By Corina Oliquino| FilAm Star Correspondent
MANILA — Muslims, senators, human rights group and the military expressed distaste in the Muslim ID card system implemented in certain provinces in Central Luzon.
In a Senate press release last July 9 Sen. Win Gatchalian called for the immediate scrapping of the Muslim ID card system being implemented by local government units (LGUs) in certain towns in Tarlac province to screen and monitor potential security threats due to the ongoing Marawi crisis.
“The Muslim ID card system is a discriminatory policy which violates the constitutional right of Muslim Filipinos to equal protection under the law. It should be scrapped immediately,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian also said that the Muslim ID system will only encourage hostility against Muslims in the affected areas and is also unfair and “patently illegal in manner, making Muslims susceptible to religious profiling by law enforcement authorities.”
“Terrorism is an unholy crime against humanity that has been denounced by every religion in the world, including Islam. Our law-abiding Muslim brothers and sisters are not the enemy, and I will oppose any policy which implies that they should be treated with suspicion merely because of their religious beliefs,” Gatchalian said, while also noting that law-abiding Muslims should not be subjected to unfair association to violent extremism “espoused” by Maute Group and other terrorist groups in Mindanao.
In another report by CNN Philippines, Senators Bam Aquino and Richard Gordon also expressed their opposition to the proposed ID system.
“Singling Muslims out, giving them an ID and branding them as a potential threat will not make our communities safer. It will only sow animosity,” Aquino said who is also the author of the Senate Bill No. 917 or the Filipino Identification System Act to better provide government services to Filipinos.
The report also mentions the planned ID system for Muslims by the regional police officials in Central Luzon, home of over 25,000 Muslims to identify and monitor for possible terror threats.
For Human Rights Watch (HRW) the proposed Muslim-only ID System proposal “should be rejected outright.”
In the same article by CNN Philippines, Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman said the Muslim-only ID is discriminating.
“We believe this policy clearly discriminates against the believers of Islam and could set a dangerous precedent,” Hataman said in a statement last July 8.
For Marawi Crisis Management Committee head Zia Alonto Adiong, the proposed Muslim ID system “is a clear case of Islamophobia or the fear or hatred of the Islamic religion and its followers.”
“As a civilized country, we must counter any discriminatory measure, and uphold the fundamental rights of the citizens of this country against any form of discrimination,” Adiong said in a press briefing according to CNN Philippines.
“If the requirement is security related, the ID system should be applied to every resident of the community, to every Filipino, not just Muslims,” Hataman said, calling for a dialogue with government and security officials to look into the legality and constitutionality of the proposed ID system.
National ID not Muslim ID
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on July 10 said that they agree on the discriminatory aspect of the Muslim-only ID system.
“Discriminatory ‘pag ikaw ay pumipili na ang hihingan mo lamang ng ID ay isang sector lamang ng lipunan,” AFP spokesperson Restituto Padilla told ABS-CBN News.
“Kaya’t ang aming iminungkahi, when we start checking identification of individuals, it should not be aimed at certain sectors of our society but it must be applicable to everyone,” Padilla added.
Padilla noted that the AFP is recommending the establishment of a national ID system instead, “because everyone…may look like an ordinary civilian but they may not be who they say they are.”
“So it’s good and it is logical to always check on the identities of everyone in your line that you are about to check,” Padilla said.
Padilla also appealed to the public, especially the non-Muslims in the Catholic majority Philippines to avoid confusing the Marawi crisis as a war of religion or has something to do with one like Islam.
“Hindi po lahat ng ating kapatid na Muslim ay bahagi nitong rebelyon. Iilan lang po ‘yan. Tulad ng sinabi natin noong nagsimula ang kaguluhan, this was not a fight between religions. Hindi po ito religious war,” Padilla said.
“Ito’y isang bakbakan laban po sa masasamang pwersa na nagdala ng kaguluhan sa Marawi. Period,” Padilla added.