Washington International Law Journal


The Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines (“CMPL”) was established in 1977 as part of an effort to quell longstanding violence between Christians and Muslims in the predominantly Christian country. This codification of Islamic laws in the areas of marriage, divorce, and inheritance provided for a system of Shari‛a courts that would operate within the larger framework of the legal system of the Philippines. Three and a half decades later, the CMPL has had little effect. The Shari‛a courts are understaffed and underutilized, accounting for less than 0.1% of the caseload in the Philippines. The CMPL is plagued by a series of practical and procedural shortcomings. More significantly, it limits the use of customary law and excludes or marginalizes familiar sources of Muslim authority, minimizing its appeal for Muslims who had hoped that the CMPL would provide greater rights and freedoms. In order to revitalize the CMPL and further engage Muslim citizens in the Philippines, this comment argues for a variety of practical and procedural changes to increase knowledge of and access to the CMPL, an increase in the use of customary law, and for the creation of more leadership roles for Muslims

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