Muslims in Cebu seek police protection
- by Freeman News Service () - May 18, 2000 - 12:00am

CEBU - Muslim leaders in the province are turning to the police for protection for fear that those who hate their brother Muslims in Mindanao might retaliate and attack their peaceful communities here.

Members of the Metro Cebu Muslim Peace and Order Council sought protection for their respective communities from police regional director Tiburcio Fusilero.

They assured Fusilero of their cooperation in spotting Muslim terrorists who may find their way to Cebu amid intelligence reports that 16 suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf arrived in Mactan recently.

Hadji Nashier Ismael, the council's chairman, said Muslims in Cebu are peace-loving people. He asked Fusilero during a meeting the other day for police-issued identification cards for the 10,000 members of the council.

He said Muslims started migrating to Cebu since the early 70s to get away from the war in Mindanao.

"In pursuit of peace and unity with our Christian brothers, we reaffirm our pledge of support to the government and the people of Cebu," Ismael said.

One of the Muslim leaders said they can easily point out suspected terrorists to the police.

But in a two-page manifesto, the Muslims also asked for police protection "from elements who may have hatred for (our) brother Muslims in Mindanao and may turn on us here with violence."

Fusilero assigned Chief Inspector Joshua Gillamac, a Tausug, as police liaison officer with the Muslim communities in Cebu.

Gillamac will be closely coordinating with regional director Faroule Batugan of the Office of Muslim Affairs.

Muslim leaders, meanwhile, asked media to be "extra careful" in treating issues regarding the Mindanao crisis. They asked journalists to avoid associating Muslims here with those involved in the Mindanao conflict.

They also asked the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to return to the negotiating table to achieve peace in Mindanao.

They also pledged to help in the drive against illegal drugs. Over 200 Muslim students will take part in a protest rally against illegal drugs and drug traffickers when the new school year opens next month.

Police, meanwhile, are looking into reports that 16 alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf and an undetermined number of new arrivals from Mindanao arrived on board a kumpit in Cordova, a coastal town in Mactan.

The intelligence reports said the 16 suspected Muslim extremists are now distributed in Sitios Humayhumay and Iba of Barangays Gun-ob and Basak, all in Lapu-Lapu City.

Police still have to verify these reports.

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