On November 18 a demolition operation turned violent and bloody. The residents bravely resisted. But the cost was the death of three residents and many injured and the destruction of the homes of nearly four hundred families. But the mosque was not demolished. It is now where many of the evicted families are living.
This is the third attempt to remove the mosque. And it has always been violent.
The reason? The Philippine government is developing this huge reclaimed area by scenic Manila Bay for commercial development, including casino gambling, and where the mosque has no place. Yes, big money.
The mosque, on the other hand, is the symbol of the people’s struggle to survive in Manila after leaving the violence and instability of insurgency-wracked Mindanao. The mosque is not only a sacred place for the community but also a source of pride. They built it with their labor and whatever little they earned as small traders and vendors, plus the generosity of donors.
The residents say they are open to relocation but people and mosque must go together. They refuse to go to the land proposed by the government as their relocation site because the said lot is legally contested by others. This increases their suspicion that the government is not serious.
Please write to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and other government officials.
You may find the sample letter useful. Or you can draft your own.