DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 October) — “The threat of extremism is still there even though the war in Marawi might have ended,” Mindanao’s lone Cardinal. Orlando Quevedo told a press conference at the end of the four-day 16th Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Conference at the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao on Thursday.
Quevedo said the defeat of the Maute brothers in Marawi and Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon “does not end the threat of extremism in Mindanao,” he said, adding there are continuing concerns that other groups in Mindanao with extremist ideologies are recruiting young people continuously.
“You still have the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter), you still have Abu Sayyaf, you still have many young people being recruited by the extremist groups, idealists who want to have something more than just — they are thinking of a caliphate, and the caliphate probably will not be anymore in Marawi but could be somewhere else, so the threat of extremism is still there even though the war in Marawi might have ended,” Quevedo said.
Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, who will assume the Presidency of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on December 1. said participants to the conference — 249 from the dioceses in Mindanao – did not discuss the issue of lifting martial law during the four-day meet.
He said the reaction of the participants was more focused on helping Marawi. “There is deep, sincere, passionate concern (to help rebuild Marawi). But it didn’t cross our mind, we did not talk about ending martial law but let us help the people of Marawi. That was very evident in the conference,” he said. (See other story)
Cagayan de Oro City Archbishop Antonio Ledesma said they have been sending relief and rehabilitation mission trips to the displaced Marawi residents who evacuated to neighboring Lanao del Sur towns and Iligan City.
He said Duyog Marawi (Accompany Marawi) is also mobilizing resources through the help of the Redemptorists and other groups to provide relief and rehabilitation support to the people of Marawi.
Ledesma said it’s a long-term effort to help the displaced people recover and redevelop Marawi. He acknowledged the solidarity among Christians and Muslims “sharing a common humanity.”
What hapened in Marawi, he said, is not a religious war but a war on terrorism.
“This is a war against terrorism and it is now an effort to rebuild Marawi together among Christian and Muslim volunteers,” he said.
He said social action centers of the dioceses and international partners in the social action field will be assisting the Prelature of Mindanao.
More than structural rehabilitation on Marawi, Quevedo emphasized the need for “rehabilitation of the souls and hearts that have been traumatized by the destruction of Marawi.”
“I’m sure how many years from now – 10 15 years from now – Marawi will be looking better than the old Maraw. But the loss of old, old structures, built before the war and date back perhaps to the Spanish times, those are loss that cannot be recovered. A new Marawi might rise but it is different from the old and the people there will be nostalgic about the old,” he said.
Archbishop Julius Tonel of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay underscored the need to strengthen the inter-religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims and the need for the continuous formation of leaders to eradicate biases and prejudices.
“As mentioned by Cardinal (Quevedo), our level of priest-imam (dialogue) we would have to enhance it, to my way of looking at, laying leaders who would be animators, so that the parish priest would have accompanying coordinator to assist him in programming how we can reach out to our Muslim brothers, or the interfaith as such,” he said.
“To me this is very fruitful convention, we have been talking about this but never to this much depth in the necessity of really crating our parishes as venues for peace interfaith,” Tonel added. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)