Explain remarks on Muslims, Cagayan governor told

Published November 26, 2020, 1:23 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba should personally explain the rather offensive remarks he made recently regarding Muslims, Deputy Speaker Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman said Thursday.

Deputy Speaker Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman
(Office of Deputy Speaker Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman / MANILA BULLETIN)

“I would like to express deep concern on the recent statements made by Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba on Muslims in his province. Although an apology was issued by the province’s information office on the governor’s behalf, I feel that an explanation must come from him directly in order to clarify his comments, which may be construed as an affront to Muslims everywhere,” Hataman said in a statement.

In a Nov. 25 Senate hearing, Mamba, a former House member, insinuated that the presence of Muslims equates to a peace and order problem.

“We do not have Muslims here. Wala kaming problema as far as peace and order as is concerned here (We do not have problems as far as peace and order is concerned here),” he told a Senate joint committee that probed the recent flooding tragedy in Luzon.

Hataman seemed willing to cut the Cagayan official some slack, although he admitted that Mamba’s words were insulting and disrespectful on face value.

“Gov. Mamba’s statement, though appearing as one ‘slip of the tongue,’ was still an insult and a disrespectful remark to all Muslims, not only to those in Cagayan. This is the reason I encourage my good friend to explain the matter himself personally.”

Doing so on the part of Mamba would give the public clarity as to what he really meant, said the former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“Ako ay kumbinsido na hindi ito sinasadya ni Gov. Mamba kundi simpleng slip of the tongue lamang. Mismong mga kapatid nating Muslim sa Cagayan ang nagpapatunay nito (I am convinced that Gov. Mamba didn’t mean to say this and that it was only a slip of the tongue. Our Muslim brethren in Cagayan can attest to this). The Muslims in Cagayan belong to a thriving community, and I have had the opportunity to meet them on occasions in the past. Naniniwala po ako sa sinabi ng kampo ni Gov. Mamba na walang extremism sa lalawigan (I believe in the remarks of Gov. Mamba’s camp that there’s no extremism in the province),” Hataman said.

“Having Muslims in our communities does not equate to extremism. This has been one of the most difficult hurdles in our fight against discrimination and in our efforts to pass an anti-discrimination law,” the Liberal Party solon added.