Muslim community gets role in Catanduanes’ socio-economic development

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Filipino Muslims pray inside the Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoc/Trust.org
Filipino Muslims pray inside the Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoc/Trust.org

LEGAZPI CITY (18-Sept-2012/PNA) – Apart from peace building, Muslim communities in Catanduanes province are now officially recognized as partners of local governments in socio-economic development.

Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua, in a statement, said the provincial government had officially accepted and recognized the participation of Muslim communities in the development of the province following the recent approval of the ordinance creating the Catanduanes Muslim Community Consultative Council (CMCCC).

Principally authored by provincial board member Edwin Tatel, the ordinance which was unanimously approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), Cua said, emphasizes the important role and participation of the Muslim Community in the socio-economic development of the province.

The CMCCC, according to the governor “shall serve as a coordinating and advisory body to the Provincial Government in the formulation of policies, plans and programs for the well-being of Muslim Filipinos in Catanduanes, in conformity with existing laws, orders and issuances and in consonance with local and national unity and development.”

In response, Ibhahim Cabrera, president of the Catanduanes Muslim Community assured the utmost cooperation of the Muslim Community to the different programs of the provincial government, Cua said.

There are presently about 2,000 Muslim families that have left their places in Mindanao and have chosen to settle in Catanduanes particularly in the municipalities of Virac, the provincial capital, Bato and San Andres. Cua said, they are engaged in trade and commerce by establishing stores and vending along sidewalks consumer items.

“They are industrious, law abiding and peaceful people who, through their trade are helping the local economy. They are closely knitted with each other and ready to cooperate with local governments in its social development programs,” according to the governor.

For the Philippine National Police (PNP) whose provincial office is a member of the Council’s Peace and Order Committee, Bicol regional police director Chief Supt. Jose Arne de Los Santos based at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here said this is a welcome development for the island province’s quest for economic development and maintenance of peace and order.

The Committee is responsible for the formulation of plans, programs and strategies for the promotion and enhancement of peace and order as well as provisions of security measures in Muslim communities in the whole province, De los Santos said.

It may also advise and/or recommend to the provincial governor measures to address grievances, disputes and legal problems involving misdemeanors involving Muslim communities which would be tackled by the Council.

Moreover, the Bicol police chief said the CMCCC will serve as an avenue to the Catanduanes Porvincial Police Office (PPO) program on Salaam Police Center (SPC) which is the operating unit of the Salaam Police actively providing assistance on anti-terrorism campaign and coordination of police matters in Muslim communities.

The SPC is a division under the Directorate for Police Community Relations (PCR) with its functions assimilated at the police regional, provincial and community office levels to support government’s campaign against terrorism and criminality involving lawless Muslim personalities, according to De los Santos.

The functions of the SPC include close monitoring, networking and liaising activities with Muslim communities addressing terrorism and lawless violence in their respective areas to ensure respect of cultural elders, ulama and Muslim scholars.

It is also tasked to conduct training, seminars and continuing education to the Muslim and non-Muslim PNP personnel in terms of counter radicalization and deradicalization efforts of the PNP.

Counter radicalization and deradicalization is a reverse process of radicalization to discourage the extremists to use political violence and terrorism and to prevent recruitment from Muslim communities.

The scope of the strategy in counter radicalization and deradicalization, De los Santos explained is to eradicate the intent of the radicals to commit crime and terrorism.

The SPC also conduct information dissemination about Muslim beliefs, culture and traditions to non-Muslim personnel, students from different levels and the tri-media through dialogues, radio guesting, school visitations and flyers distribution to promote harmony and awareness.

At the same time, the Center serves as a coordinating body among regular PNP operating units, other Salaam Police offices in the ground and Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP0 units in the conduct of police operations against Muslim personalities or in Muslim communities including arrest, investigation and filing of cases to safeguard the proper implementation of law and observance of human rights.

The Salaam Police, De los Santos added, operates with autonomy as a separate police unit with appropriate personnel and logistical and financial capabilities. (PNA)

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