COTABATO CITY—Terrorists are stepping up their recruitment efforts, offering potential recruits thousands of pesos as a come-on, peace officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said Monday.
Romeo Sema, chairman of the ARMM’s Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission (RRUC-ARMM), said he received reports that covert recruitment efforts were backed by “tempting offers” to individuals approached by clandestine groups, probably working for local terrorists that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
Dammang Bantala, president of the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College, told a TV interview that small groups have converged on the school’s campus, “showing a dangerous tendency to embrace the black flag of extemism.”
In Pagadian City, authorities arrested five suspected recruits of the Maute gang, which overran Marawi City on May 23. The five told investigators that 10 other members of the terrorist group were being treated for gunshot wounds at a private hospital there, a source privy to the warrantless arrest and subsequent probe, said.
An elderly member of a Christian community in Zamboanga Sibugay also said his kin had met strangers offering recruits anywhere from P25,000 to P100,000, depending on the level of commitment to participate in terror missions.
A statement released by the RRUC-ARMM today said money-baited recruits would then become potential “victims of deliberate misguidance to misrepresent Islam [through] senseless killings, particularly of civilians.”
“We call on our brothers and sisters and our own children to resist … tempting offers in terms of financial [rewards] to become [terrorists],” the statement said.
Sema said the greatest challenge to Filipino Muslims today is to “sustain [their] own aspirations as a people against the backdrop of widespread propaganda that tend to hijack the Moro struggle for the right to self-determination into the alien framework of the Syrian and Iraqi experiences.”
“We call on them to please stop Arabizing the Moro struggle. The Bangsamoro and these Arab nations have had different experiences as peoples distinct [from] each other,” Sema said.
Sema said the “conveyors of international fascists’ interest” [are] destroying Islam [using] billions of dollars from the spoils of wars in Syria and Iraq by sending people to sow terror.”
He said Philippine Muslim youth and children in the countryside should be “spared from any form of unnecessary exposure to war when they are supposed to be in school seeking knowledge; or elsewhere charting the course of their own future.”
“We condemn any movement portraying Islam as a ‘barbaric religion’ that neither teaches nor exercises respect for and tolerance toward other religions,” the RRUC-ARMM statement said.
The RRUC-ARMM statement also said it condemns the recent bombing of the Golden Mosque in Talayan, Maguindanao, and the reported desecration of Christian places of worship in Marawi City and in Pigcawayan, Cotabato.
“Attack on places of worship of other religions violates the Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad on the rights and protection of Christian citizens, which the Prophet said shall remain unaltered until Judgment Day.”
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