The National Capital Region Police Office on Friday clarified that an updated list of Muslim students in the region is for a legitimate purpose.
NCRPO chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas made the remark after a photo of a memorandum on the measure went viral on social media.
He said the data from this will be used for the Salaam Police Center which conducts programs geared toward strengthening the partnership between the police and Muslim communities.
“[The Salaam Police Center was established to] oversee the diverse cultural differences and concerns, especially in the aspect of safety and security,” Sinas said in a statement.
In a memorandum dated Jan. 31, the Manila Police District ordered its commanders to provide an updated list of Muslim students in their area of responsibility.
He said among its function was to do close monitoring, networking and liaising activities with Muslim communities and other communities in addressing terrorism and lawless violence in their respective areas.
“PNP conducts short ‘ugnayan’ (dialogues), training, seminars and continuing education for our Muslim brothers that aims to establish a good rapport with the community. We firmly believe that one’s religion should never hinder us in pursuit of lasting peace and harmony thus, PNP through the DPCR (Directorate for Police Community Relations) includes Salaam Police Center as one of its top priorities,” said Sinas.
He noted that the NCRPO is one with Filipino Muslims in praying that peace and order, public safety, equality and progress of the nation will be achieved despite diverse beliefs.
Sinas issued the clarification after Muslim lawmakers condemned the PNP for the alleged profiling, which they described as a “blatant profiling of Muslims” and “act of discrimination in its highest form.”
Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman from Basilan and Anak Mindanao Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan both condemned the police directive and questioned the motive in prying into the lives of Muslim children in Metro Manila.
The lawmakers were reacting to a PNP memorandum dated January 31 of this year; and addressed to all Station Commanders of the Manila Police District to “submit the updated list of Muslim students in high school, colleges and universities in your respective areas of responsibility following the attached format.”
A table was provided to be filled out for details such as the grade level, gender and total number of Muslim students in a Station Commander’s area of responsibility.
Hataman said he will be seeking a dialogue with the PNP on this matter
“Profiling Muslims is the kind of act that makes extremists, not prevent them. This is the worst kind of discrimination. You teach people to hate the heavy hand of the State and you make them susceptible to skewed and misguided political and religious beliefs. I believe if we explained this to the PNP, we can convince them to withdraw the memorandum,” Hataman said.
He said that “guilt by association is wrong, and sometimes fatal.” Profiling has no place in a nation that respects and draws strength from the diverse beliefs of its people.”
“Those who issued it should remember that the President himself has Maranao blood and takes pride in his Muslim heritage. Dapat iparinig sa kanila ang mga speeches ng Pangulo kung saan ipinagmamalaki nya na ang kanyang mga ninuno ay mga Maranao,” added.Hataman, a former governor of the now-defunct ARMM.
The Basilan legislator said that typecasting Muslims as possible terrorists and listing down all their names for a possible watchlist “is one of the greatest failures of police intelligence in our history.”
According to Hataman, Muslim children are being bullied, and those who ought to serve and protect them should not join in their abuse. The police should fight, not fuel, discrimination,” he further stated.
For her part, Sangcopan said the police directive is one of the evils they hoped to prevent when she and Hataman filed House Bill No. 1579 or An Act Prohibiting Racial, Ethnic and Religious Discrimination, now pending before House Committee on Human Rights.
“These are practically children who also struggle with the ills of discrimination in their own schools. Tapos dadagdagan pa natin ng ganitong klaseng profiling? If you are a Muslim student, how would knowing that your name is in a police list somewhere make you feel? I am certain no good will come out of this,” she said.
“And this comes as we are about to celebrate Bangsamoro Day next month. This is a modern day injustice not just to Muslim students but to all Muslim Filipinos. The PNP should reconsider its memorandum and halt all initiated efforts to update this so-called list,” she added.
Meanwhile, a female legislator on Friday called on the PNP put an end to the alleged profiling of transgender women, tagged as “Oplan X-Men.”
“This incident shows that LBGTs are still victims today of harassment and abuse. Sadly for our democracy, they are still considered second class citizens when they try to assert their rights to which they are rightfully entitled,” Deputy Speaker and Bagong Henerasyon Party List Rep. Bernadette Herrera said.
LGBT groups have cried foul over the alleged profiling of transgender women, which was caught in a viral video. In the video, two Makati police officers can be seen inviting transwoman, Anne Pelos, to their station “for profiling.”
In a now deleted Facebook post, the Makati police’s Station Community Affairs and Development Section described “Oplan X-men” as “an intensified operation that aims to rescue ladyboys from exploitation and human trafficking in ill repute areas.”
While the Makati police chief has denied the existence of such “Oplan X-men” and has ordered the relief of the two officers in the video, the lawmaker stressed that gender profiling by law enforcers should never happen again.
Herrera, former chairperson of the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality, is one of the authors of the bill prohibiting and penalizing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression (SOGIE).
“It is high time that we pass the SOGIE Equality bill to stop and penalize all practices that unjustly discriminate against LGBTs,” the Deputy Majority Leader said.
Under House Bill 1359, discriminatory practices include: “Harassment, coercion or threats committed by members of institutions involved in the enforcement of law and the protection of rights of any person on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Among other cases, prohibited acts under this section include arresting or placing under custody, and subjecting a person to extortion, physical, verbal abuse, or sexual abuse, regardless of whether such arrest has legal or factual basis. Harassment, coercion, or threat of judicial persons on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity or expression of their members.”
Herrera added that aside from law enforcement agencies, even in schools, workplaces, commercial establishments, and public services, prejudicial practices and policies based on sexual orientation and gender identity limit the exercise and enjoyment of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“There is an urgent need to correct this long-standing discrimination against lesbians and gays in our society. Laws should operate equally and uniformly. All Filipinos must be treated in the same manner, regardless of sex, sexual orientation or any other condition,” she said.