TARLAC: The Human Rights Watch (HRW) tagged as “discriminatory” the government’s proposal to impose the mandatory identification card system in Central Luzon (CL) as a counter-terrorism initiative.
This came to fore after authorities allegedly “threatened” to further single out Muslims as part of official counter-terrorism efforts in the light of the ongoing war against Islamic State-linked Maute Group in Marawi City.
The region is home to about 26,000 Muslims.
In an e-mail message, HRW researcher for Asia Division Carlos Conde said Supt. Aaron Aquino, police regional director, sought to justify the Muslim-only ID as means to “identify and weed out undesirable individuals and terrorists.”
This has reference to the best practice of Paniqui town here where Muslim-only ID card system is being imposed and authorities were urged to replicate the practice throughout Central Luzon’s seven provinces.
Tarlac City also implements a similar scheme, which was started barely two weeks ago by Mayor Cristy Angeles.
Conde, however, said the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights treaties, to which the Philippines is a party, prohibit discrimination based on religion, in this case an ID system.
“The IDs could also violate the rights to equal protection of the law, freedom of movement and other basic rights,” he added.
“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,” Conde said.
He noted that it is irrelevant from a rights perspective that, during the consultation, some Muslim leaders did not object outright to the proposal.
“Since [President Rodrigo] 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,” Conde said.