Cotabato City, Lanao Sur prohibit congregational prayers in celebrating end of Ramadhan


COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 12 May) – The city government of Cotabato and the province of Lanao del Sur will not allow the traditional congregational prayers as part of the celebration of Eid’l Fitr or end of Ramadhan.

The Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid, also known as the Grand Mosque, in Cotabato City. MindaNews file photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi said this was agreed after a series of discussions with the members of the City Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 (CIATF).

“It is with regret that the [CIATF] has decided to discourage Cotabatenios from conducting congregational prayers on the celebration of the Eid’l Fitr,” she said in a public address via social media.

Sayadi added that despite the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) status in Cotabato City, they cannot guarantee the allowed 30-percent capacity in every venue.

Physical distancing and wearing of protective gear, she said, will remain in force to counter the increasing risk of the virus.

“If you can see in our daily COVID-19 tracker, our cases increase by the day and we record COVID-related deaths every week here in our city,” the mayor said.

The local government noted the overwhelming number of patients being admitted with cases related to COVID-19 in every hospital, and even more so now with the two overseas Filipino workers who came home to Region 12 and found to have contracted the more contagious variant from India.

“We appeal to all our Muslim brothers and sisters to perform our Eid prayers in our respective homes so we can be safe with our families and loved ones. We ask for your utmost understanding and we hope that we will continue to follow all our minimum heath protocols,” she said.

Last year, policemen were deployed in the corners of big mosques to refrain the faithful from gathering as part of the efforts to contain the spread of the dreaded virus.

The city’s open grounds in front of city hall, one of the congregational areas during Eid’l Fitr, is close to the public.

As of May 10, Cotabato City has a total of 1,465 COVID-19 cases, 110 of them are active. There have been 1,294 recoveries against 61 deaths, according to an update posted at the city government’s Facebook page.

Lanao del Sur also passed a resolution suspending mass congregations, including in mosques, for the Eid’l Fitr tomorrow.

“All mosques including organized mass outdoor congregation prayers are hereby suspended to protect the public from the highly contagious COVID-19 disease,” Resolution No. 6 series of 2021 said.

It encouraged Muslims not to sacrifice “the observance of the minimum health standards … and protocols.”

“This year’s Eid’l Fitr congregation prayers shall be performed together with our respective immediate families, privately, at home,” it added, noting that celebrating it “with any person outside of one’s immediate household [is] discouraged.”

The resolution further states that the assistance of Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in enforcing the resolution can be requested by the local chief executive or the barangay concerned.

The resolution was released in consultation with the Lanao del Sur Provincial Ulama Council, the City Ulama of Marawi, and the Provincial IATF-EID.

Lanao del Sur, including Marawi City, now has a total of 1,969 COVID-19 cases, 126 of which are active, according to the local IATF.

Lanao del Sur is currently in General Community Quarantine Status (GCQ) until the end of May.

Marawi’s Amai Pakpak Medical Center has also reported near critical status because of the rise of admissions for COVID-19 and fully occupied intensive care units (ICUs).

Meanwhile, the Siyap ko Pagtaw, an organization based in Marawi, appealed to the Lanao del Sur IATF through a post on Facebook to allow the conduct of Salatul Eid in mosques tomorrow, assuring that health protocols will be followed.

“We understand the wisdom of the IATF Resolution which is to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, but we would like to remind you that the Hukm Shar’i of Salatul Eid is Fardu Kifayah (communal obligation in Muslim legal doctrine), that is, the total prohibition of Salatul Eid on account of COVID-19 will cross the limits of our religion,” said chairperson Aslani “Toti” Cabugatan Montila.

He added that they request not to deploy soldiers tomorrow because of the possibility of tension that may rise in enforcing the resolution. (Ferdinandh Cabrera with reports from Riz P. Sonio / MindaNews)