Nation


MILF, Muslim scholars to meet with Pope on Sunday




Posted on January 17, 2015


AN ISLAMIST group that struck a peace agreement with the Philippine government has sent a delegation to meet with Pope Francis, who is in the country, to discuss religion and other related issues on Sunday.

On Friday, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) sent a delegation led by Abu Hurraira Udasan, Grand Mufti of the Philippines, and other Muslim scholars, the group’s spokesperson Ghadzali Jafaar said.

“Religious issues will most likely be the topic of concern... But there is really no set agenda on what will be discussed but we are glad that this meeting will happen,” Mr. Jafaar told BusinessWorld in a phone interview.

Grand Muftis are the highest official of Islamic law who can issue fatwas, or a religious opinion, in the interpretation of the Koran.

Mr. Jafaar said that Grand Mufti Udasan will be accompanied by at least three more Muslim scholars when he meets with the Catholic leader on Sunday, sometime before or after the publicly held mass to be conducted by Pope Francis at the Quirino Grandstand in the Luneta area.

On Friday, Pope Francis had a private lunch with other religious leaders at the Apostolic Nunciature, which serves as his official residence while in Manila.

Mr. Jafaar said that the meeting was supposed to take place day but said that due to constraints in the Pope’s schedule, the meeting had to be postponed to Sunday.

The MILF official, however, refused to comment if the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be discussed during the meet and if they will seek for support in its passage in Congress.

The BBL is under deliberation in both chambers of the Philippine Congress, with its passage and enactment into law eyed sometime this year by its proponents.

Detainees write letters to Pope Francis for their release

In Tagum City, political detainees in the Davao Region are joining their fellow detainees in other parts of the country in the appeal for their release through letters addressed to the pontiff.

There are 35 documented political prisoners in various provinces within the region based on records of the group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region.

The detainees are also staging a hunger strike from the Pope’s arrival last January 15 to his departure on the 19th as part of their appeal for intervention in their cases.

Among those listed as a political detainee is Dominiciano D. Muya, a staff and agriculturist of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, who was allegedly arrested illegally in October last year here in Tagum city.

In his letter, Mr. Muya said his “detention and the slow pace of justice proceedings in our country” are violations of his human rights.

“(Mr.) Muya is just one of the 491 political prisoners in the country who actively worked in different people’s organization to fill in for the government’s failure to provide basic social services to Filipinos,” said Hanimay I. Suazo of Karapatan-SMR.

Meanwhile, Fe Salino, secretary general of Samahan ng mga Ex-detainee Laban sa Detention-SMR (SELDA), is hopeful that Pope Francis will see “the real situation of human rights in the country” during his visit. -- Alden M. Monzon, Maya M. Padillo, Correspondent