From the Manila Times (Feb 28): Muslim clerics seek peace-building role for Bangsamoro
MARAWI CITY: Groups of ulama (Muslim clerics) here in the south conducted public consultations across Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) seeking the creation of Darul Ifta (Islamic House of Opinion) for ARMM that would play a vital role on peace building.
“We are raising many issues about Muslims in Mindanao, but we never heard about the side of Ulama,” Saad Amate, one of the organizers of Ulama consultations on institutionalization of Regional Darul Ifta for ARMM (RDI-ARMM) that convened first in this city on February 8 and followed up in Zamboanga city on February 16 to 17, told The Manila Times.
Amate said the event was attended by ARMM officials and groups of ulama from different Muslim institutions including armed groups Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and “unanimously” expressed their need over the creation of the RDI-ARMM.
Ulama groups include Muslim Mindanao Ulama Council, Jamio Muslim Mindanao, Jamiyatul Waqf, Kamilul Islam, Jamiatu Marawi Islamic Foundation, Jamio Mindanao Islamic Center, Jama’ah Tablig, and other groups including two giant armed groups MNLF and MILF. Among representatives of the groups are mufti, Amate said.
Mufti is a Muslim cleric leader and issuer of fatwa (Islamic legal pronouncement), which is being followed by their members.
“It is very disturbing to have many mufti, sometimes we do not know whom we will follow,” local folk said in vernacular here.
RDI-ARMM aims to unite and unify ulama from various groups in ARMM under one umbrella institution for them to be in charge of Muslim affairs in ARMM and be involved in the social services, said Department of Education (DepEd) of ARMM for Madaris Undersecretary Alzad Sattar.
Darul Ifta was established largely for spiritual and ritual activities such as khutba (giving sermon), attending funerals, conducting wedding ceremonies, leading of daa (prayers) and gracing kanduri (thanksgiving), but has no greater participation in policymaking and governance since the creation of the ARMM.
Sattar, who attended the event, said “this is now the opportune time for the ulama to play an active role in transforming the society and combat the social menace affecting the community.”
“The time has come for the ulama to think out of the box. Their significant role on moral transformation, peace building, good governance, and socio-economic development should not be undermined,” he said.
During the convergence, the ulama have come up with seven resolutions that to be submitted to the concerned agencies or individuals for appropriate actions.
“A covenant was also signed by the ulama reiterating their commitment and support to the peace processes between the GRP-MNLF and the MILF-GPH respectively,” Sattar said.
One of the resolutions is “urging the Organization of Islamic Coordination (OIC) to immediately convene the Bangsamoro Coordinating Council between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for unity and solidarity among Bangsamoro for peace and development in the Bangsamoro homeland,” Sattar said.
Another resolution is “urging OIC through Peace Council for Southern Philippines, Government of the Republic of the Philippines, MNLF and MILF to convene as quadripartite meeting for unity and solidarity among Bangsamoro.
In the said statement, the group expressed its deep concern and anxiety at Sunday’s arrest of Commander Tundok, based on an alleged standing warrant of arrest for arson and multiple murder charges. This potential flashpoint, following just a week after the shooting to death of MILF Commander Yusoph Kusain, and again the arrest made on Commander Tundok, reflects an apparent gap between top-level pronouncements of both the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and their troops and ceasefire coordinating mechanisms on the ground, the statement said further.
The civil society group said in its statement that it feels that the proverbial reason of “just following orders” made by officers and men of the CIDG executing the warrant, should be further informed and tempered by the direction and temperament of forbearance that is being made manifested at the highest level of the peace process. We take note of President Aquino’s December 9 statement at a Malacanang Press Corps briefing, stating:
“This is not going to be simple because here we would have to demonstrate our full trust in each other.”
“We feel that this sentiment should be translated into action by all forces, and permeate all actions by either side, particularly now that the Bangsamoro peace process nears its final stretch. We appeal to both sides to temper their actions and responses with utmost restraint, and allow the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to stand and make its case before the country without distraction or provocation”, the group said in its issued statement.
It went further saying, “Let the BBL be judged for its own merits, with the world as its witness. We encourage both sides to engage more fully not only the letter, but more particularly the spirit of peace negotiations and peace-building, which millions of us in Mindanao continue to yearn and work for”.
Finally, the group said, “The MPW appeals for the release of Commander Tundok, as this will improve confidence-building even as the government and the MILF peace panels are talking transitional justice in the peace talks. This paramount effort requires our collective forbearance, our common acceptance and ultimate singular belief that the process we are engaged and invested in will work, given its one true chance. To this end we again reiterate that the guns in Mindanao have held sway for too long, let our generation now instead listen to a just peace”.