Lanao Del Sur Ulama, Local Executives and Multi-sectors gather in a bid to foster unity

The Ulama League of the Philippines (ULP) held the Ulama-LGU Executives Multi Sectoral Groups Conference on the Marawi Crisis on September 4-6, 2017 at N Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City. "Towards Establishing a Unified Strength in Combating Violent Extremism" was the theme.

Judge Aboali J. Cali, the National President of the ULP, officially opened the program in the 1st day.

The participants were mainly from the Ulama/religious sectors and local executives in Lanao del Sur. Almost all the all Mayors of the thirty-nine Municipalities participated and stayed for two nights. Multi sectors, such as academe, professionals, business, and traditional leaders also honored the invitation. 

The organizers also invited the MILF Peace Corridor/Joint Coordination, Monitoring and Assistance Center (JCMAC) volunteers to attend the conference. Rody Pacasum of CCCH Ranaw Region; Ustaz Japar of the LMT-MILF; and Marjanie Mimbantas of the MILF PIP. 

One of the highlights of the conference was the lecture on "Islam Between Peace and Violent Extremism: An Overview" delivered by Dr. Hamid A. Barra, professor at King Faisal Center for Islamic, Arabic and Asian Studies, Mindanao State University, Marawi City. 

Dr. Barra discussed thoroughly that Islam is for Peace. He said that the word "Islam" originates from the word "Salama" or "Istaslama" which can be meant as "Peace and Security" or "Order and Harmony," in addition to the original meaning of  "Obedience, Surrender and Submission to the Will of Allah. 

Workshop was also part of the program. The participants are divided into five groups, and each is given a set of questions to answer after brainstorming with other members of the group. The six questions are: 

1. If Islam is a religion of peace and harmony, what do you think are the manifestations of this in the social life of the Muslims?

2. What can you sacrifice in attaining peaceful society?

3. If you have a relative or friend who espouses the violent extremist interpretation of Islam, what will you do?

4. What can you suggest to unify the Muslims against extremism?

5. What do you think can the government do to help in strengthening the Madrasah system of education and in developing a curriculum for peace building and combatting violent extremism?

6. What can we help in enhancing the reconstruction and rehabilitation in Marawi City?

Based on the workshop, the participants gave official statement, declaration and recommendations to the government. Among them are: 

1. To declare their commitment to Islam as complete way of life that enjoins peace and abhors extremism, violence and terrorism; 

2. To urge all sectors of society who are committed to peace, justice and development to join their call for total eradication of violent extremism in their society;

3. To request the National Government to extend full support and assistance to Madrasah as an educational institution that can serve as a strong and viable vehicle in the eradication of the violent extremism in their society;

4. To implore the President of the Philippines to ensure the continuos well-being of the internally displaced persons in evacuation centers and the private homes;

5. To urge the National Government through the Congress of the Philippines for the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law so that the agreements between the Government and the Moro Liberation Fronts can see light of implementation; and 

6. To beseech the National Government to facilitate the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi City and other affected municipalities of Lanao del Sur as soon as the terrorists are purged out of the city.  

The participants also expressed their gratitude to the Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur for supporting the conference, and to the City Government of Cagayan de Oro City for welcoming them and for taking care of the IDPs in the City. 

The official statement was read by Aleem Alibasher I. Abdulatif, the National Speaker of the ULP. 

Among the Officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines who graced the conference were Delfin Lorenzana, Secretary of the Department of National Defense; Cesar B. Yano, the Executive Director of Bangon Marawi Rehabilitation; and Lt. General Carlito Galvez Jr., the Commander of the Western Mindanao Command. 

Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Mayor Majul Gandamra of Marawi City and 

Vice Governor Bombit Adiong, Jr. of Lanao del Sur were also present.