Manila Muslims Get New Cemetery

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http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2005-12/19/article02.shtml

 

People praying during the groundbreaking of the second Islamic Cemetery in Metro Manila.

By Rexcel Sorza, IOL Correspondent

MANILA, December 19, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – After contending themselves for years with an over-congested cemetery, the thousands of Muslims living in the Philippine capital will soon have a new four-hectare cemetery.

"This is a great help to the Moro people who migrated to Manila as this project concretely addresses one of their most practical problems," Cocoy Tulawie, vice president of the Suara Bangsamoro political party, the project facilitator, told IslamOnline.net on Monday, December 19.

The "Islamic Cemetery for Muslims in Metro Manila" will soon be developed in Rodriguez town in Rizal province adjoining Manila to serve more than 100,000 Filipino Muslims living in the capital.

"Moros would usually have a hard time getting burial permits and getting buried in other public cemeteries," Benjie Maulana, a Maranao who migrated to Rodriguez Rizal five years ago, told IOL.

"We felt deprived and humiliated".

The Philippines, a largely Christian state, has an estimated Muslim minority of eight million or ten percent of the population.

Funding

The project, officially launched on December 13, is funded by Bayan Muna (Nation First) political party.

It has an initial development cost of two million pesos (P54=US$1).

Rep. Joel Virador, of Bayan Muna, said that an additional 15 million pesos have been contributed by the Committee of Muslim Affairs of the House of Representatives, Bayan Muna Party list and the Office of Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte for the development of the cemetery.

The town government of Rodriguez has donated the four-hectare complex. Another 10 hectares is being set aside for future expansion.

More Services

For years, Muslims, particularly those living in Manila, used to bury their dead in the overcrowded cemetery in the Muslim enclave in Taguig City.

Those who can afford have turned to upscale private cemeteries but these were unaffordable to ordinary Filipino Muslims.

Others have to transport their relatives back to the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, the birthplace of Islam in the country.

"In light of the war critical situation of Sulu and other parts of Mindanao, this is an overwhelming news," Tulawie said.

He thanked public servants like Mayor Ping Cuerpo "who understands the unique needs of the Moro people in his jurisdiction".

Tulawie noted, however, that more basic facilities and agencies that would address the needs of the Moro people are needed as the number of Muslims in Manila continues to increase due to several factors, including the forcible displacement by war and poverty in war-torn Mindanao.

The Philippine government has recently agreed, in principle, to allow Muslims in the south to draft their own constitution, impose their own tax system as well as form and maintain legal and financial institutions.

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) still have to thrash out an agreement on ancestral domain, which covers the territory and resources on the mineral-wealthy island.

MILF has been pressing for the independence of Muslim-majority areas in the south.

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