BAGUIO CITY- – Muslim leader Bon Amin Torres has said that the city’s Muslim community is working side by side with the residents to protect the city from criminality and terrorism.
“Our Muslim brothers consider Baguio City as their second home, “he said. “They expressed fear that they might be suspected as terrorists because the government armed forces are tracking down members of the ISIS or Abu Sayyaf, but I told them that they need not be fear because they came here in peace, not war”.
He added that they, too, are victims of the “wars” in Mindanao and they came here to have a new peaceful life . “They are traders and they want to do business in Baguio and in Benguet ,“ Torres explained.
Torres said that most Muslims in the city are traders and religious groups and, in fact, they have a school in Crystal Cave for young Muslim to study the Koran. Aside from this, they also have informative articles published in a local weekly newspaper enlightening non-Muslim about their life and culture.
In a forum held recently with local officials and the police here, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Director Abdullah Macarimpas stressed they (Muslims) want peace and harmony. “We love Baguio, we are here to live and do business,” he said.
Macarimpas emphasized that Muslims are peace-loving citizens and they co-exist harmoniously with all peoples in the country.
With theme, “Muslim on Peace and Harmony”, the forum was organized to shed light on misleading issues associating Muslims with drugs and terrorism and to stop those from condemning them as terrorists, according to forum organizer Samsodin Monib.
For his part, Mayor Maurico Domogan called on the Muslims in the city to stop their practice of segregating and isolating themselves from the population and instead to actively participate in affairs of the city.
‘Whatever tribe you or religious affiliation you belong to and you are a resident of the city, each and everyone is treated the same, no special persons,’ Domogan said.
Congressman Mark Go said that all the opportunities are in city, but everyone’s cooperation is needed to maintain peace and order.
“Business will fall without peace and order and if we don’t do the right thing today, we will lose all opportunities. Let us think of improving ourselves and applying highest ethical standards. Help make everyone successful and share it to everyone. We are all Filipinos here, religion should not divide us,” Go added.
Police Chief Superintendent Ramil Saculles said that the police share a singular objective with the Muslim community, that is. “we do not like trouble”.
“This is our city, we have to protect it and as stewards, you also have much more concern in promoting peace and security”, he added.
Based on a 2010 survey, there are at least 4,000 Muslims in Baguio City. Thom Picana/Northbound Philippines News