COTABATO CITY: The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is joining the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines in welcoming the historic visit of Pope Francis on January 15.
“We join the Christian Filipinos in the coming of Pope, alam namin na mahalaga ang pagbisita niya dito and meaningful [We know very well the importance of the Pope’s visit and that it will be meaningful],” Al Had Murad Ebrahim, MILF chief, told a select group of journalists in Camp Darapanan, the bailiwick of the MILF, on Saturday.
Murad said the MILF and the Bangsamoro people believed the Papal visit could help fast track the attainment of peace in Mindanao and the whole country.
“In fact last year, I personally sent a letter to the Pope through [Orlando] Cardinal Quevedo, appreciating his forthcoming visit, and hoping he will send us his word of wisdom and encouragement dito sa peace na hinahangad natin [in our desire for genuine peace], not only for the Muslims but for the entire population,” Murad said.
The MILF is sending the chair of the Darul Ifta [Muslim House of Opinion], the Muslim highest religious leader of Mindanao to represent the MILF during the duration of the Pope’s visit.
Murad said he was hoping the Argentinian Pontiff will mention the Mindanao peace process in any of his speeches while in the Philippines.
Earlier, Murad was quoted as saying the MILF is expecting the Pontiff to make a side trip to Cotabato City.
But based on the schedule of the Papal visit released by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, there was no mention of the Pope taking a side trip to Mindanao.