Bill seeks more Shari’ah Courts

(Photo from Robin Padilla Facebook Page)

Senator Robinhood Padilla has filed Senate Bill 2215 pushing for the establishment of additional Shari’ah Courts in the country to make an “equitable and speedy justice system” become accessible to more Muslim Filipinos.

SB 2215 proposed amendments to Presidential Decree 1083, citing the 1987 Constitution’s provision that the “State shall recognize, respect and protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions and institutions.”

“This is to ensure that our Muslim brothers and sisters across the archipelago will have better access to the specialized knowledge and expertise of Shari’ah judges, promoting fair and equal treatment of Muslims under the law, regardless of their geographic location,” Padilla told reporters on Saturday.

Padilla also stressed the growing number of Muslim Filipinos and the increasing rate of migration across the country “calls for the need to establish additional justice districts” to resolve disputes involving Muslim customary and personal laws.

Under the proposed measure, three Shari’ah districts shall be established in addition to five existing district courts, which have territorial jurisdiction only over the Mindanao areas including in Sulu; Tawi-Tawi; Basilan, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur and Dipolog, Pagadian, and Zamboanga Cities; Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur and Iligan and Marawi Cities; and Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City.

The bill pushed for the sixth district for Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Camiguin, Cagayan de Oro City and provinces in Davao Region and Caraga.

Seventh district for provinces within Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and Mimaropa; while the eighth district shall be built within Metro Manila Cordillera, and Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Bicol Region.

The bill also seeks for the establishment of permanent stations should the three new districts will be established in Davao City (sixth district); Cebu City (seventh district); and Manila City (eighth district).

So far, the existing permanent stations are in Jolo, Sulu; Bongao, Tawi-Tawi; Zamboanga City; Marawi City; and Cotabato City. These Shari’ah courts are under the supervision of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

Shari’ah District Court is roughly equivalent to the Regional Trial Court in the regular and secular Philippine court system — which is primarily bound by Islamic laws for the protection of life, property and mind of Muslim Filipinos.

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