ARMM opposes Muslim-only ID scheme, decries discrimination

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(FILE PHOTO) Filipino Muslims perform 'Tarawih' prayer as they start the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at the Pink Mosque in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, Philippines.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 8) — Some local government officials in Mindanao have aired their grievances over the proposed identification card system exclusively for Muslims.

Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman said it is a form of discrimination.

"We believe this policy clearly discriminates against the believers of Islam and could set a dangerous precedent," Hataman said in a statement on Saturday.

Zia Alonto Adiong, head of the Marawi Crisis Management Committee, in a separate press briefing said it 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.

Regional police officials in central Luzon, home to over 25,000 Muslims, said they were considering an ID system only for Muslims to identify alleged terror personalities in a bid to avoid spillover of the Marawi crisis.

Clashes between government forces and terrorist groups in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire island region of Mindanao under martial law on May 23.

Could fan anger

The ID system for Muslims is reportedly being implemented now in Paniqui town in the province of Tarlac, Hataman said.

But Hataman said it could just make matters worse, as it could "ignite anger among young Muslims who are the primary target for recruitment of extremist groups," he added.

"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.

He called instead for a dialogue with security officials to look into the constitutionality and propriety of the ID system.

Against the law

Senators Bam Aquino and Richard Gordon are also against the measure.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday, Gordon said it is against the law.

Aquino, who filed Senate Bill 917 or the Filipino Identification System Act, said the ID system should be used to better provide government service for Filipinos, and not to encourage discrimination. The House of Representatives' Committee on Population passed on May 10 this year a counterpart measure for a national ID.

"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.

Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution states: "The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights."

Human Rights Watch was also quick to condemn the central Luzon police officials' proposal, saying that it "should be rejected outright."

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos and Regine Cabato contributed to this report.