TWO Muslim members of the House of Representatives raised a howl over a recent memorandum of the Philippine National Police (PNP) seeking an updated list of Muslim students in high schools, colleges and universities in Metro Manila, describing the order as a "blatant profiling of Muslims" and "act of discrimination in its highest form."
Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman from the Lone District of Basilan and Anak Mindanao Representative Amihilda Sangcopan both condemned the police directive and questioned the motive in prying into the lives of Muslim children 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," Hataman, a former governor of the now-defunct Armm, lamented.
"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," he added.
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."
"Kung ikaw ay isang law-abiding Muslim masakit po ang ganitong paratang. Parang tinokhang ang reputasyon ng mga Pilipinong Muslim. Suportado at mahal namin ang ating kapulisan na kahit sa dami ng nasasangkot sa kanila sa krimen ay ni minsan ay hindi namin sinabi na lahat ng pulis ay masama," noted Hataman, a human rights activist.
"Ang ganyang generalization ay huwag din sana nilang i-apply sa amin. 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 said.
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 explained.
"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.
The PNP memorandum in question was 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.
"We don't want our children growing up in an environment of fear and mistrust, and we don't want them to live in a culture of discrimination and hate. This what we hope to prevent, not encourage," added the House senior leader. (Hataman Media Team)