MANILA, Philippines – The governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Muslim leaders criticized the proposal to replicate in Central Luzon the reported Muslim-only ID system of Paniqui town in Tarlac.
In a statement on Saturday, July 9, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said his region "expresses alarm over reports" that the Paniqui local government is implementing a Muslim-only ID system.
"We believe this policy clearly discriminates against the believers of Islam and could set a dangerous precedent. It could also ignite anger among young Muslims who are the primary target for recruitment of extremist groups," Hataman said.
"If the requirement is security related, the ID system should be applied to every resident of the community, to every Filipino, not just Muslims," he added.
In an interview with reporters on Friday, July 8, Imam Council of the Philippines president Ebra Moxsir also said the proposed Muslim-only ID is saddening.
Moxsir, 51, leads around 1,000 imams or Muslim clerics in the Imam Council of the Philippines, out of around 2,000 to 3,000 imams nationwide. He has also been a chaplain at the Philippine National Police for the past 21 years.
Speaking after the launch of the Pasa Lord interfaith prayer movement on Friday, Moxsir explained that their council supports an ID system if it will be implemented for all, not only for Muslims.
"Pero kung halimbawa ma-single out ang ating mga brother Muslim, nalulungkot po ang mga karamihan po (But if, for example, our brother Muslims will be singled out, majority would be sad)," he said.
"Bakit po ang mga Muslim lang? Ang mga Muslim ba, 'yun lang ang extremist (Why just the Muslims. Are only the Muslims the extremists?)" Moxsir asked.
Violation of human rights
Shariah lawyer Harun Ali, secretary general of the Imam Council of the Philippines, pointed out that the proposed Muslim-only ID "is actually a violation of human rights."
In an interview with Rappler on Friday, the 43-year-old lawyer explained that the proposal "is singling out the Muslims, because it means the Muslims are terrorists."
"If the government is only requiring Muslims to have an ID, that is unfair, unequal, an oppression, and contrary to the principle of equality and fairness. It should be imposed upon all Filipino people because we are one Filipino people and we should be united as one," Ali said.
Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV on Saturday also released a statement on the issue, pushing for a unified ID system through his proposed Filipino Identification System Act.
Aquino said an ID system should be used to promote safety and improve government services, not "to encourage discrimination."
"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. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.