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Maguindanao plans interfaith summit vs extremism

The summit, tentatively scheduled on the second week of October, is now being organized by the inter-agency Maguindanao provincial peace and order council.
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — The police and military will support a two-day interfaith summit against violent religious extremism in Maguindanao province next month.
The summit, tentatively scheduled on the second week of October, is now being organized by the inter-agency Maguindanao provincial peace and order council.
Among the members of the council are officials of the 36-member league of mayors in the province and senior leaders of the local Muslim and Christian religious sectors.
Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, director of the Regional Police Office-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said on Friday that he has committed support to the initiative of the PPOC, chaired by Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.
“That summit is an activity that can boost the war on terror of President Rodrigo Duterte. The situation we are in now is something we have to focus our attention on cohesively, as one community,” Sindac said.
Mangudadatu told reporters at the sideline of the meeting on Wednesday of PPOC members that he will request Mindanao’s top Catholic leader, Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, to talk at the summit.
Quevedo, also archbishop of the Diocese of Cotabato that covers Catholic parishes in Maguindanao and nearby provinces, belongs to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation.
The congregation, whose pontifical base is in Rome, has been involved in humanitarian programs for Muslims and Christians in central Mindanao, in Sulu and in Tawi-Tawi since 1939.
PPOC members unanimously approved the conduct next month of the summit in their meeting last Wednesday in Buluan, capital town of Maguindanao.
The meeting was jointly presided over by Mangudadatu, the commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, and Senior Superintendent Agustin Tello of the Maguindanao provincial police office.
Among those who immediately expressed support for the planned summit was Mayor Abolais Manalao of Buldon town in the first district of Maguindanao.
Buldon hit the news about three weeks ago after President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned of sightings in the municipality of Islamic State-inspired militants from Marawi City in a speech while at the headquarters of the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City.
Combined Army and police teams assisted by barangay officials searched for militants around Buldon and Butig town in Lanao del Sur after Duterte’s announcement but found none.
Manalao told Mangudadatu and Dela Vega during the PPOC meeting that members of their municipal peace and order council, barangay captains, local Imams and the Iranun sultans and datus in Buldon are in control of their respective barangays.
Manalao said he and his constituents will support the planned summit against violent religious extremism to manifest their rejection of the un-Islamic ideals that misguided jihadists are trying to introduce to Muslim communities in Mindanao.
“We want the peace in our municipality preserved because there are now foreign investors ready to develop banana, coffee and cacao plantations in our barangays,” Manalao said.
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said on Friday that they will also help facilitate the planned security summit in Maguindanao province through the regional government’s local government department.
Hataman said he will ask members of the ARMM’s Regional Darul Iftah (House of Opinions), among them moderate clerics who studied Islamic theology in the Middle East and North Africa, to attend the two-day event.
The PPOC shall also invite senior officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to the summit, according to Mangudadatu.
The MILF and units of 6th ID are cooperating in trying to crush since August 1 a group of militants in the second district of Maguindanao which uses the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. of the Western Mindanao Command told The STAR on Friday that senior officials of all units of 6th ID will participate in the summit.
“We will also secure the venue of the summit very tightly to prevent saboteurs from getting close. This is an activity that violent religious extremists are so angry about,” Galvez said.
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