THE House of Representatives approved on second reading a bill seeking to declare the first day of February of every year as National Hijab Day.
The primary objective of the measure is to promote and deepen understanding among non-Muslims about the wearing of hijab, a veil that covers the head and neck of a Muslim woman as an act of modesty and dignity.
House Bill (HB) No. 8590, which is principally authored by Lanao del Sur Rep. Mauyag Papandayan, Jr., substituted HB No. 968 authored by former Anak Mindanao party-list Rep. Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman.
It was referred to the plenary by the House Committee on Muslim Affairs chaired by Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sinsuat Sema and is also authored by AMIN party-list Reps. Amihilda Sangcopan and Makmod Mending, Jr., and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, Jr.
The bill also aims to encourage Muslim and non-Muslim women to wear the hijab and experience the virtue in wearing it.
Likewise, the bill intends to remove the misconception that wearing the hijab is a symbol of oppression, terrorism and lack of freedom. It intends to also stop discrimination against Muslim women, or “hijabi.”
Moreover, the bill seeks to promote appreciation for the diversity in expressing one's self and one’s faith and religion and to promote tolerance and acceptance of other lifestyles among Filipinos.
The bill declares that the State recognizes the role of women in nation-building, and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men.
The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination and or preference, shall be forever allowed.
Under the measure, the term “hijab” refers to a veil that covers the head and chest, which is particularly worn by a Muslim female beyond the age of puberty, in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family. It may further refer to any head, face, or body covering worn by Muslim women that conform to a certain standard of modesty.
The bill encourages government institutions, the private sector, and schools to observe the National Hijab Day in a manner that promotes understanding and awareness among their employees and students as to the objective of the campaign.
The bill mandates the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) to observe this event, being the lead agency in the promotion and raising consciousness about hijabis in the Philippines.
The NCMF shall conduct activities that aim to deepen understanding of the hijab as a lifestyle choice among women.
The NCMF may conduct fora, information dissemination campaign and other educational drive to effectively meet the objective of the Act.