By Ali G. Macabalang
MUSLIM CADAVERS FOUND IN BULACAN. Three cadavers in Bulacan and parts of shreds and bones desecrated in a quarry operation affecting a Muslim cemetery in Montalban, Rizal. (Photos supplied)
The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) has provided focal attention to two tragic incidents in Luzon: Discovery of cadavers of three Muslim individuals slain in Bulacan; and an alleged desecration of graves in an Islamic cemetery in Rizal.
The two justice-demanding events happened this week, compounding the NCMF’s taxing strides in resolving mostly untold adversities spawned by the global COVID-19 pandemic among thousands of Muslim Filipinos in and outside the fledgling Bangsamoro autonomous region in southern Philippines.
Cadavers of two female and a male individuals, identified later as Maranaos from Lanao del Sur, were discovered early dawn of Jan. 15 dumped at the by-pass road along Barangay Malamig, Bustos town in Bulacan.
Passersby alarmed local police authorities, of them a Tausog officer who relayed the information around 5.a.m to organized Maranao residents across Bulacan. Organized Maranao residents in nearby Baliuag town led by one Olo Racman rushed to the scene, and took photos and videos of the scene that went viral in social media networks, furnishing The Philippine Muslim Today (PMT) e-paper.
The PMT transmitted three photos and a longer video footage (supplied by unsuccessful senatorial candidate Faisal Mangondato) to Dr. Jun Alonto-Datu Ramos, NCMF spokesman, for perusal and action.
Prompt coordination by the NCMF, through Dr. Datu Ramos, led to the identification of the female cadavers as those of Lionor Tomawis and Saima Sarip, and the male corpse as that of Jalani Marian.
The corpses sustained various fatal wounds of still unknown types. The fatalities were believed to be traders residing at the Pier area of Bustos town, and natives of Lanao del Sur, particularly Ramain, Malabang at Marantao municipalities.
Alarmed by information that workers at a Bustos funeral parlor were set to embalm the corpses – a process deemed forbidden in Muslim tradition, the NCMF persuaded Muslim leaders and an imam allied with the Bulacan provincial government to take the cadavers for burial under Islamic rites, it was learned.
Citing an initial report from police scene of crime operation (SOCO) investigators, Datu Ramos said the victims were “killed in the same area where the bodies were found.”
He said police investigators were still trying to establish possible motives in the killing and the perpetrators’ identities.
“Breach” in decades-old Muslim cemetery
Prior to the Bulacan incident, the NCMF also received on Jan. 13 complaints from concerned Muslim residents about an alleged “breach” into an Islamic cemetery in Montalban (formerly Rodriguez) town in Rizal province.
Complaining Muslim residents took photos bones and shreds of buried bodies scattered in surrounding surfaces of a Montalban village being subjected to a quarry project. The photos also went viral on Facebook pages.
Datu Ramos’ efforts drew an initial response from the DENR-National Capital Region office, which set a “technical” meeting on Jan. 18 for it and the NCMF to thresh out the problem.
The issue escalated as Presidential Adviser on Special Concerns Abdullah “Dabs” Mama-o intervened and wrote an urgent letter to Montalban Mayor Dennis Hernandez, copy-furnished the offices of the President, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, DILG Sec. Eduardo Año, and Rizal Gov. Rebecca “Nini” Alcantara-Yenares.
In his letter, dated Jan. 13, Sec. Mama-o described as “insensitive and uncaring” the Montalban town government’s quarry activity in the vicinity of a long-established Muslim cemetery at Sitio Maislap in Barangay San Isidro.
“There should have been sufficient coordination with the Montalban and Greater Manila Muslim community” by the local government unit and its contracted quarrying company “so that relatives could move the remains of their loved ones if they wished to..’” Mama-o said.
“Please, Mr. Mayor, put an immediate stop to the operations (of the quarry company), Sec. Mama-o pleaded. AGM