Gov't prepares to counter ISIS radicalization in Mindanao
Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) - September 27, 2014 - 4:29pm

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Malacañang is working on measures to counter the possible radicalization threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Philippines particularly in Mindanao which is seen as a vulnerable target due to the presence of the Abu Sayyaf and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a peace adviser confirmed.

Undersecretary Jose Lorena of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said at the sidelines of the Football for Peace Festival held at the ground of the Edwin Andrews Air Base that there are efforts from the government in curbing the plot of the ISIS to penetrate the country. The event involved children from the conflict areas to save them from being radicalized.

Lorena said the Anti-Terrorism Council, chaired by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, is carefully addressing the “road of radicalization" in Southeast Asia and Mindanao in particular.

Lorena said that authorities could not ascertain yet if the ISIS is already existing or how it grew in the country but there were already individuals who already committed or submitted their pledge to the terrorist group. However, there has been no proof yet of direct link.

“Our national security was verifying the road of the ISIS in our country. As of now there has been no proven fact or evidence to prove it. Although there was statement in effect. So that is being verified by our security sector,” Lorena said. 

Lorena said there were already programs being laid on the ground to curb the threats of the ISIS penetrating the country, part of which is the involvement of the madaris (Islamic schools) to counter extremism, and foster reconciliation and healing process. 

“Part of the program is the de-radicalization, we have office in the office of the president working on program of de-radicalization. We know about the influence and exploit of the extremists. Ang naging problema natin is not about the religion and culture, it is the case of extremism and moderation,” according to Lorena.

The deputy peace adviser said they will tap the moderate Islam believers and the academe in countering the extremists.

“Kasi itong mga extremists ang hindi umaayon doon sa banal na kasulatan. So kailangan i-engage hindi lang mga religious groups kung hindi mga academe,” Lorena said.

Lorena said that the Football for Peace Festival will also draw away the children from the lure of guns in the countryside, specially in areas known to have strong presence of the Abu Sayyaf and the BIFF.

ABU SAYYAF ABU SAYYAF AND BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS ANTI-TERRORISM COUNCIL EDWIN ANDREWS AIR BASE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO OCHOA ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND SYRIA LORENA PEACE FESTIVAL PEACE PROCESS SOUTHEAST ASIA AND MINDANAO
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