To avoid discriminating against people based on religion, Senator Leila M. de Lima has warned her colleagues in the Senate against the government's proposal imposing identification cards for Muslim Filipinos in Central Luzon.
In filing Senate Resolution (SR) No. 435, De Lima called for an inquiry into the suggestion of Local Government Units and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to issue special IDs for Muslims as a counter-terrorism measure.
"Implementing an ID system that singles out Islamic faithful promotes discrimination towards our Muslim brothers and sisters," she said.
"While the presence of terrorist groups in the Philippines posits a threat to national security, policies emanating from such situation should not be used as justification to jeopardize equal protection of law, which the Constitution affords all citizens," she added.
Local authorities in Central Luzon were mulling over an ID system for Muslims to help law enforcers identify people with ties to terrorists in the provinces of Pampanga, Bataan, Bulacan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, and Aurora.
PNP Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino said the ID system for Muslims has in fact been working well in Paniqui town, with the identification cards bearing the signatures of police and local government officials.
Note that thousands of people fled their homes in Marawi and dispersed to various parts of the country since clashes between government forces and ISIS-inspired Maute group ensued, which prompted President Duterte to place the entire region of Mindanao under martial law last May 23.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman criticized the proposed ID system which he said could set a dangerous precedent and ignite anger among young Muslims who are the primary target for recruitment of extremist group like Maute.
Now to ensure that any efforts to counter terrorism in the country will not violate a person's constitutional rights, De Lima said it is important for the government to be "critical" of the special ID system for Muslims and review it.
"It is the duty of government to stand critical of selective measures that can set a precedent for the deterrence of freedom of movement and exercise of faith, and instead promote conflict-sensitive and peace promoting mechanisms that encourage mutual respect," she said.
In its 35th sessions, the United Nations Human Rights Council reaffirmed that "terrorism and violent extremism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization, or ethnic group."
Martial law in Mindanao is extended until Dec. 31 this year after Duterte got the approval of the Upper and Lower Chambers of Congress to extend it.
De Lima, who has also been very vocal against the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, is currently detained in the PNP Headquarters, Camp Crame, Quezon City for trumped-up drug charges fabricated by the Duterte administration.
Source: Senate of the Philippines