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19 April 2024

‘Fatwa’ issued against Philippine re-electionist Senator Escudero

By Correspondent

Muslim religious leaders on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao have issued a ‘fatwa’ against controversial re-electionist Senator Francisco ‘Chiz’ Escudero, allegedly for being “anti-peace” and “anti-Muslim”.

“Mr Chiz Escudero should not be voted,” said the fatwa, which is a legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic scholar, spearheaded by Sheikh Jamil D Yahya, grand imam of Marawi City and chairman of the Bangsamoro Supreme Council of Ulama (BSCU).

Yahya, formerly a ‘mutawwa’, or part of the religious police in Saudi Arabia, has asked mosque administrators to have the fatwa against Escudero read in their respective mosques.

The national daily ‘Manila Bulletin’ reported on Saturday that it has a copy of the fatwa, which was issued on March 23 and also endorsed by the Jamio Mindanao Al Islamie (Mindanao Islamic Centre) and a number of Muslims in Mindanao, which is predominantly Christian but also a homeland to Muslim minority.

“After studying some published statements of Senator Chiz Escudero regarding the ongoing peace process being conducted by the Philippine Government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)... among them that the Aquino-Murad meeting in Tokyo is ‘ill advised’, we found out Mr Escudero as anti-peace and, therefore, anti-Muslim," the fatwa said.

Escudero, who had described the meeting as “ill-advised” in an earlier statement, has clarified that his suggestion to improve the “peace process” further “does not equate to being anti-Muslim”.

Escudero has become a controversial reelectionist senator the past few weeks, owing to his widely publicised rift with the parents of his girlfriend, actress Heart Evangelista.

Her parents have accused Escudero of being an arrogant and disrespectful drunkard, toppling him from the No 1 spot in a political survey for senatorial candidates, although he is still at No 3.

The clandestine meeting between President Benigno Aquino III and MILF Chairman Al Murad Ebrahim in Japan on August 4, 2011 was for the framework agreement that the administration was discussing with the Muslim rebel group, to achieve peace in Mindanao.

Both parties signed the agreement, which serves as a guideline for the creation of a bigger Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao, late last year.

Yahya said his BSCU has made fatwa a political weapon.

In the May 2010 election, BSCU issued a fatwa against ousted president Joseph Estrada, who ran again for president, then-vice-presidential bet (now Interior Secretary) Mar Roxas and then-senatorial bet (now Senator) Franklin Drilon.

Estrada, who is now running for the mayor of Manila City in next month’s election, and Roxas lost in the 2010 polls.