DAGUPAN CITY – Mayor Belen T. Fernandez congratulated President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for the liberation of Marawi City following the killing of terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute when she addressed the Muslim community during the Peace Forum conducted by the National Commission on Muslim Affairs in cooperation with the Pangasinan Integrated Muslim Assembly at the Abong na Alumni on October 18.

“I have always believed that peace will always be possible. Regardless of whatever strains that we went through in the past, history will be the better judged that when people are confronted with issues that may bring us to war or conflict that would result to violence or hostilities, we have the power of choice to see that whatever issue that may divide us, there will be more reasons for us to come together in peace and in positive engagement,” said Fernandez.

Region 1 has at least 71,263 Muslim residents and Dagupan have many of them either as dedicated professionals, traders, students and ordinary workers.

“Our Muslim brothers have been with us for as long as we remember and they are integral to the overall success of our city as an urban economy even before we were still starting as a city back in 1947,” disclosed Fernandez.


Dagupan is a highly mixed society because of its nature as an educational, banking, health, trade, commercial, telecommunications and agro-industrial hub. It is a blended society of non-ecumenical faiths, she said.

“It is therefore this diversity of beliefs that makes this forum an ideal platform to promote the notion, the concept and the pursuit of peace that is beneficial to all,” said Fernandez.

Fernandez recalled that when she was still the vice-mayor she worked for the construction of two-classrooms at the West Central 1 Elementary School to accommodate Muslim students.

“Muslim children have a special place in our hearts so we worked hard for the construction of these classrooms,” said Fernandez.

With the creation of the three growth centers in the city Fernandez expressed hope that these children will be among the beneficiaries of the employment benefits it may bring to the city.

The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos was created by virtue of Republic Act 9997 in 2010, which gives importance of the active participation of the Muslim Filipinos in nation building with due regard for their beliefs, customs, traditions, institutions and aspirations.

The peace forum’s theme is “Fighting Violent Extremist Ideology and Terrorism towards a Peaceful, Productive and Muslim Communities viz-a-viz Peaceful Coexistence”. (Joseph C. Bacani/CIO/Oct. 19, 2017)