Catholics, military support Ramadan observance 

Catholics, military support Ramadan observance 

Gifts for Muslim brethren. Two Catholic members of a volunteer group bring to a mosque in Cotabato City food packages for Muslims observing Ramadhan fasting this month. KAKASA GROUP

By Ali G. Macabalang

June 6, 2018

COTABATO CITY

In a rare gesture of promoting cordiality with Muslims, Central Mindanao-based Catholics and the military brass have initiated activities in support of safe and solemn observance of Ramadan fasting in this city and elsewhere in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Pursuing “meaningful voluntarism” alongside interfaith promotion efforts, Catholic members of the Kakasa Pilipino Team chapter in this city launched on May 19 a house-to-house delivery of foods packs in known Muslim villages here.

Haz, a Muslim member of the team, posted on Facebook photos of Catholic teammates delivering hadiya (gifts) to interior houses surrounding a mosque at barangay Malagapas here.

‘Duyog Ramadan’

He said the gifts, mostly packed foods, were purchased by Catholic team members out of their personal money and donations from city residents, for daily distribution to fasting Muslims

The Kakasa group’s venture is this year’s version of the “Duyog Ramadan” program initiated by church leaders in this city three years ago. “Duyog” is a Visayan term for support.

Muslim leaders led by Governors Mujiv Hataman of ARMM and Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao lauded the “acts and intent” behind the humanitarian venture. They hailed it as “manifest gain” in the promotion of interfaith activities in Southern Philippines.

It may be recalled that tension was sparked between Muslim and Christian residents here when several Catholic city officials recommended to then President Cory Aquino to ban the airing of azan (call to prayer) from mosques, especially those in the vicinity of non-Muslim residences.

The controversial suggestion was perceived as made in protest to the spate of kidnappings by the group of Abugado “Mubarak” Gado of non-Muslim affluent residents here starting 1989.

Safe and solemn

In similar vein, Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, newly-installed Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief, reportedly ordered all units under his command to continue ensuring the safe observance of Ramadan in ARMM and Central Mindanao areas.

During his stint as commander of the Maguindanao-based 6th Infantry Division (6ID), Dela Vega allowed over 2,000 Muslims to stage congregational prayers for Eid‘l Futr, the festive end of Ramadan, at his command headquarters. He even hosted a banquet for the prayer participants.

This year’s Eid’l Fitr is expected to happen between June 14 and 16, depending on the sighting of the new moon in the lunar Islamic Hijrah calendar.