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Demolition of Mosque to Spark Bloodshed
31 July 2009. “Blood will flow if the government will pursue the demolition of the mosque. Hundreds of Muslim men and women living outside the mosque will fight the demolition team. They are not afraid to die to preserve the sacred mosque.”
These are the words of Abdelmanan Tanandato. He is the leader of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Nademolis sa Roxas Boulevard. Their mosque and community are on the reclaimed land in Pasay City opposite Baclaran Church.
According to Tanandato, the mosque on the reclaimed land in Manila Bay is the third biggest mosque in Metro Manila. He remembers that the land for the mosque was part of the sea. It took them three years in landfilling/ reclaiming to produce the 3 hectares to build the mosque. He is sad that the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) is now claiming the land and that the court allows PRA to have full possession of the lot for commerce, luxury housing and casinos.
On 26th of May 2009, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita issued a memorandum, saying that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo instructs government agencies to relocate the mosque.
Issuance of the memorandum alarms the community because they know there will be attempts to demolish the mosque and evict them forcefully. Earlier in 2007, PRA violently demolished their dwellings rendering the elderly, women, and children homeless. In June 2008, another government demolition team came but hundreds of Muslims faced them armed with wooden clubs ready to fight the demolition team to protect their homes and mosque. The demolition was not executed.
Tanandato was informed that there will be demolition the first week of August.
Task Force Anti-Eviction composed of various people’s organizations and NGOs such as Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise Foundation (COPE) is now helping the community to prevent the violent demolition.
“If the government proceeds with the demolition and eviction, the people will resist—violently most likely. Some may be killed. The mosque will be destroyed-- a sight that has a good chance of appearing in every newspaper in the world,” said Denis Murphy, Executive Director of the UPA. He added that, “the people will also write President Barack Obama if the government persists to execute the demolition of the mosque.”
Atty. Bienvenido Salinas II, legal counsel of UPA and Cong. Leandro Q. Montemayor are drafting a letter of inquiry addressed to Andrea Domingo, General Manager of PRA. In the letter, they reiterate the request to defer the demolition of the Muslim community and defer the plan to relocate the sacred mosque, especially in the light of the pending cases and demolition moratorium ordinance in Pasay City.
Meanwhile, Tanandato is seeking the help of Commission on Human Rights, Congressmen, Senators and the Church to secure and arrive at peaceful and amicable solution to the problem.