MANILA, Philippines -- The House of Representatives on Monday approved a bill creating the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, which is intended to strengthen the democratic rights of Muslims in the country.
House Bill 4253 will replace the Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA), established in 1987 under the Office of the President, with the new commission.
The OMA was an agency mandated to ?uplift and improve the conditions of the Muslim Filipinos. It is also the main institution provided under the Philippine government tasked to address the various issues facing Muslim Communities.?
House Speaker Prospero Nograles, one of the bill?s signatories, said the new commission, on the other hand, would integrate Muslim Filipinos in ?mainstream development.?
?Muslim Filipinos have the right to plot their own destiny within the framework of the Philippine Constitution...it is our constitutional duty to ensure the rights and well-being of our Muslim brothers,? Nograles said.
Under the bill, the new commission will remain under the Office of the President and have the same duties and responsibilities as the OMA.
But it will also have added responsibilities, including providing legal and technical services for the survey, adjudication, tilling, and development of Muslim Filipino ancestral lands.
The new commission will also ?advise the President in the formulation, coordination, implementation, and monitoring of policies, plans, programs, and projects affecting Muslim Filipino communities,? Nograles said.
The new commission?s other task include: establishing a criteria for allocating additional resources for education, economic and cultural development programs; issuing certificates of ancestral land domains/title; monitoring and evaluating all existing policies and development programs of the government for the uplifting of the lives of Muslim Filipinos; and, the undertaking of studies and the maintenance of ethnographic research centers and museums on the cultures and institutions of Muslim Filipinos for policy formation.
Other signatories of the bill include Deputy Speaker and Maguindanao Representative Simeon Datumanong, Parañaque 2nd district Representative Roilo Golez, and Albay Representative Edcel Lagman.
The bill would now be transmitted to the Senate, Nograles said.