CBCS conducts forum on peace and preventing violent extremism in Gensan.

The Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), in partnership with the Muslim Student Association of Ramon Magsaysay Memorial College (MSA-RMMC), conducted on January 29, 2018 a forum entitled “Promoting Peace and Preventing Violent Extremism in the Bangsamoro: Conversation with Students.” 

Seventy one (71) students from various colleges and universities here in General Santos City participated in the forum. The participants were mostly RMMC students but representatives from other colleges were also present

Prof. Rufa C. Guiam, former professor ofe Mindanao State University - General Santos City and author several published articles and speaker in several international conferences was the resource person of the forum.

Prof. Guiam spoke on two major topics: “The roots, “drivers” (push or pull), and strategies for addressing violent extremism” and “Salient features of the BBL and on Federalism.”

She started her talk by testing the knowledge of the student participants on the concept of terrorism. 

One answer from a student participant caught the attention of the speaker was that “Terrorism is a crime committed by a Muslim.” 

Having noticed the students’ lack of basic knowledge about terrorism, the speaker decided to clarify and elaborate on the basic concepts of radicalization, violent extremism, and terrorism. 

She said radicalization is the process by which individuals are introduced to an overtly ideological message and belief system that encourages movement from moderate, mainstream beliefs towards extreme views. 

But she emphasized that radicalism should not be equated with terrorism, and that people who hold radical views do not necessarily become terrorists or violent extremist. 

On the other hand, violent extremism is viewed as “encouraging, condoning, justifying, or supporting the commission of a violent act to achieve political, ideological, religious, social, or economic goals”. 

According to the UN Statement on the Plan of Action against Terrorism, terrorism has four common elements as follows: a) threat or use of violence; b) political objective, i.e. the desire to change the status quo; c) intention to spread fear by committing spectacular public acts (could be heinous or just bluffing actions), and d) intention to target civilians.

The speaker emphasized that terrorists are made, not born. She said there are factors that drive individuals, either pulling or pushing them to violent extremism. She enumerated seven socio-political conditions that may drive individuals into violent extremism, as follows:    

1. Denial of basic political rights and civil liberties

2. Harsh and brutal rule that entails gross violations of human rights

3. Widespread corruption and perceived immunity for well-connected elites

4. Poorly governed, weak and failing states, ungoverned areas

5. Protracted violent conflicts

6. Presence of repressive regimes widely perceived as illegitimate or bankrupt; absence of strong and legal opposition

7. Provision of previous support to VE movements by governments that once relied on those movements to serve their short term political or strategic interests.

In addressing the phenomenon of violent extremism, Prof. Guiam said the United Nations (UN) has identified the following areas where action/activities designed to address the issue of peace and violent extremism could be undertaken:

1. Dialogue and Conflict Prevention

2.  Strengthening Good Governance, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

3.  Engaging Communities

4.  Empowering Youth

5.  Gender Equality and Empowering Women

6.  Education, Skills Development and Employment Facilitation

7.  Strategic Communications, the Internet and Social Media

In her second talk, Prof. Guiam discussed briefly the salient features of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as well as on a comparison between Federalism and Unitary System.

CBCS expressed gratitude to Moammar Amal, MSA president, together with his fellow officers and members for assisting CBCS in the logistics preparation and in the overall conduct of the forum.