PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte has asked the Commission on Audit (CoA) to “reconsider” its decision questioning the use of Marawi rehabilitation funds by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) to sponsor the Hajj trip of some displaced residents of the war-torn city.
In his speech during the 2019 Eid’l Fitr Celebration in Davao City on Thursday night, Mr. Duterte said: “So I am asking CoA to reconsider. Ano ba naman ‘yang (What is) 5 million [pesos]? Actually that P5 million is worth billions in terms of your kind, I said generosity, to finance the poor people na (who are) Muslim para makapag-Hajj.”
He added that he himself does not have that amount should the CoA ask for a reimbursement and he would just have to go to jail.
“Over the years, it’s not a financing of a religious journey. Do not take it in that sense, that there is a separation of Church and State. Take it as a pacification campaign for, after all, natives man tayo dito (we are all natives here) and we were subjugated,” Mr. Duterte said.
In a statement on Friday, HUDCC Chairman Eduardo D. del Rosario said: “I am very grateful for the President’s expression of full support to TFBM’s (Task Force Bangon Marawi) sponsorship of 27 IDPs (internally displaced persons) to Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. This bespeaks well of the President’s deep understanding of the Islamic culture and its implications.”
“The President’s sterling leadership truly inspires and drives us to bring about more positive changes in public service,” he also said.
Mr. Duterte, in his speech, also vowed to “preserve the fragile peace” in Mindanao.
“Allow me to take this moment to assure you that this administration will endeavor to preserve the fragile peace that we have built in this region that I call home,” said the country’s first President to come from the southern islands.
“Allow me to take this moment to assure you that through the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, we will consistently uphold the rights and welfare of all Muslim Filipinos and, for that matter, for all Filipinos.” – Arjay L. Balinbin