Press Release
April 10, 2013


Senator Chiz Escudero said the fatwa or opinion issued against him by a Muslim cleric was without basis and the result of a recycled issue that was bereft of any truth.

Escudero said the fatwa is not even known to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which Sheikh Jamil D. Yahya, grand imam of Marawi City and chairman of the Bangsamoro Supreme Council of Ulama, had cited when he issued the fatwa.

MILF Vice Chairman for Political and Military Affairs Gadhzali Jaafar said the MILF is unaware of the fatwa against Escudero and that none of its leaders has issued such an opinion.

Yahya had accused Escudero as anti-Muslim due to Escudero's supposed comment that the meeting between the Philippine government and the MILF meet in Tokyo in Aug. 8, 2011 was ill advised.

On the contrary, Jaafar said he sees Escudero as a good friend of the Muslims and a staunch advocate of peace and development.

Escudero said the issue has been clarified in the past, adding that his particular concern was addressed to President Benigno Aquino III's advisers and not on the act itself that proved to be beneficial in speeding up the peace process.

The President's gesture to personally tackle and find solution to the peace problem in Mindanao was a grand and magnanimous act, but the meeting in Japan raised questions then on the effectivity of government negotiators in doing their job, Escudero had said. The same issue was raised in a supposed plan by Bangsamoro groups to declare him persona non-grata in Mindanao.

Escudero said he was also maliciously quoted in several reports as saying that the Bangsamoro could not govern on its own.

"I never said that and will not say anything like that. I do not belittle and will never belittle the capabilities of the Bangsamoro people. I have even fought for their right to vote and choose their leader without the dictates of Manila, the Christians and Luzon who claim to know what the Bangsamoro people need," Escudero said.

"I leave it to those concerned the launching of a hate campaign against me based on imagined and manufactured allegations. Please get the facts straight and don't try to put words in my mouth," he said.

"The road to peace in Mindanao is a delicate issue. Useless intrigues have no place in it," Escudero said.

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