The Islamic Center in Quiapo, one of the biggest Muslim communities in the metropolis, reassured Mayor Joseph “Erap” E. Estrada of its support for his anti-terrorism and criminality programs to keep peace and order in the city of Manila.
Following the recent arrest of three suspected members of Abu Sayyaf in Quezon City deemed to sow chaos during the Asean summit a couple of weeks ago, Grand Imam Solaiman Sarangani guaranteed the local chief executive that they will not allow any terrorist or criminal to hide in their community.
“Kami ay lagi[ng] nagpapaalala sa mga kapatid na Muslim na kung mayroon kayo[ng] makikita o mapapansin na hindi kanais-nais ipag[bigay]-alam agad sa kinauukulan [We remind our Muslim comrades to report to the authority any suspicious individual or thing that they see],” said the senior Muslim cleric.
“Lahat tayo naniniwala na kung mayroon peace ay may ginhawa at uunlad ang komunidad [All of us believe that if there’s peace, there’s progress and development in the community],” he added.
Estrada, in return, expressed appreciation for the Muslim community’s support for the local government of Manila.
“The city government is thankful to the cooperation and unwavering support of our Muslim brothers and sisters. In times like this, we have to work together to fight extremism and violence,” he said.
A Filipino Muslim youth group based in Maynila also pledged to help maintain lawfulness within the city.
“We remain committed to peace as Muslims because Islam is our way of life which is peaceful. Our contribution to peace in Manila is Islam, ganoon lang po kasimple ‘yun [it’s that simple],” said Alnajib Butlangan Maujon, director of Markaz Dar-Attazkiyah (Abode of Purification Islamic Library and Da’wa Center) and leader of Federation of Muslim Students Association (FMSA)-Manila.
“We work at our organization to promote education and youth empowerment. We remain to be part of the solution and not the problem,” he added.
Maujon said they are conducting an interfaith dialogue in different places as part of their Islamic awareness program.
“This is to promote mutual respect, interdependence, tolerance and unity amid diversity among youths from all religions and faith,” he said.
The Manila City Hall, led by Estrada, immediately acted to protect the Quiapo Muslim community when the terrorism activities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-backed Maute Group attacked Marawi early this year.
Together with Manila Police District Director Chief Supt. Joel Coronel, the local chief executive formed a joint security arrangement with community and religious leaders.
Amid reports that there were foreign jihadists who entered the country, Estrada ordered to further coordinate with the three Muslim communities in Quiapo, Sta. Mesa, at Baseco Compound to ensure the safety of the people.
An agreement among the local government, community and religious leaders in Quiapo was signed to report to the police any dubious individual or situation seen within the community.