MANILA, Philippines—A Muslim religious leader in Marawi City has withdrawn the “fatwa” he issued against Sen. Chiz Escudero after the reelectionist senator gave an assurance that he is not “anti-Muslim.”
According to Escudero, Jamil Yahya, chairman of the Bangsamoro Supreme Council of Ulama (BSCU) and grand imam of the Mindanao grand mosque in the city, has now endorsed his candidacy after the senator explained that he was supportive of peace initiatives in the south.
Escudero’s office defined fatwa as an “Islamic legal pronouncement” by a Muslim religious leader.
Yahya is reported to have issued a fatwa urging Muslims in the country not to support Escudero’s reelection bid.
The fatwa reportedly stemmed from Escudero’s criticism of the meeting in Japan last year between President Aquino and the chairman of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Murad Ebrahim, concerning the proposed creation of a Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.
“After listening to his explanation, I issued a statement withdrawing our fatwa against Senator Escudero and I request Muslims all over the Philippines to vote for him,” the senator quoted Yahya as saying.
“Senator Escudero explained his position, and we now understand that he is not anti-Muslim. He has done a lot for the welfare of Muslims. And he will undertake more programs for Muslims,” Yahya was quoted as saying.
Escudero recently expressed support for government efforts to step up negotiations for a final peace agreement with the MILF after negotiators indicated a target date for a peace pact to be signed before Aquino’s third State of the Nation Address in July.
“I have been consistently supporting government initiatives to achieve enduring peace in Mindanao through giving substance to the framework agreement on [the] Bangsamoro [entity], in which members of the 16th Congress will play a big part,” Escudero said.