The Philippines and the push for more Sharia courts

Even though, as this story notes, the last time the Filipino government conceded to sharia law, the more violence came out of it. “Creation of more Shariah courts across the country pushed Philippine lawmaker tables bill for more Sharia courts,” by Gilbert Felongco.

Manila: A southern Philippines lawmaker is pushing for the creation of more Sharia courts in the country. Representative Pax Mangundatu believes the move will help Filipino Muslims attain more access to legal services.

Mangundatu, of the first Congressional District of Sultan Kudarat province, said although government permitted Sharia courts, the number of these tribunals were mainly concentrated in the areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“The Sharia courts are only in limited areas of Mindanao and the ARMM. This situation is inconvenient and difficult for Filipino Muslims in solving their personal legal problems,” the lawmaker said.

The areas included under the ARMM are the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Basilan, Sharif Kabunsuan and Tawi-Tawi. They also include the cities of Basilan and Marawi.

To address Filipinos Muslims’ lack of access to legal services in areas within the ARMM and even those outside the autonomous region, Mangandatu tabled House Bill 6,337.

The bill aims to strengthen the Sharia district court system by establishing Sharia courts in areas where there are large concentrations of Filipino Muslims.

In proposing the creation of a system of Sharia courts, Mangandatu cited Presidential Decree 1,083.

Presidential Decree 1,083 stipulates that the State shall consider the custom, traditions, belief and interest of Filipino Muslims in implementation of government policies.

According to the government, there are an estimated eight million Muslims out of a population of 85 million people.

Mangundatu said his proposals on the creation of Sharia courts aim to help Filipino Muslims resolve their legal conflicts in relation to their distinct personal and family laws.

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