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Meranaws gather in mosque for Eid prayers amid pandemic

BALOI, LANAO DEL NORTE —– Despite the IATF’s prevailing ‘no mass gathering policy’ due to the coronavirus pandemic, some 150 Meranaws still gathered in a mosque in Baloi, Lanao del Norte for the Eidl Fitr prayer at 6am on Sunday (May 24).

 They were teenagers, middle-aged men and women who brought their children and infants with them, senior citizens and even persons with disability.

 They flocked to the mosque along a national highway at 6AM for the Eid al-Fitr prayers.

 No one was seen wearing facemasks, and because of the limited space inside the mosque, social distancing was not observed. Neither was there soap for handwashing, alcohol or disinfectant at the entrance for the worhsippers to use before going inside.

 Hadji Sirad Abdul-asis, Imam of Baloi mosque, said they still gathered for the prayer that ends the one-month Ramadan of Muslim despite the guideline because they are not afraid of the virus.

 Abdul-asis said they are aware of the order of the Grand Mufti on the suspension of the congregational prayers during the Ramadan and the Eid’l Fitr but they still opted to pursue the grand prayer because there has so far been no reported COVID-19 case in Baloi.

 “Nasubukan namin sa loob ng dalawang buwan, walang kahit isang namatay sa lugar namin dito sa Baloi. Ibig sabihin, ang nakakaalam lang sa mga nangyari ay si Allah SWT,” Abdul-asis said.

 (We survived for two months that no one died of the virus here in Baloi. That means only Allah SWT knows of what is happening.)

 However he noted that they reminded the sick faithful to just stay at home.

 “Dati pa naman, hindi na namin pinapayagan ang mga may sakit na pumunta pa sa mosque,” Abdul-asis added.

 (Even before, we did not allow sick people to enter the mosque.)

 Mayor Hanifa Ali in a phone interview said the local government unit of Baloi will invite on Monday (May 25) the chairperson of the barangay where the mosque is located.

 “We will investigate, we will call the attention of the barangay captain because we have an executive order reiterating the guidelines of the National Inter-Agency Task Force prohibiting any forms of social gathering,” Ali said.

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