Jameo Mindanao Al-Islamie (Grand Mosque) in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur (Photo courtesy of TFBM)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – A key religious leader in Marawi City issued a statement of condemnation and withdrawal of support from Sen. Robinhood Padilla, who recently filed a bill on same-sex union.

Alim Abdulmajeed Djamla, the Grand Imam of the Jameo Mindanao Al Islamie (Marawi Grand Mosque), said Padilla’s measure “is tantamount to disbelief (kufr) which is outside the creed of Islam.”

Padilla has filed Senate Bill 449 or the Civil Unions Act, to institutionalize civil partnerships for same-sex couples and anti-discrimination protection for such unions.

“I regret to inform all Muslims in general and the Muslims in the Philippines that I and those who follow me have withdrawn our support for Senator Robin Padilla and strongly condemn his sponsorship of Same-Sex Marriage Bill in the Senate,” read Djamla’s statement posted on social media over the weekend. “This is based on the doctrine that same-sex marriage is considered immoral by all religions and is forbidden (Haram) under Islamic law.”

Padilla declined to counter the "reminders" of some Muslim groups regarding his bill.

"Sila po ang nakakaalam ng tama at mali sa ating pananampalataya. Kailanman man po hindi ko sasalungatin ang kanilang mga pahayag ng pagtutuwid. Bagkus nagpapasalamat po ako sa kanilang mga paalala at pahayag. Alhamdulillah jazakum allah khayran (They know what is right and wrong in our faith. I will not go against their reminders. Instead, I am thankful to them for it. Thank, God. May Allah reward you)," he said in a statement on Sunday, 

Padilla said his measure is open for discussions and all concerned groups can air their sides during hearings.

"Bilang senador ng buong bansa na kanilang pinagkatiwalaan na iboto rin at lapitan, kailangan ko ito aksyunan nang walang drama. Malinaw po sa aking mandato na wala akong pipiliin na panigan o pakinggan (As senator of the whole nation, I need to act on this, without drama. My mandate is clear -- I cannot favor anyone)," Padilla posted on Facebook after learning of the opposition to his bill.

"Ang lahat ay pantay-pantay. Ang lahat ay may puwang sa ating saligang batas. Ang panukala po na ito ay dadaan sa napakahabang proseso ng pagdinig kaya't ano man po ang inyong hinaing, mainam po na ihanda ang sarili at inyong organisasyon at makiisa po sa debate sa pagdinig nito (We are all equal. All have rights under our constitution. My bill will go through the long process of hearings, so if you have concerns about it, it will be best for you and your groups to take part in the debates on the proposed measure)," he added.

Padilla's bill allows same-sex couples to obtain a valid union license and grants inheritance and adoption rights.

In his explanatory note, Padilla said human rights and international legal standards must be given to same-sex couples.

"While the 1987 Constitution does not explicitly mention sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics, it does not prohibit or exclude civil partnership of unions of same-sex couples," Padilla's explanatory note said.

He urged the public to read the bill’s contents first before passing judgment.

"Ang lahat po ay iniimbitahan na basahin ng detalyado ang panukalang batas upang mas makalahok sa talakayan patungkol dito. Huwag na muna po tayo maghusga. Masyado pa po maaga para magkaroon ng judge (All are invited to read the contents of this bill and take part in a healthy discussion. Let us not judge. It is too early to have judges)," he said.

Pro, anti

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said in a radio interview on Sunday that the Philippines may not be ready yet for a same-sex union.

Like Pimentel, Senator Joel Villanueva believes marriage should be between a man and a woman only.

“Personally, we can agree to support civil unions only for as long as they are called and regarded as what they are -- civil unions -- but not marriage especially in the religious sense,” Villanueva said in a statement on Friday.

Senator Risa Hontiveros said she is thrilled to have an ally in Padilla after hearing about the controversial bill.

"I look forward to working with him in championing equality and LGBTQIA+ rights on the Senate floor," Hontiveros said in a recent statement.

LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (one's sexual or gender identity), intersex, and asexual/aromantic/agender

In the 14th Congress, the late senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago's bill that sought to allow same-sex marriages to be officiated abroad without violating the Family Code lasted until the committee level only.

Muslim community

Just last week, Padilla filed a resolution for the creation of a compensation board that would process claims of the victims of the 2017 Marawi siege so “they can finally return to and rebuild their homes after suffering as internally displaced persons for half a decade.”

Shortly after the siege, Padilla donated PHP5 million for the psychosocial therapy of children and another PHP5 million worth of relief goods for the evacuees.

The 52-year-old Padilla was convicted of illegal possession of firearms in 1994 and converted from Jehovah’s Witness to Islam while inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. 

He was granted conditional pardon by the late President Fidel V. Ramos in April 1998 and absolute pardon by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. (PNA)