MANILA, SEPTEMBER 2, 2011 (STAR) By Sandy Araneta (Photo is loading... Children pose for photographers in Rizal Park following prayers yesterday to celebrate Eid’l Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Bernardo Batuigas)

- Muslims gathered yesterday in mosques and parks all over Metro Manila to observe the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The Manila Police District (MPD) estimated the crowd gathered at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park at around 20,000, while thousands more gathered at the Golden Mosque and Plaza Miranda in Quiapo.

Thousands also gathered at the Quezon Memorial Circle and Taguig as early as Monday evening. They ended their celebration at around 6 a.m. yesterday.

Muslim religious leaders earlier vowed that the celebration would not include any political calls but only religious prayers.

Imam Council of the Philippines

Chairman Aleem Ahmad Bashir said his message (Khutba) was about peace, change and reconciliation.

He said around 20 percent of followers were former members of other religious affiliations.

In Cotabato, sporadic bursts of automatic gunfire crackled at dawn as revelers greeted the Eid’l Fitr, but it was not as noisy as in previous years and no one was reported killed or wounded.

Cotabato City police director Senior Supt. Roberto Badian said they will start today an inventory of ammunition kept by each policeman in the city and inspect their issued firearms to determine if they fired their guns.

“They will be punished if found to have used their guns in the Eid revelry,” Badian said.

PNP wishes for lasting peace in Mindanao

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Raul Bacalzo expressed optimism that violence in Mindanao will also end with the culmination of Eid’l Fitr.

“I have faith that this occasion of Eid’l Fitr will serve as another stepping-stone towards lasting peace and harmony among all Filipinos so that the nation can achieve prosperity and progress in the years ahead,” said Bacalzo.

He said the PNP fully supports the ongoing peace initiatives of the Philippine government with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and “share the confidence of our national leaders that this will eventually lead to a just and lasting peace that would address the root causes of poverty in predominantly Muslim areas in Mindanao.”

“We in the PNP are doing our share in strengthening the fabric of unity among Muslims and Christians in our society.”

Bacalzo said putting an end to violence and bloodshed would be a way towards lasting peace in Mindanao, and government can harness all its resources towards the socio-economic development of all Muslim areas.

During the peace negotiation, he said all police offices and units in the Muslim areas of Mindanao and elsewhere will continue to protect all the people and the communities from criminal elements and to uphold law and order.

“Eid’l Fitr reminds us not of our differences, but of the values and beliefs that serve to enrich our lives and culture,” he said. – John Unson, Cecille Suerte Felipe

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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