POLICE and military officials in Central Luzon want to issue mandatory IDs to the region’s 26,000 Muslims as a way to flush out terrorists, in a move that a human rights group condemned Thursday as discriminatory.
Police Regional Office 3 Director Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino said the ID can help local Muslim communities identify suspicious individuals so they could be reported to the authorities.
Military and police officials said the practice of issuing IDs is being successfully implemented in Paniqui, Tarlac.
“This must also be the practice in the region not only to protect the civilian populace but also vital government installations against terrorism,” Aquino said.
But Human Rights Watch said the ID system would discriminate against Muslims based on religion, which is prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights treaties to which the Philippines is a party.
“The IDs could also violate the rights to equal protection of the law, freedom of movement, and other basic rights,” said Carlos Conde, Philippine researcher for Human Rights Watch.
Conde said the ID proposal stems from the ongoing fighting in Marawi City in Mindanao between government troops and ISIS-linked Maute-Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
In June President Rodrigo Duterte had lambasted Muslim leaders in Marawi City and elsewhere in Mindanao for allegedly allowing the Islamist fighters to enter the city “and cause trouble.”
But 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.
Conde said it is irrelevant from a rights perspective that during the consultation, some Muslim leaders did not object outright to the proposal.
“Since Duterte declared martial law throughout Mindanao on May 23, there have been reports of discrimination against Muslims. ID requirements for Muslims should be rejected outright,” said Conde.
Aquino said the ID proposal was posed during a dialogue in San Fernando, Pampanga, attended by 70 Muslims and military and police officials as a way of distinguishing long-time residents from new arrivals who could be terrorists.
Aquino and Brig. Gen. David Diciano, acting commander of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, who presided over the dialogue, said that under the scheme, the ID cards must be signed by the local chief of police and government units for “easy, proper and efficient authorization.”
Aquino said the wearing of ID cars “of our Muslim brothers and sisters is not a sign of moral degradation but rather to deepen the unity, understanding and cooperation among us.”
The police chief said the holding of the peace and progress dialogue was not a sign of an impending terrorist treat in Central Luzon, but rather “stepping up with the situation to prevent any untoward incidents in the future.”
Aquino requested the full support of the Muslim leaders in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, criminality, and terrorism by reporting any suspicious personalities to the nearest local police and local government offices for immediate action. With PNA
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.