The forum gathered 51 sectoral representatives composed of the academe, the religious leaders, the Interreligious Solidarity for Peace leaders, and the security sector who vowed to work together for peace and security in the region.

Fr. Angel Calvo CMF, President and Lead Convener of the Peace Advocates Zamboanga and Interreligious Solidarity for Peace, welcomed the participants and prompted that “the celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace is a reminder for all the sectors of the society the responsibility to contribute to all levels of elements to attain and achieve peace”.

The forum started with a presentation on the updates of the peace and security in the region, and with a reflection from the Marawi Siege shared by LtCol Carlito G. Galvez Jr., Commander Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom).

LtCol Galvez stressed that the “the threat of terrorism is real”, in which he believes that “terrorism will continue thrive with the presence and emergence of the presence of foreign and local terrorists group in the Southern Philippines”.

Underscoring that online terrorism greatly contributed to the radicalization in Mindanao and the advent of technologies had affected the recruitment of the terrorist group, he appealed to the participants the need to counter terrorism.

“Security is a shared responsibility...the need to unite all the efforts of the stakeholders in the community and sharing the narratives of the Marawi siege to the young generation that violent extremism will bring forth massive destruction, brutal deaths and create miseries to the people,” he further added.

Ways Forward

The forum stemmed substantive discussions and recommendations from the participants. As such, they were able to present their “doable” actions that will help in countering violent extremism and terrorism in the region, and specifically they hope to have:
a) Real empowerment of the Ulama (Regional Councils, National Mufti);
b) Intra-Inter religious dialogue and solidarity, more involvements of religious leaders on issues on peace and development, human security, etc.
c) Education: peace education in school, madrasa education and ALIVE (level off definition of MADRASA), Unification of Madrasa Curriculum and standardization of the Islamic teaching.
d) Collaborations of the community, law enforcement agencies and the local government units
e) Women empowerment through strengthening their community involvement
f) Proper coordination and establishment of an open line of communication with other stakeholders.