MANILA: Hijab-clad female soldiers are to be deployed throughout the Philippines as part of a major counterterrorism initiative.
The so-called “hijab troopers” will provide vital support to communities traumatized by war. Their placement in key areas across the country follows the success of their deployment during the Marawi siege last year, when Daesh-inspired local terrorists seized the city.
Army Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. said the troopers have been trained in preventing and countering violent extremism.
“Because of their success in Marawi, it’s believed that they’ll also be effective in other places,” he told Arab News. “They’ll provide cultural and psychosocial services in urban communities.” This will help in maintaining order and security in cities, he added.
As well as Marawi, the female troopers will also move into other areas, including the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela, and the village of Maharlika.
Last week, the Philippine Army held a special ceremony during which the contribution of the “hijab troopers” to the ongoing rehabilitation of Marawi was recognized.
Members of the army unit, comprising four officers and 56 enlisted personnel, were awarded the Military Merit Medal for their services in Marawi in 2017.
Their main involvement was providing support to the local government and other agencies in helping those displaced by the five months of fighting between government forces and the Maute terror group. They were specifically focused on peace education and assisting in psychosocial debriefing, especially among children and young people traumatized by the war.
The deployment of the female soldiers wearing hijabs was concentrated in areas where the majority of the population practice Islam.
Diosita Andot, undersecretary of the office of the presidential adviser on the peace process in the Philippines, told the women at the awards ceremony: “As women in uniform, you are already in the task of peacekeeping. But I know that with the job you are doing in the IDP (internationally displaced persons) camps, you can also do peacemaking and peacebuilding as well.”
Source: Arab News