Court justice in Mindanao: BARMM officials seek to boost Bangsamoro judicial system

DAVAO CITY—The Bangsamoro government may call for a meeting between its Parliament and Congress to iron out coordination mechanism on the application of the justice system in the region for Filipino Muslims, which was granted authority to apply the Islamic Shari’ah court to settle disputes.

This developed as the subsector of the Bangsamoro Justice System under the Development Administration Committee (DACom) regional government cited the low number of cases filed in Shari’ah courts, which could be an indication of a dwindling public appreciation of these courts to resolve grievances.

This was brought up with the body was formulating the second Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) for 2023-2028. It convened on August 1.

Lawyer Omar Macapaar, Assistant Regional Prosecutor in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) emphasized that the issues and concerns in the Bangsamoro Justice System should not only focus on Shari’ah matters.

“There should be a Philippine Congress and Bangsamoro Parliament forum to discuss deeper the Bangsamoro Justice System and build a strong coordination mechanism for the justice system in the Bangsamoro region,” he said.

Lawyer Gapor Quituar of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) backed the suggestion, citing the necessity to involve several institutions outside BARMM with the Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) body as facilitator.

Quituar brought up the issue of statistics regarding the cases filed in the Shari’ah Courts and the problem on Shari’ah public awareness.

“The problem with the slow appointment of judges is on the issue of statistics. There is a small number of cases filed in the Shari’ah Courts, and people do not appreciate resolving cases in the Shariah Courts,” he pointed out.

Lawyer Yasmine A. Ibay-Laguialam of the Bangsamoro Attorney General’s Office (BAGO) also emphasized the importance of codifying the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms in resolving tribal disputes.

Among the highlights of the meeting included the implementation of the unimplemented institutional provisions as stated in the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which include appointment of Shari’ah judges, additional Shari’ah Courts in BARMM and expansion of Shariah courts outside BARMM.

The committee also discussed how to improve the coordination among the five pillars of the justice system such as law enforcement, prosecution, courts, correction, community awareness on basic human rights,  identifying priority legislative agenda and the necessity to establish separate custodial facilities for the Taazir (minor) cases.

The meeting was also attended by lawyers Abdulhamid A. Matao from the Office of the Regional Prosecutor and Hosni M. Masbud from the Office of the City Prosecutor of Lamitan City, Ebrahim T. Norodin from the Bangsamoro Darul Ifta (BDI), Ariel de Asis from the Office for Settler Communities (OSC), Noron S. Andan from the Office for Other Bangsamoro Communities (OOBC), Suraida P. Ampatuan from the Commission on Election (Comelec-BARMM), and  Jomar A. Abdulgafar from the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG).