A Provincial Board (PB) member on Friday allayed public concern on the entry of 13 thobe-clad Muslim missionaries into the province which aroused suspicion of police, as the men who are mostly from Mindanao were immediately identified by authorities.
Board Member Ricky Masamayor, chair of the PB’s committee on peace and order, said that the Maranao men have previously been to Bohol several times as Tablighi missionaries.
The Tablighi is non-political global movement urging Muslims to return to Sunni Islam, the religion’s largest denomination.
Based on reports, the 13 Maranao missionaries who arrived at the Jagna port on Tuesday dawn are from Davao City, Marawi City and other parts of Lanao del Sur, Cagayan de Oro City, Sultan Kudarat, Cebu City, Angeles City and Lapu-Lapu City.
They entered Bohol through a commercial ferry which docked at the Jagna pier at 4 a.m. from Cagayan de Oro City.
The Maranaos purpose in the province is to urge fellow Muslims who have stopped going to mosques to again visit their places of worship, said Masamayor.
Meanwhile, Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO) Community Relations Branch chief Supt. George Vale said that there were no discriminatory acts involved in the handling of the Maranao men’s entry into the province.
The missionaries were aware of Bohol’s security situation and had submitted themselves to authorities by showing IDs, said Vale.
For his part, BPPO Provincial Intelligence Branch chief Sr. Insp. Jojit Mananquil noted that the Maranao men were “very” cooperative when they were interviewed by the police.
However, authorities had noted that tight monitoring operations will still be carried out particularly on those who arrive from Mindanao amid violent clashes between the ISIS-linked Maute Group and government troops in Marawi City and the implementation of martial law in the region.
The Maranaos are expected to visit areas with mosques such as Ubay, Tagbilaran City and Jagna, said Masamayor.
Earlier, police in Jagna coordinated with the Muslim community in Pandan of the said town which is led by Gasa Medal, an imam, after the Maranao men told authorities that they are Muslim missionaries.
Medal reportedly vouched for the missionaries noting that they are law-abiding citizens.
The town of Jagna has two barangays that have large Muslim populations composed of Maranaos and Tausugs, said PO2 Jason Lurden. (R. Tutas)