Posted on 2017/06/06

In recent years, the world has experienced some of the worst man-made tragedy: the attack of World Trade Center in New York, the bombing in London, Bali, Madrid, Beslan in Russia, and other similar horrific incidents. Notably, these and other tragedies have one thing in common – justified by perpetrators as religious injunction, a ‘holy war’ waged against the oppressors and disbelievers. Since then, the words ‘extremism,’ ‘terrorism,’ ‘islamophobia,’ ‘xenophobia,’ and other related terms signifying radical movement through the use of force and violence have become the focus of limelight especially among security experts and politicians. Unfortunately, the line of debates among them seems to suggest that a particular religion is behind all of these attacks, and that this religion breeds hate, inculcates culture of violence, and advocates for world domination. Although these are but hasty generalizations and a product of erroneous perception, there seems to be an acceptance of this idea among many especially in the West.

In the Philippine context, this idea has been well recognized even before the said events took place. In the past the ‘Moros,’ Islamized ethnic groups in Mindanao, were perceived as barbaric and uncivilized savages despite overwhelming evidence that they have one of the most well-recognized and well-documented thriving civilizations in history. In fact, their rich culture and tradition can attest to this. This erroneous perception, however, is still vibrant even to this age of unrestricted information. The alarming surge of recruitment to armed groups in Mindanao whose orientation is derived from fundamentalist ideology reinforces strong belief that a particular religion is behind the radicalization around the world. However, the author believes otherwise. The author would like to emphasize, on behalf of peace loving Muslims in the world, that Islam is a religion of peace and anything committed in the name of it which transgresses and violates the rights of innocent civilians, Muslims and Non-Muslims alike, is nothing but a plain crime and is unequivocally unIslamic.

Extremism has been defined as the “belief in and support for ideas that are very far from what most people consider correct or reasonable.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2016). Psychologists have long recognized and have scientifically proved that certain external factors greatly affect the orientation of an individual. Social scientists also share the same view that some features in the environment of a social being influence his way of thinking. For this reason, it is but incumbent for the author to enumerate some of the factors which, for him, greatly contribute to radicalization of people in Mindanao. Despite its flourishing economy, the country’s poverty incidents are still very high. Polls show most of the poorest provinces are in Mindanao; these areas are also conflict-affected. With limited opportunities, most people resort to engage in unlawful activities, which include: smuggling of goods, firearms, and illicit drugs. As a result, the number of victims of extra-judicial killings have spiked and peace and order has deteriorated.

Of equal significance is the problem on education. The number of drop-outs and out of school youths is very high in poverty-stricken areas. Data show that children of school age tend to stop attending school in order to help their family. This is common in rural areas where the primary sources of livelihood are farming and fishing. Thus, only a few reach tertiary education, and those who make it have no guarantee that they all will graduate. The lack of education is a major reason why radicalization continues to gain adherents. Lastly, we cannot discount the influence of media in society. The reach of traditional and social media outfits even to the far corners of the country is unprecedented. People learn events from other places in real time. Sad to say, the portrayal of media on extremism is confined only to a particular group of people who believe that religion as their way of life.

In sum, the author believes that extremism is an offshoot of entrenched poverty. Instead of blaming religion, the government should develop a holistic approach to stem the root cause of problem beyond law enforcement. To reiterate, Islam is a religion of peace. It does not sanction the use of force against innocent civilians nor perpetuate terrorism against those who may have opposed the tenets of religion. The truth is: extremism is driven by self-preservation, the idea that in order to survive, one must be tough even if it means encroaching upon the rights of others.


Is an Non-Government Organization Catering Youth Services


Liceo Legal Aid Center (LiLAC) doing business under the name and style of Center for Alternative Lawyering of Liceo is the legal aid center of Liceo de Cagayan University, a privately owned university based in Cagayan de oro City. The group is composed of law students, alumni of the College of Law of the University, and lawyers who are passionate in the practice of alternative lawyering. LiLAC is guided by its vision of a holistic formation of law students committed to the transformation of society by promoting justice, empowerment, unity and peace, through helping the marginalized sector of the depressed areas here in Mindanao, in the Philippines and in the world. While the group was registered only this year with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it has been providing services to marginalized communities in partnership with NGOs for more than 8 years now. LiLAC has more than 50 members, 15 of whom are taking the active role of running the groups activities.

twitter: twitter.com/liceolegalaid
facebook: fb.com/liceolegalaidrn


The Mindanao State University Legal Aid Clinic or Mindanao SULAC for brevity, is the Legal Aid Clinic of Mindanao State University College of law. It is the first and currently the only one of its kind to be established in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It strives to cater the legal needs of the underprivileged and/or indigent clients of the Region and to help promote the proper administration of justice as a key to lasting peace in the region and in the country as a whole.

Office Address: 1F MSU College of Law Bldg.,
MSU Main Campus, Marawi City 9700 Philippines
Contact details:
Email: mindanaosulac@gmail.com
Mobile No.: (+63) 907 336 7762



The Notre Dame university is a Catholic Institution in Cotabato City run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and member of the Notre Dame Educational Association Philippines.The Notre Dame University Legal Aid Center started sometime in 2009. Its members are the officially enrolled students of NDU-College of Law.

The following are the official pages and e-mail address of the group:
FB: fb.com/ndulac
twitter: twitter.com/ndulac
Instagram: instagram.com/ndulac
email: ndulac@gmail.com


The Palawan Cradle of Rights is a unified composition of law students from Palawan State university school of Law, established last August 26, 2013 after the culminating activity of the Basic Orientation Seminar by the US Embassy in partnership with the MYVC.

Through our linkages and with the help of the different Government and Non-government organizations we aim to provide free access to people who need legal assistance.


The University of Mindanao Legal Aid Network (ULAN) is a non-stock, non-profit, and service institution of the University of Mindanao. As a service institution, it provides legal assistance, advocates human rights and social justice, and facilitates the formation of law students for alternative lawyering. It consists of law students and alumni of the College of Legal Education of the University of Mindanao committed to provide an adequate and greater access to justice of the community through its programs.


The CENTRO ADVOCACIA LEGAL is organized exclusively for charitable, socio-cultural and educational purposes, more specifically to serve the needs of the marginalized communities specifically children and youth and the minorities in Zamboanga City through Legal Aid Assistance and Human Rights Based Advocacies.