BULUAN, Maguindanao—Most of the province’s workplaces and schools are shared by Muslims and Christians, showing a healthy pluralist community that withstands challenges of religious intolerance and extremism.
Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said Maguindanao has the best examples to show peace and stability in multi-cultural coexistence among indigenous people’s tribes, Maguindanaon Muslims, the resident Chinese traders, and the old Christian settlers.
Mangudadatu said some quarters were thinking of staging a “unity roadshow” to intensify peace amidst religious diversity, in the face of a reportedly swarming terror threat from a breakaway armed Moro group.
While state security forces jointly repel extremists with the help of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the governor said the people should be ready with “sustainable social dialogue” to preserve a pluralist community from militants, who tend to divide the people in the name of religions.
Mangudadatu, a Maguindanaon Muslim, said the offices of the Provincial Capitol alone are a workplace shared fairly by Christians and Muslims, occupying both supervisory and subordinate levels, depending on qualification standards prescribed by the Civil Service Commission.
Maguindanao Assemblyman Khadafeh Mangudadatu, the governor’s younger brother, said they had also attended schools where a small number of Muslim students blended well with their Christian schoolmates in Davao City.
The same can be said of schools and offices in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where 99 percent of the youth are effectively kept off the influence of extremism, according to ARMM executive secretary Laisa Alamia.
In Basilan, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman and his brother, Basilan Gov. Hajiman Salliman, said they are developing a “Pagtarbiyahan,” a formation center designed along the learning and cultural experience of the Yakan, Sama and Taosug, to protect the local youth from foreign influence being advanced by extremists’ peaching.
Curiously, the militants in Marawi first targeted the Dansalan College, a secular Christian school, which is said to be a “distinct institutional host” to peaceful coexistence of Maranao Muslim natives and Christian residents.
Residents said the experience of pluralism in Maguindanao is different from that of Marawi, where the place of coexistence is mainly confined to one place. In Maguindanao, Muslims and non-Muslims work together in many parts of the province.
The Mangudadatus said the leadership of Maguindanao protects the rights of its citizens without much distinction as to whether they are Maguindanaon, Visayan, Ilocano, Chinese or IPs.