DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is alarmed with the reports of the implementation of an identification system which only applies to Muslims in a town in the province of Tarlac.
In a statement on Sunday, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said they will look into the legality and the propriety of the ID system.
“We recommend for an urgent dialogue with the local government as well as national law enforcement and security officials. We believe this policy clearly discriminates against the believers of Islam and could set a dangerous precedent,” Hataman said.
The governor argued that if the law enforcers are concerned with security, the ID system should not just apply to Muslims but to all residents.
Hataman added that the ID system could provoke young Muslims who are the primary targets of recruitment by extremist groups.
“The great majority of Muslims in this country has been suffering from senseless acts of violence committed by extremists and terrorists. We appreciate efforts outside Mindanao to fight terrorism, but, please, not through measures that could further worsen the current situation,” he said.
In a report by Rappler on July 4, Chief Superintendent Aaron Aquino, Police Regional Office 3 director was quoted as saying that the Muslim-only ID system may help authorities to identify and weed out undesirable individuals and terrorists in the provinces of Pampanga, Bataan, Bulacan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and Aurora.
“This system is a good practice from Paniqui, Tarlac, and we want this to be replicated in all Muslim communities in the whole region for easy and efficient identification of our Muslim brothers and sisters,” he said.
Aquino also added that the ID system for Muslims in Paniqui town which bears the signature of the police and local government officials is working very well.
Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said the implementation of the Muslim-only ID is “locally-initiated.”
In a press conference in Marawi City on Thursday, Dela Rosa said the national PNP did not directed such implementation.
“They have their own Regional Peace and Order council, provincial peace and order council. Maybe that came up from their discussion,” he said.
However, the chief of the PNP said he does not see anything wrong in the implementation of the Muslim ID system.
He said evacuees who arrive in the town are documented as local government units are now “extra-cautious.”
But the Human Rights Watch called on Muslims to reject the proposal of implementing a Muslim-only ID system.
Carlos Conde, Researcher for Asia Division of HRW, said the ID system could violate the rights to equal protection of the law, freedom of movement and other basic rights.
“Requiring Muslim-only IDs in response to a perceived failure of Muslims to prevent Islamist fighters from entering Marawi City is a form of collective punishment,” he said. (davaotoday.com)