A lawmaker from Mindanao on Wednesday sought a congressional inquiry into the spate of alleged warrantless arrests against Muslims in Cavite and in parts of Metro Manila, raising the specter of the misuse and abuse of the Anti-Terrorism Law, particularly against Moros.
At the same time, Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman asked the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) to explain the arrests and detention — allegedly without a judicial warrant and without due process – of at least 11 individuals inside a construction site in Bacoor, Cavite last Feb. 17, the whereabouts of whom are still undetermined as of now. Seven of those taken were Muslims.
“Is this the effect of the Anti-Terror Law? Or an incident of discrimination against the Moros?” asked Hataman.
Hataman said he would file a resolution calling on the appropriate committee of the House of Representatives to probe the incident. “We will investigate this matter to find out what happened,” Hataman said.
The Basilan lawmaker also referred to the spate of arrests against Muslims in Metro Manila, specifically in Manila and Taguig, where some individuals were allegedly taken by persons who identified themselves as operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation.
These incidents also prompted Hataman to raise concerns if they were also within the purview of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
“Since these are the first incidents of this arrests under the new anti-terrorism law, it is important to know if the safeguards we have instituted to protect the rights of suspects and the accused in the statute are followed to the letter,” Hataman noted.
He said “The NICA and NCRPO should clarify the arrests, produce the 11 individuals and inform their families of what happened. Most of them come from Basilan, in my province ” Hataman, former governor of the now-defunct ARMM, expressed.
“If they were arrested on suspicion of terrorism, then they should let us know. ..They are my constituents, and they deserve legal aid or assistance to protect their rights under the law,” he added.
Reports reaching Hataman’s office indicate that Bacoor police assisted an alleged joint operation by the NICA and NCRPO at Yuxing Construction Site in Barangay Mambog IV, Bacoor City last Feb. 17, 2021 at around 2 a.m.
Bacoor police said the NICA and NCRPO’s operation involved the “verifications of an alleged presence of Abu Sayyaf … “ in the said construction site. The construction workers were made to lie on the ground, face down, while the police asked who were Muslims and who were from Basilan.
A total of 11 were arrested in the alleged operation, and they included: Hadzma Pandapit Marunsing (a female working in the canteen), Arsid U. Adbulkadir, Arhan Mustafa Juhur, Tahirin Ngairun Jalil, Nulham A. Tadjae and Dam Sansangan Hamid, all residents of Basilan and working at the construction site.
“A week has passed and yet no word on where the 11 arrested individuals are being held or detained. I hope NICA and NCRPO extend the families of those arrested the kindness of telling them where these individuals are,” Hataman said.