The highly influential Bangsamoro Supreme Council of the Ulamas, chaired by no less than Imam Yahyah has issued a fatwah enjoining fellow Muslims throughout the Philippines not to vote for former president Joseph Estrada, Mar Roxas and Franklin Drilon as senator.
The fatwa was issued at the time when Estrada and the entire PMP-UNO entourage visited Mindanao, especially North Cotabato.
The Council scored Estrada for his disastrous war policy which left hundreds dead and thousands of families displaced in what was described as a "war of attrition" in 2000. A year after, Estrada was ousted in a popular revolt.
Meanwhile, the Council commented against Roxas for his incendiary statements related to the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Ancestral Domain. The Council remembered how Roxas and Drilon blocked the implementation of the MOA which could have ended the decades-old war in the region.
The Muslim population in the Philippines stands at 5 million, a very crucial one in a tightly contested presidential race. Balik Islam, or reverts, stand at 1.8 million. Together, the entire Muslim vote account for about 7 million votes.
And mind you, the Muslims in the Philippines are not solely based in Mindanao. Many are living in Central Visayas and Northern Philippines.
The only thing which I personally commend the present administration is its respect for Muslims. Muslims enjoy a more peaceful existence now than before. Muslim communities jot the Philippine landscape. And Muslim traders have easier and freer access to commercial establishments than before.
This was not the situation during Estrada's time.