Philippine Muslims to have burial ground in Manila

The 2,400-square-meter cemetery will hold 378 tombs and a mosque. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 24 July 2020

Philippine Muslims to have burial ground in Manila

  • The $1 million cemetery development will cover 2,400 square meters, with 378 tombs and a mosque
  • Muslim residents until now had to travel to Taguig City, Bulacan province or Mindanao for burials

MANILA: Muslim residents of the Philippines capital soon will no longer have to make lengthy journeys to take the deceased to their final resting place.

On Wednesday, the city government led by Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso broke ground for the construction of Manila’s first Muslim cemetery.

Calling it a historic moment, Domagoso said the project is a way of recognizing the important contributions of Muslims to the history and culture of the city.

“Today is history, because we wanted to show to the next generation that they should be reminded of who we are as Manilenos and this should not be forgotten,” Domagoso said in a speech during the historic ceremony.

The 2,400-square-meter cemetery will hold 378 tombs and a mosque. Manila has allotted 49.3 million pesos ($1 million) for the project, which will also include the construction of a cultural hall.

“This is our own little way to make them feel that they are recognized and belong to the city of Manila. Not only belong, but also recognized as our ancestors,” the mayor said, as he apologized for neglect by previous administrations, which failed to provide Muslims a proper burial ground.

“It’s long overdue. It’s been 500 years of a certain level of neglect and denial. Today our children will remember and will continue to remember and respect cultures, traditions and customs in our city with regard to our Muslim community,” Domagoso said.

The mayor said Muslims “brought greatness to the city” even before the Spanish reached Philippine shores.

“We were then the land of rajahs, because rajahs ruled the then Kingdom of Manila, specifically the Rajah Sulayman dynasty. Why is it important to discuss the role of Rajah Sulayman in the history of Manila? It is to show that there is a need to give due recognition to the Muslims in the development of our city, as it was them who founded and made great the Kingdom of Manila before the Spanish conquest,” he said.

In the Islamic tradition, the deceased must be buried within 24 hours from the time of their death. However, until now, Muslims residents of Manila had to travel great distances to Taguig City, Bulacan province or Mindanao in order to bury their dead.

National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Chairman Saidamen Pagarungan, who was present during the ceremony, thanked Domagoso and the city government on behalf of all Filipino Muslims.

“This historic gift will be remembered not only by your Muslim constituents in Manila but also by the 12 million Muslim population of the country. The city government of Manila deserves our gratitude,” he said.

“I sincerely hope there will be more steps from the city of Manila that assert and protect the welfare of your Muslim brothers and sisters,” he added.

Pagarungan said he also hoped that the “beauty and splendor” of the Manila Golden Mosque will be reclaimed. The former tourist attraction is now surrounded by unsightly and illegal buildings.

“There is really a need to reclaim the beauty of the Manila Golden Mosque to symbolize the historical roots of Manila as an Islamic city, in the same manner that we have the Rajah Sulayman park in Roxas Boulevard,” he said.

Rajapaksa brothers win by landslide in Sri Lanka’s election

Updated 21 min 10 sec ago

Rajapaksa brothers win by landslide in Sri Lanka’s election

  • ‘Sri Lanka People’s Front has secured a resounding victory according to official results released so far’
  • Sri Lanka had been ruled by powerful executive presidents since 1978

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s powerful Rajapaksa brothers secured a landslide victory in the parliamentary election, giving them nearly the two-thirds majority of seats required to make constitutional changes, according to results released Friday.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is likely to be sworn in the same position by his younger brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, after the vote that could strengthen dynastic rule in the Indian Ocean island nation.
“Sri Lanka People’s Front has secured a resounding victory according to official results released so far,” Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in a Twitter message as results were being released. “It is my belief that that the expectation to have a Parliament that will enable the implementation of my ‘vision for prosperity’ policy will be reality tomorrow,” he said.
The Rajapaksas’ Sri Lanka People’s Front won 145 seats in the 225-member Parliament while its main opponent obtained only 54 seats, the election commission’s results showed. A party representing ethnic minority Tamils won 10 seats, and 16 others were split among 12 small parties.
The brothers need 150 seats, or control of two-thirds of seats in Parliament, to be able to change the constitution. At least four small parties collaborate with Rajapaksas’ party, so they appear to have mustered that support.
Jehan Perera, an analyst with independent think tank National Peace Council, said while a win for the Rajapaksa brothers was expected the proportion of victory was not.
“I thought there will be an erosion of votes (from the presidential election) and there will be some means of disillusionment at their performance,” he said, adding that voters had demonstrated the need for a strong and cohesive government led by strong leaders who could easily work together.
He said they also seemed to have considered security issues because disunity between the president and prime minister of the then-government is blamed for a security let down that led to last year’s Easter bomb attacks.
However, analysts say any attempt by Gotabaya Rajapaksa to push for changes that will strengthen presidential power at the expense of those of the prime minister may trigger sibling rivalry.
Sri Lanka had been ruled by powerful executive presidents since 1978. But a 2015 constitutional amendment strengthened Parliament and the prime minister and put independent commissions in charge of judiciary appointments, police, public services and the conduct of elections.
Gotabaya was elected president last November after projecting himself as the only leader who could secure the country after the Daesh-inspired bombings of churches and hotels on Easter Sunday that killed 269 people. Since being elected, he has said he had to function under many restrictions because of the constitutional changes.
However, Mahinda Rajapaksa is unlikely to cede any of his powers that might shrink his influence as he works on promoting his son Namal as his heir. Namal and three other members of the Rajapaksa family contested the election and are likely to control key functions in the new administration.
The landslide victory also raises fears of weakening government institutions such as independent commissions for elections, police and public service.