Batanes to Tawi-Tawi
Julmunir I. Jannaral
An untold secret cannot be forever secret. In the same manner a pregnant woman after carrying her baby for 9 months will have no option but to give birth.
This is the case of Sarah Balabagan of Simuay, Sultan Kudarat in the Province of Maguindanao. Sarah was a Muslima when at the age of 17 years old she became a domestic helper at the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She was born on August 16, 1979 thus she was just 17 at the time she worked as an overseas Filipino worker in UAE.
But she was imprisoned in UAE from 1994 to 1996 for murder after she confessed she was able to stab dead for 34 times her employer an 85 year old man identified as Almas Mohammad Al-Baloushi who tried to rape her at his home in Al-Ain, UAE. She was sentenced to death by firing squad but it was not carried out after the Al-Baloushi family accepted the blood money of $41,000 fine.
The sentence of Sarah was reduced to a year in prison and 100 lashes.
But this was the result of the help of the Philippine government under then President Fidel V. Ramos who tried to intervene in the case of Sarah Balabagan. Had the death sentence been carried out she would have died as a Muslima considering death sentence in UAE is being carried out by a firing squad.
Sarah Balabagan now a devout Christian
But now she is a devout Christian having dropped his Islamic religion and changed to Christianity and now she is known as Mrs. Sarah Balabagan-Sereno. In case she will die naturally she will be buried in accordance with Christian rite.
In like manner if eating of Pork which is Haram for the Muslims, now Sarah although belongs to a Maguindanao tribe but now a devout Christian does not mind anymore if the food is Haram or Halal. After all Christian is not prohibited to eat even Haram food like Pork.
In the Philippines freedom of religion is enshrined in the Philippine Constitution. Thus when Sarah Balabagan changed her religion she has not violated the Philippine laws because we have Freedom of Religion.
However, under the Islamic Law or Shari’ah, Sarah Balabagan has committed a heinous crime in Islam. In other words she has became an apostate or one who changes her Islamic religion. The Merriam Webster Dictionary has the worst terminology for an apostate meaning Judas, serpent or snake or simply traitor.
Incidentally when I was the Station Manager of PTV-4 in Cotabato City, one of my Engineers is a graduate of Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE) and has a surname of Balabagan. I will not divulge his full name except for his surname as a Balabagan as a matter of respect. He admitted though that Sarah is his cousin and that the father of Sarah by the name of Karim Balabagan is his uncle.
After he knew that Sarah has converted to Christianity, he said it was much better if Sarah’s death sentence by firing squad in UAE Prison was carried out at least she died as a Muslima.
Sarah Balabagan was released from UAE Prison
At the time Sarah Balabagan was released from UAE prison after serving her one year prison term with 100 lashes she was immediately flown back to Manila on board the Gulf Air plane on August 1, 1996. She was accompanied by Philippine Ambassador to UAE Roy Seneres.
I was just newly assigned in 1996 as News Reporter in PTV-4 and was assigned to cover the arrival of Sarah Balabagan at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and later on attended a Press Conference at the OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) whose Administrator at that time was Wilhem Soriano.
Sarah Balabagan finally divulged her Secret
Actually the secret is actually her love life as a 17 year old minor. As a journalist from Mindanao that time 22 years ago I came to know that TV journalist like me before had an affair with Sarah on the pretext of getting an exclusive interview that later on bloomed into an illicit relationship and that she became pregnant by this broadcaster.
In the 90s together with another Muslim journalist from the Newspaper, we were about to divulge the secret of Sarah’s love life. But considering she was a fellow Muslim at that time I did not want to give a bad name to a Maguindanaoan.
However, Sarah herself divulged her secret in a long distance interview with Ben Tulfo’s BITAG Unfiltered segment from Las Vegas, USA.
She finally divulged that it was Arnold Clavio of GMA7 Television who got her pregnant at the age of 17. And admitted that Clavio is the biological father of her first born daughter named Ara who was born on November 7, 1997. She is now 21 years old and stayed with them in Las Vegas after having been petitioned by Sarah’s husband Sereno to join them in the USA.
“Arnold Clavio is a pedophile. Sarah Balabagan trusted him because he was her interviewer in an exclusive, he took advantage of that trust and got her pregnant while she was a minor. GMA should fire him,” a Twitter user wrote.
“Akala ko ba wala kayong kinikilingan, walang pinoprotektahan @gmanetwork bakit wala man lang kayong aksyon laban kay Arnold Clavio. #JusticeforSarahBalabagan,” another social media user said.
“Has he issued any statement yet about Sarah Balabagan’s big revelation? It would be good if he provided support, and would not deny paternity. From the situation prevailing at that time, it seems Arnold Clavio took advantage of a traumatized minor,” another internet user alleged.
Sarah is now an apostate
Why Sarah formerly a Muslim from Maguindanao now a devout Christian in Las Vegas? That’s the question why she turned as an apostate which is a heinous crime in Islamic Law.
As interviewed by Ben Tulfo in his BITAG Unfiltered, apparently Sarah Balabagan-Sereno really blamed Islamic law after having suffered 100 lashes inflicted by the prison authorities at Al-Ain Prison in UAE. Hence, that prompted her to change her religion to Christianity in addition to having a Christian husband. JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL