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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pilar College Appeals For Moratorium From NCMF R9a on Info Release to Media Re Hijab Ban Issue

Qadarullaahi wa ma'shaa afaa alaa
The request for moratorium is being justified so that Pilar College"can dialogue and consult all the school's stakeholders namely: the students, teachers, staffs, parents, alumni. all RVM Administrators in the country and their higher superiors."
Evidently, the RVM institution of PILAR COLLEGE was lacking in prudence when it DID NOT at first "dialogue and consult all the school's stakeholders namely: the students, teachers, staffs, parents, alumni. all RVM Administrators in the country and their higher superiors"--- at the time that  Sr Nina Balbas, unilaterally, issued the HIJAB BAN policy and consequently violated the substantive right to worship and religious freedom of hijab-clad Muslim students and prospective enrollees in said institution,

Ironically, at this instance before taking action to right a wrong committed against Muslim women clad in hijab- exercising utmost caution, Pilar College now opted to "dialogue and consult all the school's stakeholders namely: the students, teachers, staffs, parents, alumni. all RVM Administrators in the country and their higher superiors." 

Pilar College now needs ample time to fulfill the right to worship and religious freedom of Muslim students-wearing-hijab; whereas, previously it just instantaneously violated religious freedom for expediency reasons.

Circumspection and probity may have come only after the hullabaloo wrought by the HIJAB BAN POLICY officially issued by Sr Nina Balbas; nevertheless to err is human, to forgive is divine.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER! Pilar College Appeals For Moratorium From NCMF R9a on Info Release to Media Re HIJAB BAN ISSUE.
Dialogue facilitated by Fr. Alberto Alejo, SJ of Ateneo de Zamboanga University Social Development Office. Joint Press Release signed 8 August 2012

by Mehol K. Sadain on Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 10:08am ·
[I am happy that Pilar College has agreed to a dialogue which will take place this morning. In my absence, NCMF Zamboanga City Actg. Regional Director DENNISON ABIDIN will attend. I have asked him to deliver the message that follows. Let us all hope for the best.]

Secretary, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos
August 7, 2012

To the dialogue participants, please accept my, and the Commission’s greetings of peace this holy month of Ramadan. As-salaamu alaikum.

We are thankful for the kind response of the President of Pilar College, Sr. Maria NiƱa C. Balbas, to our appeal for a dialogue, and for the College’s invite to our Regional Director Dennison Abidin.

Allow me to apologize for being unable to attend the dialogue due to my earlier scheduled meetings in Manila. Our Acting Regional Director Dennison Abidin is an able representative of the Commission in the dialogue.

Our position has been clearly outlined in our “Open Letter for the RVM Sisters of Pilar College”. We believe it is a tenable position by elaborating on the following reasons:

1. It is fully supported by law and State policy.  

a. Sec. 28 (e) of the Magna Carta of Women: “Sensitivity of regular schools to particular Moro and indigenous practices, such as fasting in the month of Ramadan, choice of clothing (including the wearing of hijab) and availability of halal food shall be ensured.”

b. Department of Education Order No. 53, series of 2001, issued by then Secretary Raul S. Roco on October 29, 2001: “In the specific cases of Muslim women, the following policies shall be adopted: (a) Female Muslim schoolchildren should be allowed to use their veil or headdress (hijab) inside the school campus.”

c. DOH Memorandum No. 2009-0107 dated April 29, 2009 issued by Sec. Francisco T. Duque III: “Muslim female workers should be allowed to use their veil (hijab) and wear their prescribed mode of dressing inside the premises of all healthcare institutions…”

d. CHED Memorandum dated August 26, 2008 issued by Chair Nona S. Ricafort: “In view of the foregoing, all HEIs are hereby directed to grant unto the concerned Muslim nursing students utmost respect and consideration on their wearing of veils/hijabs during hospital duties provided that institutional rules and regulations concerning infection control aseptic techniques are observed.

2. It does not derogate on Pilar College’s right to academic freedom.

a. Citing the landmark U.S. case of Sweezy v. State of New Hampshire, constitutionalist Vicente Sinco (1964) enumerates “four essential freedoms” in relation to academic freedom:
                      I.        The freedom to determine “who may teach,” which means the right of the University to prescribe the qualifications of faculty member and select them at its discretion;
                   II.        The freedom to determine “what may be taught,” which means the right to decide what subjects should be taught or to fix the curriculum;
                 III.        The freedom to determine “how it shall be taught,” which means the right to adopt methods, procedures, and practices of teaching;
                 IV.        The freedom to determine “who may be admitted to study,” meaning what conditions a person should have to be taken in as a student.

b. Even if Pilar College allows hijab in its campus and classrooms, it does not affect its ability to discharge the first three “freedoms”. The fourth freedom on the other hand is to be subjected to the test of reasonableness. Hence, in a dissenting opinion in Tan v. Court of Appeals, Supreme Court Associate Justice Isagani Cruz opined that: “Private schools are subject to reasonable regulation and supervision of the State, but they may also have the right to establish reasonable rules and regulations for the admission, discipline and promotion of students.” The right to established rules and regulations by educational institutions like Pilar College is therefore, not absolute. It should always be reasonable and subject to an equally reasonable regulation and supervision of the State. Definitely, the condition that hijab be not worn in campus is not an academic condition that tests the capability of a student to study in the school.

3. The wearing of the hijab is not injurious to Pilar College and its students, faculty and staff; nor does it impede the teaching and learning functions in the school. This is obvious and need not be argued.

4. On the other hand, the wearing of a hijab is a sign of morality and modesty which Pilar College subscribes to. Again this is obvious because even nuns wear veils on campus.

Further to our position therefore, we propose that a compromise be reached, where, just like in Notre Dame of Jolo, the school allowed the hijab and merely regulated it by specifying a color (white and black) for the hijab allowed in the school premises. This is also in accord with the policy enunciated by the Department of Health for Muslim health workers where the hijab was allowed provided it complies with the sanitary requirements of hospitals. The officials of Pilar College and the concerned Muslim sectors in Zamboanga City may then discuss the details on the implementation of a regulated hijab.

Finally, it is hoped that the cleansing fast of Ramadan and the Christian recognition of multi-faith coexistence will inspire all sectors to reach an agreement that recognizes and harmonizes the academic freedom of an institution with the freedom of religion and expression of the students in a society that is pluralist and civilized.

Thank you and Ramadan Kareem.

Hijab: A Symbol of Liberation and Not of Oppression
By Warina Sushil A. Jukuy 

First Posted on Inside Mindanao (www.insidemindanao.com) on April 25, 2008

"...This brought to mind a similar hijab incident at Pilar College. Pilar College' authorities steadfastly refused to listen to the imploration of Muslim parents on behalf of their veiled daughters. They adamantly reasoned that no one forced them to enroll their children at Pilar College and so they have to conform to school regulations just as non–Muslim OFWs have to conform to Muslim countries' legal compulsion for the former to wear the veil.

During the Magna Carta for Women Conference organized by Cong Beng G. Climaco, we lobbied for the rights for equal educational opportunity for Muslim women in the Philippines. I observed that infringement on the Muslim student's right to wear the veil is a result of profound ignorance of its divine merit and significance..."