End Muslim discrimination: Robin Padilla pushes for Nat’l Hijab Day
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Robin Padilla wants to end discrimination against Muslims and pass the National Hijab Day bill.
During Thursday’s hearing of the Senate committee on cultural communities and Muslim affairs, Senate Bill Nos. 1272 and 805, both seeking a National Hijab Day every February 1, were deliberated.
“Itong panukala ay pagkilala sa kalayaan ng mga kababaihang Muslim na magsuot ng belo bilang bahagi ng kanilang paniniwala,” Padilla, committee chairperson, said.
(This proposal is a recognition of the freedom of Muslim women to wear a veil as part of their belief.)
“Malinaw po ang ating tunguhin: Kung maisasabatas at mawawaksi natin ang ‘stereotyping’ o maling representasyon at diskriminasyon sa tradisyon at paniniwala ng mga babaeng Muslim, ito rin po ay pagsulong ng pagkakaisa at simbolo ng kapayapaan,” he added.
(Our goal is clear: If we can make it a law and end “stereotyping” or wrong representation and discrimination in the tradition and belief of Muslim women, this is also pushing for unity and peace.)
According to Padilla, the proposal does not aim to be religious but to spread awareness of the hijab and Muslim beliefs.
“Kailangan sana maintindihan din ako ng mga kapatid natin na kung ‘yung ginawa naming bill hindi po siya masyadong religious, declaration po siya,” he pointed out.
(I hope people will understand that my proposed bill is not a religious act but a declaration.)
Khadija Center for Muslim Studies chairperson Maisara Latiph echoed Padilla’s remark, saying they want to achieve equality.
“Mr. Chair, ang naisip ko po kanina nung sinasabi nating limitasyon ng ating panukalang batas, ito po ay isang pambansang kampanya. Hindi po ito religious, kundi isa lang pong paggugunita,” Latiph said.
(Mr. Chair, what I thought of when you were saying the limitations of the bill, is this is a national campaign. This is not a religious activity but a commemoration.)
“Ang atin pong didiinan ay yung pagkapantay-pantay at ang atin pong didiinan dito ay respect po at tolerance,” she added.
(We will stress equality, respect, and tolerance.)
Meanwhile, Latiph argued that Section 10 of Padilla’s Senate Bill No. 233 or the Anti-Discrimination Act, which according to her is also applicable to Muslim women who wear hijab, should remove the provision that imposes penalties and fines on violators committing acts of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, or “being formerly incarcerated.”
Under this Senate bill, violators may be penalized from P100,000 up to P1 million, or face imprisonment of 6 to 8 years.
“Ito po siguro, sir, hindi na natin dapat i-mention doon sa batas dahil ma-co-complicate po ang ating panukala. Isa lang naman po ang hinihiling natin, pambansang kampanya lamang. Hindi naman po dapat maging substantive law na kung saan mayroong mga substantive provisions na mag-pe-penalize ng mga acts or omissions, penal law po ‘yun, hindi na po ‘yun sakop ng declaration,” Latiph said during the committee on cultural communities and Muslim affairs hearing.
(We must not mention it in the law as it will complicate our proposal. What we want is a national campaign. There’s no need for a substantive law where there are substantive provisions penalizing acts or omissions because that’s already penal law, it’s not included in the declaration.)
“Tama po kayo, huwag na po natin i-complicate,” she added.
(You’re right, sir, let’s not make it complicated.)
Based on government data, only 11 percent of the country’s population is Muslim. –with reports from Christian Paul Dela Cruz and Catherine Dabu, INQUIRER.net trainees
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