Civilians key in fight vs terror—Lanao execs
MARAWI CITY — Officials of Lanao del Sur province are urging residents to take on a bigger role to fight violence and terrorism after the government campaign against Islamic State-inspired groups laid siege to Marawi City, displacing nearly the entire population of the provincial capital.
“To defeat the rise of violent extremism in our country, we emphasize on civilian participation and to take into account the role of both the community of Muslims and non-Muslims alike,” said Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson for the provincial crisis management committee.
Adiong said while government forces tackled terror threats head on, civilians should also be encouraged to participate in efforts to curb transnational crimes.
“Parallel efforts between the security sector and civilian populace must be a continuing process in order to respond effectively and efficiently whenever threat of terror attacks emerge,” he said.
Adiong said Muslims, for example, must “stand united against violent ideology and must dismiss terrorism as an act against the Islamic faith.”
“A crime committed against innocent people on a pretext of a religious war must be condemned in form and in substance,” he added.
Adiong said Christians must also help by “ensuring that any faith outside the doctrines of catechism is not a proclivity to commit crime.”
“This way, we prevent the rise of Islamophobia which, in many cases, evolve into bigotry, discrimination and even murder,” he said.
He said only by “shared responsibility and understanding” that the religious divide could be bridged “in order to keep our communities safer and more secure.”
Adiong warned that unless there was more active civilian role, the five-month fighting that happened here starting May 23 would not be the last.
“We now realize that the threat is real,” he said. “The enemy is not about religion but an ideology that is both foreign and violent.”
Gov. Soraya Adiong said: “We believe that if all sectors of the society unite and work together to secure peace in our land, the crisis we have recently experienced here shall never occur again.”
The military said it recognized the role of the community in fighting terror because it had also been proven in recent days.
Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., deputy commander of the Joint Task Group Ranao, cited the arrest on Wednesday of Indonesian militant Muhammad Ilham Syahputra by members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team of Loksadatu village.
He said because the military was counting on the cooperation of civilians, it continued to pull out troops here even if the manhunt for stragglers continued. —Richel Umel and Divina Suson
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