Muslims fight to keep mosque in Philippines

Leaders of around 800 Muslim families living in the reclamation area in Baclaran, Pasay City, appealed to President Arroyo Tuesday to save their homes, and particularly their mosque, from demolition or they will be forced to fight back.

Muslims fight to keep mosque in Philippines
Leaders of around 800 Muslim families living in the reclamation area in Baclaran, Pasay City, appealed to President Arroyo Tuesday to save their homes, and particularly their mosque, from demolition or they will be forced to fight back.

"Violence will be inevitable," said Lanao sultan Firdausi Ismail Yahya Abbas, who serves as the Muslim residents’ lawyer, if the plan to demolish the houses and the mosque pushes through.

The residents panicked after a demolition team, reportedly sent by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), threatened them with eviction Monday. Military personnel were also reportedly sent there to warn the residents.

Abbas said it is possible for residents to voluntarily leave the area if concerned government officials agree not to destroy the mosque.

"The people are willing to be relocated but the mosque must stay there. We will rather die than see the mosque destroyed," Abbas said in a news briefing in Pasay City.

He also said "the Muslim families have been in the area for nine years already. It is a violation of the Constitution if they are evicted and no proper relocation site awaits them."

Abbas added that the PRA, which has plans of converting the area into a commercial center, is not authorized to conduct clearing operations there.

Meanwhile, Director Amoran Andaga of the Office of the President-External Affairs said the affected residents have already sent Mrs. Arroyo a letter asking the government not to proceed with the demolition.

"However, if the demolition activity can’t be prevented, the Muslim families are asking that they be compensated properly and for the mosque not to be destroyed," Andaga said.

The residents are asking for a compensation of P100,000 to P120,000 for every structure that will be knocked down.

The Office on Muslim Affairs (OMA) also sent Mrs. Arroyo a memorandum requesting presidential action on the deferment of the demolition.

"Considering our warm relations with the Organization of Islamic Conference, this office would like to recommend the deferment by the PRA’s action plan on the mosque," OMA executive director Undersecretary Sultan Yahya Jerry Tomawis said.

The OMA earlier held a meeting with Saudi Ambassador Mohammed Ameen Wali concerning the PRA’s alleged plan to demolish the mosque, located at the Roxas Boulevard reclamation area in Pasay City.
Last Mod: 06 Haziran 2007, 18:41
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