HoR approves bill giving Muslim Filipinos better access to Shari’a court

Cotabato City– The House of Representatives on Monday approved on the third and final reading a measure seeking to provide Filipino Muslims better access to Shari’a courts through the electronic processing of routine documents in the said courts, a Philippine News Agency said in an online report Monday, September 18 .
House Bill (HB) 9045, which was the HoR-approved Bill 9045 with 251 votes, which allows the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) to process documents for and on behalf of Muslim Filipinos in Shari’a Courts.

The PNA report said that the proposed measure was amended for Republic Act 9997, or the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Act of 2009.

Under the measure, the NCMF and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in coordination with the Supreme Court, shall create a digital platform to allow the paperless filing of routine documents such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, death certificates, and the collection of appropriate court fees, the report also said.

HB 9045, however, states that any information or data obtained by the Commission and DICT through the digital platform “shall be treated with confidentiality, and the right to privacy of the parties shall be observed,” the report said.

“The Commission and the PSA shall prepare an annual report on the Muslim Filipino population. The annual report shall include the latest census of the population of Muslim Filipinos, Muslim births, marriages, and deaths for the year,” the bill read.

The NCMF’s Legal Affairs Bureau, meanwhile, is tasked to provide Muslim Filipinos with legal education and assistance in case of litigation involving their persons or interests; ensure that they have equitable access to Shari’a Courts; and facilitate the filing or submission of appropriate documents with the proper Shari’a Courts for Muslim Filipino litigants who are in a region where there is no existing Shari’a Court, the report further said.