Duterte says Muslims are ‘instruments of love’

Filipino Muslim children kiss their mother as they pose for pictures after Eid Al-Fitr prayers in Philippine capital Manila on Wednesday. (AP)
Updated 05 June 2019

Duterte says Muslims are ‘instruments of love’

  • Philippines president says he has Muslim ancestry

MANILA: Muslims are “instruments of love,” the Philippines president said Wednesday as he urged them to promote peace in the country and wished them a happy Eid Al-Fitr.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who says he has Muslim ancestry, earlier this week declared June 5 a public holiday in observance of the festival marking the end of Ramadan.

A proclamation signed by Duterte said the whole country should have the opportunity to join their “Muslim brothers and sisters in peace and harmony” in the observance and celebration of Eid Al-Fitr, although the country is mostly Roman Catholic.

In his Eid message Duterte said: “The Filipino nation joins them as they offer prayers of praise and thanksgiving as well as demonstrate the virtues of the Islamic faith in accordance with the teachings of Allah through the Qur’an. May all Muslim Filipinos observe this day as a time for reflection, enlightenment and renewal of commitment to a much stronger devotion to the Almighty.”

He called on Muslim Filipinos “to take (the occasion) as an opportunity to deepen (their) role as instruments of love, sacrifice, respect and selfless service.”

“May each of you remain our government’s partner in promoting peace and understanding among Filipinos from all walks of life,” he added.

Duterte last year unveiled a law granting greater autonomy to the country’s Muslim south in a bid to end decades of bloody separatist conflict.

The law enforced a historic but fragile 2014 peace deal where the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) vowed to give up its quest for an independent homeland and lay down its fighters’ weapons in return for self-rule. 

The rebellion has claimed around 150,000 lives in the Mindanao region since the 1970s.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also extended Eid greetings to Muslims.

“In observance of Eid Al-Fitr, we also celebrate the spirit of social healing, reconciliation, and unity. Let us therefore continue to work together as one nation to ensure the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law,” he said.

In Marawi, the country’s the only Islamic city, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said thousands of residents had gathered at Mindanao State University to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr.

OPAPP, through its Duyog Ramadan program, joined residents who were celebrating the end of Ramadan.

Duyog Ramadan is a multi-stakeholder effort spearheaded by OPAPP that aims to promote social healing and reconciliation following a 2017 battle that lasted five months, killed 1,200 people and leveled much of Marawi.

Art workshops and the distribution of Ramadan food packages were among the activities carried out by OPAPP in collaboration with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Task Force Bangon Marawi and the provincial government of Lanao del Sur as part of the program.

Pakistan ex-PM in custody of anti-graft body amid Qatar LNG case

Updated 39 min 28 sec ago

Pakistan ex-PM in custody of anti-graft body amid Qatar LNG case

  • Last year, the NAB ordered an inquiry into Abbasi over the alleged misappropriation of funds
  • Pakistan is currently receiving a supply of 500 million cubic feet per day of LNG from Qatar

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was remanded in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for 13 days, a day after he was arrested in a case involving a multibillion-rupee liquefied natural gas (LNG) import contract to Qatar.
Abbasi, who is also the vice president of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N) party, was presented before Judge Bashir Ahmed of an accountability court on Friday morning. The case has been adjourned until Aug. 1.
Speaking to journalists before his appearance at the court, Abbasi called his arrest “an attack on democracy.”
Last year, the NAB ordered an inquiry into Abbasi over the alleged misappropriation of funds in the import of LNG that the agency says caused a loss of about $2 billion to the national exchequer. He is also being investigated for allegedly granting a 15-year contract for an LNG terminal to a “favored” company. Abbasi rejects the allegations.
PML-N Sen. Mushahid Ullah Khan said Pakistan was facing “the worst energy crisis of its kind” when his party came to power after the 2013 general election, and the LNG deal was quickly finalized with Qatar to overcome it.
“The industry was shutting down with thousands of people getting unemployed, but this LNG supply helped us reverse the tide,” he told Arab News.
Khan said Pakistan’s LNG contract with Qatar was “the cheapest possible deal” the country could have gotten, and rubbished allegations of corruption and kickbacks.
“If there is something wrong in the contract, why is this government not reviewing it?” Khan asked.
Pakistan is currently receiving a supply of 500 million cubic feet per day of LNG from Qatar under a 15-year agreement at 13.37 percent of Brent crude price. It is a government-to-government agreement and the price can only be reviewed after 10 years of the contract.
“It is the worst example of political victimization by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government,” PML-N Chairman Raja Zafrul Haq said on Friday after the accountability court remanded Abbasi in NAB custody. “Shahid Khaqan served the nation with dignity and did not commit any wrongdoings,” Haq added.
Abbasi was arrested on his way to Lahore to address a news conference along with PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday.
He served as federal minister for petroleum in the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when he finalized an LNG import deal with Qatar. Abbasi then served for less than a year as prime minister following the resignation of Sharif in 2017.
On Thursday, Pakistan opened technical bids of four international companies for the supply of 400 million cubic feet per day of LNG for a period of 10 years to fulfil the country’s rising energy requirements.
Officials told Arab News that a Qatari delegation, led by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in June, resented that Islamabad had ignored its lowest offer of 11.05 percent of Brent for the fresh deal, and instead floated tenders seeking provision of LNG for 10 years from international companies.
The secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Energy said: “Yes, this is true. Qatar expressed its annoyance, but we are following our rules. Qatar has not submitted its bid to participate in the process.”
Khan won power last year vowing to root out corruption among what he describes as a venal political elite, and views the probes into veteran politicians — including Sharif and former President Asif Ali Zardari — as long overdue.
The NAB’s campaign has become a topic of fierce political debate in Pakistan, and its focus on the new government’s political foes has prompted accusations of a one-sided purge. The government denies targeting political opponents.
Commenting on Abbasi’s case, former NAB prosecutor Munir Sadiq said the anti-corruption watchdog would file a reference against Abbasi in an accountability court for prosecution, but only if it found irrefutable evidence against him.
“This case is now at the evidence-collection stage, and the NAB will file a reference in the court if it finds irrefutable corruption evidence against Abbasi during the investigation,” Sadiq said.
He added that any inquiry against Abbasi would be shelved after 90 days if corroborating evidence of corruption was not found.
“If a weak case will be filed against the accused, then he will surely receive support from the court,” Sadiq said.