A leader of the House of Representatives on Wednesday welcomed the National Capital Region Police Office’s withdrawal of its order to local commanders to prepare a list of Muslim students in tertiary education institutions in their areas.
Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman also offered to work with the NCRPO in its campaign against terrorism and violent extremism in Metro Manila and maintained that the exercise should be a convergence of the efforts of all stakeholders of peace in the country.
Hataman earlier decried the NRCPO’s issuance of memorandum directing all station commanders of the Manila Police District to submit a list of Muslim students in all schools, colleges and universities within their area of jurisdiction. The memo was met with a barrage of criticisms, saying it was tantamount to “profiling” Muslim students. It was withdrawn by the NCRPO on Saturday.
“Maybe the objective is good if it is aimed at attaining peace. However, the way they are implementing it is, unfortunately, discriminating our Muslim children. That is not how you achieve peace. As I’ve said before, Muslim children are being bullied in schools. The police should ought to serve and protect them, not encourage their abuse,” Hataman said.
He said that his experience as the former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao gave him a lot of insight into the problem of extremism, citing the success of the Program Against Violent Extremism he launched in the Province of Basilan.
“We are willing to work with our police force on their anti-terrorism efforts and any campaign to mobilize Muslim communities without hurting or discriminating them. But the participation of every stakeholder is a must: the Muslim community, the government, and the law enforcement agencies,” Hataman, a former governor of the now-defunct ARMM, said.
“PAVE is still being implemented in Basilan and, as of now, the program has resulted in the surrender and reintegration of some 257 former members of extremist groups. We have a working example of how to prevent and address terrorism and violent extremism. I believe that it can be done in Basilan and anywhere in the country,” Hataman added.