MANILA, Philippines - Three Muslim women are manning three Shar'iah Circuit Courts in Mindanao.
These are Judge Nurkarhati Sahibil, Shar'iah Circuit Court, Parang,Sulu; Judge Remee S. Tanjili, 6th Shar'iah Circuit Court, Luuk, Sulu; and Judge Sirikit Berua, Shar'iah Circuit Court, Wao, Lanao del Sur.
In the rest of the active Shar'iah judges, 26 are men.
Shar'iah Courts in the Philippines were established under the Code of Muslim Laws of the Philippines, or Presidential Decree 1083, issued on Feb. 4, 1977.
There are five Shar'iah District Courts and 51 Shar'iah Circuit Courts. So far, only 29 Shar'iah Circuit Courts have judges.
The information came from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), headed by Secretary Mehol K. Sadain.
NCMF's Bureau of Muslim Cultural Affairs (BMCA), under Director Sultan Masiding Salic, handles the annual Shar'iah training seminars as part of the government's Shar'iah Development Program.
"It is considered as an outcome of the reform strategies the Philippine National Government has pursued in response to the socio-political dilemma confronting the Muslim communities in the Philippines," an NCMF-BMCA report said.
In the previous administration, the government peace panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was directed "to operationalize the Shar'iah Courts in the country to solve conflicts among Muslims."
The Muslim community is awaiting new Shar'iah court judges to be appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino III from the pool of 429 Shar'iah counselors who passed the Special Shar'iah Bar Examinations conducted by the Supreme Court.
Muslims living in the Visayas and Luzon have also been clamoring for Shar'iah courts because they have to go to Mindanao every time they have dealings or needs for the Islamic courts.