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ARMM wants peaceful closure to Marawi Ramadan vacation controversy

Local News • 23:16 PM Mon Jul 13, 2015
John Unson

COTABATO CITY -- Officials are optimistic of a peaceful closure to the controversial enforcement by the Marawi City government of a month-long Ramadan vacation in schools in total disregard of limitations set by the Local Government Code.Regional executives in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Monday said they intend to hold a dialogue on the issue with Mayor Fahad Salic of Marawi City.ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman had reportedly tasked his local government secretary, lawyer Anwar Malang, to reach out to the mayor and discuss peaceful solutions to the controversy.The ordinance to suspend classes during Ramadan was first implemented by the Marawi City government in 2007 for a religious reason, but its validity and effect over a national entity, such as the Department of Education (DepEd), have since been in question and subject of endless debates.John Magno, ARMM's regional education secretary, urged last week the personnel of the Marawi City schools division to desist from recognizing the measure and to immediately consult lawyers on why the ordinance is anomalous and inimical to public service.Past ARMM governors never questioned the legitimacy of the ordinance, apparently apprehensive of losing political patronage by thousands of Marawi City registered voters and their local officials.ARMM’s regional executive secretary, lawyer Laisa Alamia, on Monday said the Marawi City month-long Ramadan school furlough is punitive in character owing to its mention of fines on potential violators. Declaration of holidays requires the approval of the regional governor of ARMM for areas in the autonomous region, and the Office of the President,” Alamia said.Marawi City is the administrative and political seat of Lanao del Sur, a component province of ARMM.Alamia said the ordinance may have been crafted ultra vires, which means beyond authority in layman’s term.Alamia said the Hataman administration wants the issue settled via legal diplomatic means.Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, which lasts for one lunar cycle, about 28 to 29 days, both as a religious obligation and as atonement for wrongdoings. They focus on acts of piety and perform nighttime taraweeh worship rites in addition to the regular obligatory daytime five periodic prayers during the period.Clerics in ARMM's Madaris Education Bureau, among them preachers trained in Islamic schools in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Libya, said there is not even any verse in the Qur'an telling Muslims to go on vacation during the Ramadan.Lawyer Kirby Abdullah, ARMM’s assistant secretary for Maguindanao province, said nowhere in the regional and national versions of the Local Government Code can one find a provision authorizing local government units to issue edicts that can alter calendars of activities of national departments operating under Malacañang. Both codes defines the limits of the powers of LGUs in the autonomous region, Abdullah said.Alamia said they are confident the issue can be resolved through a peaceful dialogue between officials of ARMM and Salic, Marawi City's full-blooded ethnic Maranaw chief executive.ARMM’s Maranaw community is amply represented in the executive department of the autonomous region. The Maranaw bastions Lanao del Sur and Marawi City have three elected representatives to the ARMM’s 24-member Regional Assembly, touted as Little Congress” of the autonomous region.

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