By Philippine News Agency
Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Tuesday led the launch of a holistic approach program that seeks to end violent extremism and bring about peace in the region.
Known as the Program Against Violent Extremism (PAVE) for Peace, it was officially launched at the headquarters of the Army’s 4th Special Forces Battalion in Barangay Cabunbata, this city.
Hataman said PAVE for Peace was conceptualized based on the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte “to talk all” especially to those misguided individuals who wanted to return to the folds of the law.
Initially, 139 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) from this province will benefit from the program. They recently surrendered to the government in separate occasions.
Most of them joined the ASG to protect their families from their rival clan or “rido” and not because of ideological beliefs.
“Those with pending cases and without clearance from the security forces cannot benefit from the program,” Hataman clarified.
He said they would also reach out to the victims of atrocities committed by the ASG for the success of the program and to achieve a lasting peace.
“I believe that those who committed crimes should be made answerable for their acts. But at the end of the day justice and peace is for all. Somebody should sacrifice to achieve lasting peace,” he said, citing they too have families who were beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf bandits.
“The victims who filed cases will also be addressed by the concerned agencies (of government),” Brig. Gen. Juvymax Uy, Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade commander, said.
“We should find solution to address the problem unless it will continue to exist,” Uy said.
Hataman said the PAVE for Peace program would involve all agencies of government to holistically address the problem on violent extremism.
Part of the program is to provide sustainable livelihood to the surrenderers since several of them joined the ASG for monetary consideration due to poverty.
The objectives of the program are to prevent returnees from going back; provide an opportunity to start anew; encourage more ASG members to surrender; provide an avenue for healing and increase grassroots support to countering violent extremism.
The launching program was graced by top military and police officials as well as cabinet secretaries of ARMM and non-government organization representatives.