DEPUTY Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman yesterday underscored the importance of involving the community, including the barangay and the local government, in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism amid the rising incidence of suicide bombings in Mindanao.
“Naniniwala ako na hindi dapat natin basta i-asa lang sa pulis at militar ang ating problema sa terorismo at violent extremism. Mahalaga na pati ang buong komunidad ay sumama dito sa pagsugpo sa mga elementong ito, pati na ang LGU at barangay,” said Hataman, a former governor of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“What we need is a convergence of efforts. Magtulungan tayo. Huwag lang tayo dumepende sa national government. We should have a national action plan that involves the community or barangay. Kasi sila naman ang nakakaalam kung sinong bago sa lugar nila at kung sino ang naiimpluwensiyahan ng violent extremism,” Hataman added.
The Basilan legislator noted that violent extremism is on the decline due to the combined efforts of the citizens, local and national government officials, and security forces. And this is further strengthened by the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“Bumaba na ang quantity pero hindi sila nawawala. Ang nakakatakot, tumataas naman ang quality. Now we hear of the first confirmed case of a Filipino suicide bomber na dati ay wala. This escalation in tactics and extremist ideology is alarming,” Hataman lamented.
“Dati, hahabulin mo lang sa kabundukan ang mga terorista. At madali kung foreigner ang involved. Ngayon, may suicide bomber na na Pilipino. I hope this will be the last, pero kung hindi, we really need to address this and nip it at the bud. Huwag natin hayaan madagdagan pa ang suicide bombing dito,” Hataman further stated.
The twin blasts in Indanan, Sulu last June 28 was the first officially confirmed case of a Filipino suicide bombing in the Philippines. Two other recent bombings were perpetrated by violent extremist groups: one was in front of a public market in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat on Sept. 7 where seven people were hurt, and the other in Indanan, Sulu, on Sept. 9, where the lone casualty was the perpetrator herself.
Hataman said the perfect example of the convergence of the community and the local and national security forces was in Bohol, when the Abu Sayyaf Group attempted to infiltrate a village in the province in 2017.
As ARMM governor, Hataman started the Program Against Violent Extremism or PAVE that implements a holistic approach in curbing violent extremism and allow those in these groups to re-integrate into society and become productive citizens.