Non-Muslims in Basilan not ready to support Bangsamoro Basic Law–bishop
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines–Catholic Bishop Martin Jumoad has said that non-Muslim residents of Basilan are not ready to accept the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which will pave the way for a new political autonomous entity to be controlled by Muslims.
“The BBL, in general, is good, but there are so many parts that we are apprehensive about, particularly once the parliament, which will be composed of Muslims, would impose laws that would go against the non-Muslims,” Jumoad told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.
“The non-Muslim Basilenos expressed fears of these exclusive powers like those concerning hog raising and the imposition of head covers or turongs on non-Muslims,” Jumoad said.
Citing Sulu, the bishop said non-Muslim communities could not even raise hogs in their backyards. “They could not even have lechons there,” he said.
In an earlier interview, Eric Harina, president of the Zamboanga City Hog Raisers Association, told reporters that selling pork meat in Sulu has been risky.
“One of our colleagues brings pork meat there but on order basis and delivers the meat under tight security for fear of offending the Muslim population there,” Harina said.
Jumoad said the apprehension over the BBL has been triggered by possible laws that would be enacted by the Muslim-dominated parliament.
He said all the 14 priests in Basilan have opposed the BBL, including the 52 percent non-Muslim population of Isabela City.
A 2010 Census revealed Isabela City has a registered population of 97,857.
Jumoad also cited the poor governance of the past ARMM leaderships, “with the exception of (Mujiv) Hataman where we see concrete developments which were absent during the past administrations.”
“The past administrations, they just showed to the people how to enrich themselves and this is also observed not just in the past ARMM leadership even in our own province,” Jumoad added.
The bishop said when a non-Muslim woman openly declared her support for the BBL, she came “under fire from our people, and there we realized that the silent majority are against BBL.”
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman has appealed to Jumoad to help bring the different faiths to a “dialogue for peace.”
“I know the good bishop is speaking from experience, knowing where he is assigned now, but we from the ARMM are setting parameters to change the perception of our people about ARMM and the Bangsamoro in general, particularly in the issue of good governance,” Hataman said.
“I don’t think the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will violate the basic rights of every individual,” Hataman said.
Hataman called on Jumoad and the Catholic priests to serve as bridges for understanding and peace.
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