Dealing with terrorists in our communities
THE KNEE-JERK reaction of Mauga Sarip, chief information officer of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (Inquirer, 5/23/11) to a news item based on an earlier statement of mine (Inquirer, 5/10/11) is most unfortunate as it tends to send a wrong signal, but let us respect his opinion, anyway.
First of all, let me assure the public, our Muslim brothers in particular, that the Philippine National Police is not engaged in any form of witch-hunt or arbitrary round-up of suspected terrorists and criminals in Muslim communities in the country.
I cannot agree with his excuse that the two wanted Abu Sayyaf suspects, Arabani Jakiran and Asdatul Sakirun, arrested earlier by police in separate operations in Metro Manila, were merely practicing the Muslim custom of visiting relatives in the city and, therefore, should not be subject to police action.
Our justice system, in fact, defines the culpability of the suspects’ relatives who provided safe haven to their wanted kin, one of whom is accused in the beheading of soldiers, while the other was involved in the infamous siege of Lamitan, Basilan.
The arrest of wanted terror suspects Jakiran and Sakirun should prompt leaders and residents of Muslim communities to be vigilant against possible infiltration of their neighborhood by Abu Sayyaf extremists who come to the city to “cool off” from the heat of police-military operations in the South.
The situation opens our eyes to the reality that extremist terrorists can actually thrive in our midst if we lower our guard and lend ourselves more to excuses than to actions.
Incidents like this are, in fact, among the concerns raised by our brother Muslims who belong to the Philippine Salaam Police Community Relations Civilian Volunteers (PSPCRCV), which held their 1st National Assembly recently.
PSPCRCV’s recognition of the actions of the PNP to flush out terrorist and criminal elements from the otherwise peaceful Muslim communities in Metro Manila is a brave and strong-willed acknowledgment of the problem.
—AGRIMERO A CRUZ JR.,
police chief superintendent,
spokesman, Philippine National Police
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