• Muslim cemetery row in General Santos

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    THE descendants of Muslim leaders buried at the “Kubba” or ancestral gravesite and sacred burial ground of royal datus in General Santos City are asking local government leaders to properly consult first with the heirs of the royal datus regarding the plan to develop the Muslim cemetery.

    The call was aired following the conduct of the joint consultative hearing of the Committee on Laws, Rules, and Review of Barangay Ordinances and Executive Orders and the Committee on Muslim Affairs and Indigenous Peoples chaired by city councilor Ramon Melliza on the infrastructure development of the Muslim cemetery.

    The plan to develop the cemetery drew mixed reactions from the descendants of Datu Madot, and Mohammad Ali Hanapi who said they were not invited and consulted on the said joint hearing and consultation.

    Amei Palalisan, one of the members of the ad hoc committee, said Melliza should respect and listen to the descendants of Datu Madot and Mohammad Ali Hanapi (also known as Datu Mama sa Malok) who were buried at the “Kubba” (ancestral gravesite and sacred burial ground of royal datus) located at Muslim cemetery in Purok Malok in Barangay Labangal, General Santos City.

    “Though I am one of the officials of the ad hoc committee created and tasked to plan about the infrastructure development of the Muslim cemetery at Purok Malok in Barangay Labangal, I do highly respect our beliefs and the cultural heritage of our ancestors and the city government must listen and consult the heirs of our ancestors buried at the Kubba”, she said.

    Johnny Siao, an Islamic believer, assailed the government for not giving due respect to the beliefs and cultural heritage of Islam which, he said, is tantamount to dishonoring the royal datus buried at the Kubba.

    Lawyers and observers agreed that the city government must respect the rights of the descendants of Datu Madot, especially since religious beliefs and cultural heritage of the clan is at stake.

    The datus’ descendants recently met to discuss their move to come up with a manifesto that would stipulate the importance of consultation to preserve cultural beliefs and religious practices under the context of the Islamic faith in honoring the death of the royal datus.

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