ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – A network of influential Muslim religious leaders in the Zamboanga Peninsula region and the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi on Monday, April 18, declared its decision to drop their presidential bets in favor of Vice President Leni Robredo.
The ZamBaSulTa Coalition of Young Muslim Religious Leaders said the decision was made following months of discussions and discernment. The coalition includes leaders of groups of religious leaders who haven’t reached the senior citizen age in Western Mindanao.
The network includes Sheikh Musal Harun of the Kulliyatud Dirasat Al Islamiya (College of Islamic Studies), Ustadz Abdulmubin Dalun of the Basilan Huffadz Al-Qur-anil Karim Association, Professor Abdulham Mohammad of the Maluso Madaris Association, Sheikh Sharif Halil of the Ma’had Atta’seel Incorporated, Sheikh Julmajan Suaibon and Sheikh Anas Abdulmaula of the Campland Holy Qur’an Memorization Center, and Abunnapis Abdulmajid of the Education of the Basilan Ulama Supreme Council.
The religious leaders declined to say who their initial choices for the presidency were although their followers said they were originally for the presidential bids of ex-senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.
Muslim Leaders Assembly president Sheikh Yahya Titong said the various groups in the network have members who used to be divided in their choices for the presidency until a decision was made.
The imams and madaris in the coalition were in a position of great influence in that they were being followed by thousands of Muslims in the ZamBaSulTa area, according to Sheikh Alkasabi Sakiral, director of the Markaz Al-Ihsan.
“We’ve been discussing and discerning for the past few months” until they reached the decision, said Sheikh Fahad Haris, president of the Almanara Foundation.
Sheikh Loderson Mahir Gustaham, chairman of the United Imams of the Philippines-ZamBaSulTa area, echoed this: “After thorough reflection and discernment, we came to a conclusion that Vice President Leni Robredo is the right person to be the president because of her track record, integrity, competence, and dedication to serving, especially the poor, oppressed and the marginalized like us, not to mention her mother-like leadership attributes of being caring and loving.”
The coalition also said its members were convinced that Robredo would be the best for the Bangsamoro. – Rappler.com
Frencie Carreon is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship