TWO Muslim members of the House of Representatives have criticized a police directive requiring updated lists of Muslim students as a "blatant profiling of Muslims" and "act of discrimination in its highest form."
Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman of the Lone District of Basilan and Anak Mindanao Representative Amihilda Sangcopan, in a joint statement Friday, February 21, questioned the motive in prying into the lives of Muslim children in Metro Manila.
They were reacting to a memorandum issued by the Manila Police District on January 31, 2020, requiring all units to submit updated lists of Muslim students in high schools, colleges and universities in Metro Manila.
“Maling mali ito. Profiling has no place in a nation that respects and draws strength from the diverse beliefs of its people. Guilt by association is wrong, and sometimes fatal. Baseless stereotyping can end in lethal results. What is sad is that this is an official directive, and aimed at children at that,” said Hataman, a former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, now the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (Barmm).
Hataman said that he was open for discussion with the Philippine National Police (PNP) regarding the issue.
“Profiling Muslims is the kind of act that makes extremists, not prevent them. This is the worst kind of discrimination,” Hataman said.
“You teach people to hate the heavy hand of the State and you make them suspectible 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,” he added.
Sangcopan, for her part, said profiling is among the activities that she and Hataman hoped to stop when they filed House Bill No. 1579, or An Act Prohibiting Racial, Ethnic and Religious Discrimination.
"These are practically children who also struggle with the ills of discrimination in their own schools.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.
The said bill, which is now pending in the House Committee on Human Rights, seeks to recognize and promote the rights of indigenous cultural communities within the framework of national unity and development.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) earlier criticized the memorandum, saying it “reeks of the police’s ignorance and Islamophobia.”
National Capital Region Police Office Director Debold Sinas had denied that the memorandum was for profiling of Muslim students.
He said it was for the use of the Salaam Police Center, which is tasked to monitor and network with Muslim communities in addressing terrorism and lawless violence in their respective areas. (SunStar Philippines)