Project Launch of the Comprehensive Approach to Preventing Violent Extremism in Southern Philippines:
A Reformation Program for Former Extremists
Message of Ambassador Steven J Robinson AO
24 June 2019, Isabela City, Basilan
Good morning. I’d like to acknowledge Secretary Galvez, Governor Hataman-Salliman, and Brigadier General Centino, Brigadier General Reyeg, Brigadier General Ponio – thank you very much for the opportunity to attend this historic event.
Australia has been a long-term supporter of the peace process and development in Mindanao, and we are committed to continuing to do so. This is my first trip to Basilan. It is exciting to be here for the launch of such an important program, so fundamental to the future of peace in the Bangsamoro.
I know that we would not be here today without the concerted efforts of many of you to encourage these men to turn away from ASG. This is an outstanding accomplishment, and we should think about how to sustain this success in the future. I’d also like to address those of you who have left the Abu Sayyaf Group and have joined us today.
· You are essential to the future of peace in this region and your participation in this program shows that there is hope for the future of the Bangsamoro and Basilan.
· Turning away from a powerful force such as violent extremism takes a lot of courage, and I applaud you for taking this great step.
The program that you are all part of today, aligns heavily with Australia’s own priorities in preventing violent extremism not only in the Southern Philippines, but also across Southeast Asia.
We believe fervently that it is important to work with our partners to continue the drivers against violent extremism, engaging early with affected communities, and challenging terrorist propaganda and recruitment.
Radicalisation, violent extremism, and the recruitment of the vulnerable cut across boundaries and jurisdictions; so collaboration, working together, as Secretary Galvez said this morning, is such a critical part of our strategy.
Your work with communities and the people who want to return to civilian life in Basilan have provided useful lessons that can be applied in other areas affected by conflict, radicalisation and violent extremism.
It’s pleasing as well that this project implemented by the Balay Mindanaw Foundation, and I would particularly like to acknowledge the President and CEO, Charlito Manlupig who is here today. This is a collaborative effort with Balay Mindanaw with the regional and provincial governments, as part of larger peacebuilding work in Muslim Mindanao.
It is truly a remarkable. It’s a remarkable time for the people of Bangsamoro and Australia. Australia will be here to continue support your work for a strong and peaceful BARMM. It is my great pleasure to make that commitment to you.
Thank you very much and good day to everyone.