The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Saturday expressed alarm over a Tarlac town’s implementation of an exclusive identification card system for Muslims.
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said he would like to look into the “legality and propriety” of Paniqui town’s Muslim ID system, calling it a form of discrimination against Muslims.
“We believe this policy clearly discriminates against the believers of Islam and could set a dangerous precedent. It could also ignite anger among young Muslims who are the primary target for recruitment of extremist groups,” Hataman said in a statement.
He added that if the ID system is for security purposes, it should be required of all Filipinos and not just Muslims.
“We appreciate efforts outside Mindanao to fight terrorism, but, please, not through measures that could further worsen the current situation,” he said.
The Tarlac town's reported ID requirement for Muslims came as thousands fled long-drawn fighting in Marawi City, where government troops have been battling Islamic State-linked terrorists for nearly two months now.
A Muslim community in Batangas meanwhile recently gave out identification cards to its members to prevent extremists from joining their ranks.
More than 200,000 Marawi residents had to go through tight security and documentation as they evacuated from the conflict zone, with authorities checking if terrorists had blended in with fleeing civilians.
Firefights between state forces and the Maute group began on May 23, after an attempt to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.
As of Friday, the military said fatalities have reached 492, among them 366 terrorists, 87 government troops and 39 civilians.