MANILA – Deputy Minority Leader Mujiv Hataman on Thursday urged the setting up of prayer rooms in public and private establishments in view of the growing number of Filipino Muslims all over the country.
Hataman introduced House Bill (HB) No. 7117 mandating to establish Muslim prayer rooms in government buildings, hospitals and military camps, including privately owned establishments such as malls, factories and hospitals.
“Malaki ang populasyon ng mga Muslim hindi lang sa Mindanao kundi sa buong Pilipinas. Limang beses kami magdasal sa isang araw, at kadalasan challenge ang paghahanap ng lugar para dito (There is a large population of Muslim not only in Mindanao, but in all over the Philippines. We pray 5 times a day, and it’s often a challenge to find a place for it),” he said.
Hataman, the Basilan lone district solon, said the Muslim population, whose numbers range from 6 million to as high as 12 million depending on the source of data, forms a huge and significant part of the Filipino citizenry.
“Ang pagdarasal ay mahalaga sa lahat ng relihiyon. Sa aming mga Muslim, ginagawa namin ito limang beses sa isang araw, nasaan man kami abutan. Kaya mahalaga na laging may lugar kung saan pwedeng magdasal ang mga kapatid nating Muslim (Praying is important among all religions. To us, Muslims, we do it 5 times in a day, no matter where we are. So it is important to have a proper place where our Muslim brothers can pray),” said Hataman, a former governor of the now-defunct ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao).
HB 7117 mandates that a prayer room be established in places clearly enumerated as hospitals, military camps, malls, factories and government buildings and facilities. The number of prayer rooms, however, can be increased as the need arises, which should be determined by the implementing agency of the law – the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
“As a predominantly Catholic country, many establishments and buildings – be it government-owned, private or for the benefit of the public – have chapels or prayer rooms that cater to the Catholic faithful. In hospitals, government buildings or even malls, there are always areas reserved for their worship,” the bill read.
“The Philippines’ Muslim population… forms a huge and significant part of our citizenry. It is therefore imperative for the free exercise of their Islamic faith that prayer rooms be also made available to them in government institutions and private establishments intended for public use,” it added.
Hataman said there are already prayer rooms in some establishments and malls all over the country.
“Pero hindi lahat ay mayroon. Imbes na limitahan natin ang mga lugar na maaaring puntahan ng ating kapatid na Muslim, gawin nating mas accessible ang pagdarasal bilang bahagi ng kalayaan sa pagpapahayag ng aming pananampalataya (But not all [establishments] do have. Instead of limiting places that can be visited by our brother/sister Muslims, let’s make praying more accessible as part of our freedom of expression and religion),” Hataman said. (PNA)