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Tolentino hails additional Shari’a courts as a win for Filipino Muslims

SENATOR Francis Tolentino, the new Senate majority floor leader, is celebrating the passage of his bill establishing additional Shari’a courts nationwide.

Seen as a landmark move to decongest existing courts and improve access to justice, the bill was unanimously passed in April and awaits final approval.

Tolentino’s Senate Bill 2594 aims to establish three additional Shari’a Judicial Districts and 12 Shari’a Circuit Courts in key regions of the country. 

 “Muslim Filipinos are now one step closer to having better access to the specialized knowledge and expertise of Shari’a judges promoting fair and equal treatment of Muslims under the law,” Tolentino stated.

Tolentino’s bill seeks to revise Presidential Decree 1083 or the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines. Shari’a courts are inside the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or BARMM.

 The bill seeks to establish a 6th Shari’a Judicial District with five Shari’a Circuit Courts. This will cover Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Occidental, Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin, and the provinces under Regions 11 and 12.

 A proposed 7th Shari’a Judicial District with three Shari’a Circuit Courts will oversee cases from Regions 6, 7, and 8. The Cordillera Autonomous Region, Regions 1 to 4-A, and the National Capital Region will be under the proposed 8th Shari’a Judicial District based in the City of Manila. The cities of Davao and Cebu will also have their Shari’a Circuit Courts.

“The goal of promoting inclusive, impartial, speedy, and quality justice to all regardless of the people’s geographic location will soon come to fruition for our Muslim brothers,” Tolentino stated.

The additional Shari’a courts will handle cases exclusively dealing with Islamic laws, it will not cover criminal cases.

The Supreme Court has expressed its full support for Tolentino’s bill.



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