Ateneo​’s Tabora says academe should help address historical injustices to Muslims

Jun. 22, 2017

Ateneo de Davao University President Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ calls on the public to fight for religious freedom during a speech he delivered before church leaders, members of the academe, peace advocates and human rights activists at the school’s Finster Hall in Davao City on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (Photo by Kilab Multimedia)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Ateneo De Davao University school president Fr. Joel Tabora is calling on the academe to do a “​serious work”​ in addressing the historical injustices against the Bangsamoro.

During a forum hosted by the ADDU where the results of the three-day humanitarian mission in Marawi City were presented, Tabora said the academe has a role to make the public understand the root cause of the historical injustice to understand what is happening in Marawi City.

“I really think we have to do much more work to be able to address the historical injustices that were done to the Filipino Muslims over centuries, to try to understand what the root of the historical injustices were and to try to understand even the adverse effect that the church or the churches have in bringing about injustice to the Muslim peoples,” Tabora said during his speech before peace advocates, students, church leaders, academic sector and human rights activists at the Finster Hall on Wednesday, June 21.

He added: “We have, I think, to do serious research and study into these historical injustices that go back for centuries in order to be able to understand the situation that we have today.”

He said students of Mindanao should understand what the historical injustices were done to the Muslim Filipinos so they could take a “proactive role” in explaining it to other Filipinos who do not understand the situation of the Bangsamoro.

He said in the past preaching of the church there was also a teaching which says “if you are not a Christian you are not saved , you cannot be saved.”

“If you are not a Christian therefore you are not really a human , if you are not a Christian therefore you are second class human and therefore you are second class Filipino – that’s part of the historical injustice that we have all been part of and have played in the situation,” Tabora said.

He said a similar type of preaching is carried out by some subset of the Muslims in the Philippines which claims sole right to truth.

He said, “A group of Muslims, a subset of Muslims, which does not, enjoy overall acceptance by the Muslims, they are saying: ‘We have the truth, only we have the truth. We are the true Islam, we are the true access to Allah, we and only we not you. And if you are Shia, if you are Sunni, not like us, if you are Sufi, not like us, if you do not agree with us, I have the right to kill you. I have the right to bring violence on you. I have the right to hurt you, I have the right to bomb you’.”

Tabora said the public should befriend “friendly Muslims” and should not put labels on them.

“Let’s not call them moderate, they are good people. Befriend them,” he added.

Tabora said the academe and various churches should first recognize the problem “to make reparation for this in the Philippine situation.”

Tabora also said the academe should help bring people together in responding to the crisis in Marawi which entered on its 31st day today.

“The first persons that we want to respond to are the victims of violence, whether they are Maute or whether they are Muslim or Christians. If they are victims of violence I believe that as Christians we have duty to respond,” he said.

He also called on the academe to understand its role in peace making. He said the Bangsamoro should be entrusted with governing themselves as proposed under the new Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will create the new political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission has recorded a total of 325,294 internally displaced persons in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Davao del Sur following the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. (

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