IN PHOTO- Dr. Safrullah M. Dipatuan, BDA Chairman delivering his message during the opening program of the agency’s Planning Workshop on the Prevention of Violent extremism in Bangsamoro on November 7, 2017 at Microtel, Davao City

Radicalism and violent extremism is driven by hopelessness due to government’s failure to address long-standing societal problems: Dr. Dipatuan

The Planning Workshop on Community-based Prevention of Violent Extremism spearheaded by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) formally started on November 7, 2017 at Microtel, Davao City. 

The opening program was graced by the Chair of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel Mohagher M. Iqbal, and other prominent personalities, while participants are representatives of various sectors of Bangsamoro Society, etc. The Asia Foundation (TAF) and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) are sponsoring the activity.

In his Opening Remarks, BDA Chairman Dr. Saffrullah M. Dipatuan described the 5-month long Marawi Siege as a “holocaust of sort with soldiers and police utilized more than 60% of their military might to fight the rebels”. 

“The artillery fires, helicopter gunships and aerial bombings destroyed civilian houses, private hospitals and schools and other public infrastructures”, Dr. Dipatuan said. 

“In fact, many people including Marawi residents complained of an over-kill. This is the reason cited by those who claim that in the Marawi siege the government may have won the battle but, definitely, not the war”, he added. 

In his remarks, Dr. Dipatuan said that “One of the most serious problems staring us in the eyes today is the emergence of terrorism and violent extremism that is being promoted mischievously in the name of Islam by radical groups exemplified by Daesh or ISIS”.

He described radicalism and violent extremism in the Philippines as “driven by hopelessness due to government’s failure to address long-standing societal problems such as injustices suffered by Indigenous Peoples including the Bangsamoro, abject poverty, unchecked graft and corruption in all levels of government bureaucracy, poor delivery of basic services, widespread trafficking”.

Violent extremism in the Muslim world, he said is relatively a new phenomenon. It is preceded by violent extremism in the west.

“Marawi City is home to more than 200,000 people with more than 90% of the residents are Muslims belonging to the Mranaw or Maranao tribe, the 2nd most populous of the 13 ethnic Muslim tribes in the Philippines. It is the most conservative Muslim place in Mindanao. It is the religious, economic and educational capital of the entire Province of Lanao del Sur”, Dr. Dipatuan said.

Dr. Dipatuan enumerated the reasons why Marwi was chosen by the ISIS-inspired Maute Group:

1. The choice of Marawi is crucial in the plan because the rural setting where houses are distantly located from each other is not a good condition for the siege. Marawi is the only urban city in Lanao Del Sur that makes it a perfect site for the attack.

2. The second reason for choosing Marawi is because of the fact that it is the only Islamic City in the entire Philippines. It is relatively peaceful. Big wars in the past spared Marawi for obvious reasons. So any violent incident that will happen in Marawi will make news and catch the attention of local and international media. 

3. The third reason is that these rebel groups plan to derail the on-going peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. They believe that the creation of a Bangsamoro Government is a major hindrance to their plan of establishing a Wilayat of ISIS in this part of Southeast Asia. This is because any group creating violence and chaos after the establishment of the Bangsamoro government will face a formidable alliance of the Philippine military and police, on one hand, and the combined forces of the MILF and MNLF, on the other hand. 

According to one estimate, it will take years – perhaps 70 – to restore Marawi to what it used to be. The devastation is so huge and widespread, as it looks like the picture of Manila after its liberation in World War II, with not one building left unscathed in the main battle zone where the Islamic Dawlah (Maute) rebels and their ISIS cohorts made their last stand, D. Dipatuan also said. 

“The national and local government must be serious about addressing the abovementioned long standing societal problems such as injustices committed against Indigenous Communities including the Bangsamoro, poverty, criminalities, graft and corruption, drug abuse and trafficking, etc”, he stressed. 

“In the context of the Bangsamoro areas, the government must grab this opportunity to once and for all pass the BTC-drafted Bangsamoro Basic Law in order to address hopelessness and frustration that are pushing our people to embrace terrorism and violent extremism. It will be a national disaster if the government misses this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”, Dr. Dipatuan further sad.

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Dr. Saffrullah M. Dipatuan is the Chairman of Bangsamoro Development Agency, Provincial Chief Executive Officer, MILF’s United Bangsamoro Justice Party, Province of Lanao del Sur and Chairman/Chief of Hospital, SMD General Hospital, Marawi City .


Announcement for the convening of the Bangsamoro Assembly