The Philippine capital’s top official, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, on Monday bared his plans to construct an Islamic cemetery in the city.
He said this as he welcomed Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the Philippines, Dr. Abdullah Al Bussairy, at the city hall.
“We are now about to build the first Islamic cemetery. Because we have Chinese cemetery. We have Filipino cemetery. How come we don’t have an Islamic cemetery?” Moreno told Al Bussairy during a livestream video of the courtesy call.
Moreno said the Muslim community ended up burying their loved ones in nearby cities or provinces.
“So I felt bad for our people,” the mayor said. “They are living already in our community, in our city. Why not come up with (a cemetery).”
Moreno said he already talked to city officials to look for a lot inside the Manila South “dedicated only for our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
He said they even got a Muslim teacher or leader to shed light on the Islamic practices of burial.
Al Bussairy, who has been serving in the Philippines since 2015, said he came by to congratulate the newly elected official.
“It has been a challenging (first few) weeks,” Moreno replied, before talking about Manila’s history.
“It’s a very beautiful city also,” the ambassador said.
The two discussed the Arab community in Manila and Moreno’s travels to the Middle East.
Al-Bussairy told Moreno, who has never been to Saudia Arabia, that there are more than one million Filipinos working there.
“I hope it becomes two million,” Moreno said in jest. “To give opportunity to our skilled workers.”
“Manila is highly diverse. We have a Muslim community in Quiapo…but it is now extended to San Miguel, near Malacanang. And then we have in the Port Area, Baseco and Tondo. And we also have another one in San Andres, in the south of Manila,” the mayor said.