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Calls for peace spread through ARMM as folks celebrate Eid feast

 • 02:41 AM Sat Jul 18, 2015
John Unson
Muslim women wait for the start of Friday morning’s Eid’l Fit’r congregational prayer inside the 32-hectare compound of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in Cotabato City. JOHN UNSON

COTABATO CITY --- Appeals for public support to the southern peace process on Friday morning echoed through open fields in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao where folks performed Eid’l Fit’r congregational prayers.The Eid’l Fitr, an important religious event in Islam, marks the culmination of the Ramadan fasting season, where Muslims fast from dawn to dusk for one lunar cycle, about 28 to 29 days, as a religious obligation.Muslim politicians and peace activists joined clerics in urging local folks to help push the Mindanao peace process forward.ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said the initiative aims to put closure to decades of secessionist strife in the ARMM and nearby towns in Regions 9, 10 and 12.The ARMM covers the predominantly Muslim Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in Central Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, known hotbeds of secessionist movements since the late 1960s.In his Eid message, Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, concurrent archbishop of Cotabato, called on non-Muslims to shun political religious prejudices against Muslims to sustain the gains of the Mindanao peace process.Quevedo, speaking over Catholic station dxMS in Cotabato City Friday morning, said so much historical injustices have been done against Muslims in Mindanao by outsiders.The cardinal said there is a need now for a healing process,” involving Muslims and non-Muslims, to hasten the attainment of peace and development in the country’s south.Hataman called on his constituents to support all peaceful means of addressing the southern secessionist rebellion, one of the major causes of poverty and underdevelopment in ARMM’s far-flung areas.Hataman said he is thankful to local leaders in the region’s more than 100 towns for helping his administration implement close to P10 billion worth of infrastructure projects from 2012 to early 2015. We have more on-going projects for 2015. More expensive infrastructure projects that we aim to fully implement by yearend as part of our effort to expedite the economic growth of ARMM in support of the Mindanao peace process,” he said.Thousands performed Friday’s early morning Eid congregational prayer at the parade ground of the ARMM compound southwest of Cotabato City.Worshipers listened attentively to clerics preach about the importance of reconciliation and co-existence among Muslims and non-Muslims as espoused by Mohammad, Islam’s progenitor.So important is Ramadan for Muslims. They believe it was during the month of Ramadan, in the lunar-based hijrah calendar, that Allah sent down from heaven Archangel Jibrael (Gabriel) to announce to Mohammad that he had been chosen to spread Islam.For Muslims, Islam, which literally means peace, is both a religion and a way of life.Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, which include absolute belief in Allah, praying five times a day facing west, giving of zakat (alms) to the poor and, for those who have money, a trip to Makkah, Saudi Arabia, to perform the hajj at least one in a lifetime.Muslims focus on acts of piety and reparation for wrongdoings as they observe the Ramadan.Three days before the Eid, adversarial leaders in Basilan gathered for a solidarity iftar, an event something so new in the history of a war-torn province with many bloody chapters and lengthy depictions of poverty and underdevelopment.Iftar is Arabic for first meal after a day-long abstention from food and drinks by Muslims observing the month-long Ramadan fasting season.Among the guests to the solidarity iftar, hosted by Hataman in a seaside resort south of Basilan, were erstwhile enemies Gov. Jum Akbar and former House Deputy Speaker Gerry Salapuddin and dozens of other local officials that figured in deep-seated rivalries during past electoral exercises.Hataman on Thursday said the iftar he tendered for his constituent-leaders in Basilan was solely for fellowship and propagation of culture of peace,” totally free from political undercurrents.Christian local officials, led by Vice-Mayor Roderick Furigay of Lamitan City, Basilan’s capital, were also present in the gathering.Furigay even mingled with his constituent-Muslim leaders that junked his bid for the city’s vice-mayoral post during the May 13, 2013 local polls.All of Basilan’s 11 town mayors and their vice-mayors attended the iftar Hataman hosted.The event was also graced by Yakan members of Hataman’s cabinet, among them Hanie Bud and Juni Ilimin, regional ports manager and local government undersecretary, respectively.

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