Central Luzon authorities mull over ID system for Muslims

PAMPANGA, Philippines – Should Muslims living in Central Luzon be issued identification cards to ensure no sympathizers of Islamic State and Muslim terror groups could penetrate the region? 

This was among the important issues discussed by Central Luzon police, military, and political leaders and about 200 Muslim religious and community leaders in the region at the provincial capitol building here on Monday, July 4.

The consultation came as fightings between government forces and local terrorist groups in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, entered its 7h week, and the Supreme Court upheld President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao because of the conflict.

The President has twice blamed residents of Marawi for allowing ISIS-sympathizers to enter and stay in their area. 

Chief Superintendent Aaron Aquino, Police Regional Office 3 director, said an ID system for Muslims may help authorities and Muslim community leaders 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 said the ID system for Muslims in Paniqui town has been working very well. The identification cards, he said, bear the signatures of police and local government officials.

Photo courtesy of PRO3-PIO

Muslims leaders did not oppose the idea outright, but said they would want to know more about Paniqui's experience and learn from it.

The dialogue with Muslim community and religious leaders was also attended by Brigadier Gen. David Diciano of the 7th Infantry Division and members of the Regional Joint Public Safety Coordinating Committee (RJPSCC).

Aquino said the dialogue was aimed at promoting greater understanding and mutual respect and cooperation between the RJPSCC and the Muslim communities in the region.

The RJPSCC is composed of police, military and local government officials that makes and implement plans and actions to ensure peace and order and combat criminality and terrorism.

“We are doing a multi-sectoral approach in addressing this issue and I am glad that our Muslim brothers have signified their intention to cooperate with us. I enjoin everyone to take an active effort and participate in our campaign against all forms of lawlessness and I call out for your dynamic support in order to attain our common endeavor of preserving peace and order not just within Region 3 but our whole country as well,” Aquino said.

Several thousands of Muslims, including Maranao sidewalk vendors and street-begging Badjaos, are living in cities and many towns of the 6 provinces of Central Luzon. – Rappler.com