Without power, Lanao Ramadan gloomy

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MARAWI CITY: Twenty-seven towns of Lanao del Sur are observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in “total darkness” due to lack of electricity, despite a court order directing the local power cooperative to reconnect 32 aggrieved towns.

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This city and the province used to observe Ramadan with various Islamic activities and trade fairs at night with colorful lights and decorations decking the streets where people spent time to celebrate the blessed month—until the electricity was disconnected.

Electricity in few areas in the first district of the province were restored, but 12 other towns there and 15 towns of second district with more than 250,000 residents still had no electricity when Ramadan fasting started on Sunday.

Last June 16, the Local Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Marawi ordered the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (Lasureco) to restore electricity to the 32 local government units that were illegally disconnected last year.

“The Muslims in 27 towns have yet to taste electricity during Ramadan,” Lawyer Bayan Balt said.

Because even in the areas where power supply was restored, such as Ditsaan-Ramain town, its Mayor Ali Adiong complained that Lasureco reconnected the electricity only along the highway of his municipality after the court order, Balt said.

He also quoted Alinog Di–samburun of the municipality of Tamparan who lamented that Lasureco linemen were allegedly demanding P2,000 from every Barangay that asked for reconnection.

“The Muslims at night time recite the Qura’an and the Hadith, hold mass prayers [taraweeh]and wake up early at 2 a.m. to cook and eat before sunrise,” he added.

The practice of sawm or fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, in which Muslims are obliged to practice “self-sacrifice” through abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to dusk.

Earlier, 22 complaining mayors trooped to the Office of the Ombudsman in Manila and filed a plunder suit for alleged misused of cooperative’s funds against Lasureco manager Ashary Maongco, National Electrification Administration (NEA) Administrator Edita Bueno and NEA auditor Digno Tumbokon. The accused are still holding office despite requests for their suspension.

“We appeal to the Philippine government under the leadership of President Benigno Aquino 3rd to give meaning to the holy month of Ramadhan by giving us electricity that we deserve fairly and justly as citizens of this country, for only then can justice be served to our Muslims brothers,” Balt said.

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