Southern Philippines’ Clerics to help 'reform' Abu Sayyaf members who surrendered to authorities

Muslim religious leaders (MRL) in the Southern Philippine Region of Mindanao said they would help "reform" members of the Abu Sayyaf terror group who have surrendered to authorities, UCANews said in its May 16 report.

Alih Sakaluran Aiyub, Secretary-General of the Ulama Council of the Philippines, said efforts are underway to help reform former terrorists.

"We will mainly help in the debriefing process and re-education," said Aiyub in an interview with 

He said they would focus on the "aspect of psychological" needs of those who surrendered, adding that the mechanisms that they will use need to be "subtle."

"Our approach is not terrorizing the terrorists," said Aiyub, one of the facilitators of a summit of Muslim clerics and scholars in Cotabato City this week.

The summit participated by hundreds of ulama and aleema , organized by the Darul Ifta of the Autonomous Muslim government of Mindanao, discussed the threat of terrorism in the region.

The religious leaders agreed that the former terrorists, at least 50 of them who surrendered in recent months, can "effectively" convince active fighters to give up.

"They can be very effective," said Aiyub, adding that, "we have to win their hearts and minds."

The MRL’s shall hold series of consultations with local officials and the security sector to achieve their goal of reforming former Abu Sayaaf members.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., Chief of the Philippine Army’s Western Mindanao Command, welcomed the initiative of the religious sector.

"It would be a great help if the Ulama can re-orient and refocus the malign and distorted reasoning of the terror groups," Galvez told

He highlighted the "need to unite all our efforts to win the war against Islamic extremism and terrorism in our region."

Aiyub said a long-term solution to the problem of terrorism in the southern Philippine region "has been proved challenging."

"We have to counter them ideologically.... We cannot argue with them directly if they are armed," he said.