Muslim leaders accuse Labella, Tumulak of desecrating cemetery in Brgy Guba
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Leaders of a Muslim community in Cebu City has asked the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas to investigate two city officials whom they accused of desecrating their cemetery located in the mountain barangay of Guba.
On Friday, October 30, they filed complaints about the violation of their constitutional rights to worship, charges of gross negligence under the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act, violation of the Code and Conduct for Ethical Standards for Public Officials, grave misconduct, and the violation of the Civil Code against Mayor Edgardo Labella and Councilor Dave Tumulak.
Signatories of the complaint, who asked not to be named, said they felt “undue harm” after they found that garbage from the proposed city public cemetery that is located nearby was dumped into their “sacred ground.”
The complainants said that the act was a violation of their freedom to express their religious beliefs. The project that was ordered by Labella and Tumulak also led to the destruction of the area which is of religious importance to their community.
CDN Digital has tried but failed to reach Tumulak and Labella as of the time of writing. Both are yet to give their comments on the issue.
The city’s public cemetery was first proposed in Barangay Guba, but its development was stopped following concerns on the cutting of trees in the area.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu also had the cemetery project transferred to Barangay Sapangdaku in the city’s south district.
In their complaint, Muslim leaders in Cebu City said that several members of their families have been buried at the cemetery since former mayor Tomas Osmeña donated the property for their use on August 25, 2005.
They visited their burial grounds after they heard the news sometime in July that debris coming from the nearby city cemetery were dumped into their burial grounds.
“When we heard of the patently illegal act of the Respondents, we as leaders of the Muslim Community here in Cebu visited our Muslim Memorial Garden to confirm if it was true. We were shocked at what we saw: cut trees and boulders were dumped on the graves of our departed loved ones without permission. We were deeply hurt that the graves were not respected,” Muslim leaders said in their affidavit.
Muslim leaders said there is no excuse for the “sacrilegious acts” committed by the city government while they expressed hope that the debris will be removed immediately and their cemetery cleaned and respected again. / dcb
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