogan said the Baguio police would approach their investigation with care and objectivity.
“If a terrorist act happens in Baguio, even if local Muslims are not involved, the perception of the people is they are the ones [behind it],” he said.
Details of the report on Islamic schools being used to indoctrinate students on extremism have not been made available, though. —Karlston Lapniten
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