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Jihad at Our Doorstep?
19 November 2009. Muslim men and demolition crew were throwing stones at each other. Pasay police were firing guns. Children, women, and elderly were running and no safe place to go. These were the scenes yesterday in the Rajah Sulayman Lumba Ranao Grand Mosque along Roxas Blvd. , Pasay City, during the execution of demolition of shanties surrounding the mosque.
Abdelmanan Tanandato, president of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Nademolis sa Roxas Boulevard was teary eyed when he found out that three of his people died including a young boy. But he was composed adding, “That there is nothing to worry about. The dead men are already in paradise with Allah because they were killed in jihad defending the holy mosque.”
Task Force Anti-Eviction (TFAE) composed of various people’s organizations and NGOs such as the Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), and the Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise Foundation (COPE) said that they had warned the government that blood will flow on the disputed land if they will pursue the demolition. But the government turned deaf ears.
Now, that they had tried forcible eviction which resulted in death, the TFAE is wondering what will happen to our Muslim brothers and sisters. They also wonder whether the police involved will be questioned about their activity? The group says there is already too much violence in the evictions done in Manila .
Tanandato and the entire Muslim community will file criminal charges against the Pasay police. They will also question the notice to vacate dated August 11, 2009 from Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 274, as not valid to carry out the eviction. The order was not implemented on August thus, another 30-day notice is necessary.
“We were just informed by some friends that we must prepare because the demolition would be executed anytime in the month. Our only weapons against the eight hundred man demolition team were stones and slings. We barricaded the mosque but when the police fire their guns and shot our men, our group weakened,” he added.
Amir Saripada, one who fought the police, said, “Kami ay isa sa mga milyon-milyong Pilipino pero hindi nila kami tinatrato ng tama. Iniisip ko na nga lang bumalik sa Mindanao para maging sakit na ng lipunan.” (We are one of the million Filipinos but we are not treated right. I am thinking of going back to Mindanao to become the enemy of society.)
The public officials who were present yesterday said that they will not demolish the mosque until a new mosque is constructed on a 500 square meter property in Parañaque. This refers to the memorandum issued by Secretary Eduardo Ermita on 26th of May this year to Philippine Reclamation Authority Manager Andrea Domingo, Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza, and Office of Muslim Affairs Executive Director Ali Sangki informing them of President’s instruction to relocate the entire mosque to a proposed relocation site adjacent to the Coastal Road . The memorandum said the reclaimed land on which the mosque stands must be cleared to give way to Southwest Public Transport Intermodal Center (Metrotrans).
However, UPA’s Research team, found out that the Lot No. 5155 in Parañaque where the new mosque will be built has a private claimant in the name of Bernardo De Leon. The case is still pending in the Supreme Court.
Ted Añana, Deputy Coordinator of UPA said, “This is the third time that violent eviction took place in that reclaimed land. Still, the government has no acceptable relocation site for the residents and the place for new mosque is dubious.”
“We cannot blame the Muslims in their resistance,” Añana added. “For them, it is a sacred place and defending the mosque up to their last breath is superior in the eyes of Allah. We are reiterating again to the government to let the mosque stay and make it a symbol of Muslim and Christian understanding.”