Checkpoints a test of troops’ courtesy
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Barriers for military checkpoints might as well be painted with the word “courtesy.”
An Army official said soldiers were under instruction to be courteous to civilians at all times amid reports about complaints over rudeness during inspection at checkpoints.
Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson for the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said soldiers got a briefing on decorum at checkpoints, especially when dealing with civilians.
“We have to uphold human rights and show respect to people,” Martinez said. “That’s the order from higher-ups,” he said.
If someone had to be arrested at a checkpoint, Martinez said, soldiers making the arrest should avoid harassing the innocent.
A journalist was one of those who recently came face-to-face with a discourteous soldier at a checkpoint in the village of Hinaplanon, Iligan City on Thursday, July 20.
Divina Suson, who writes for a local daily, said she stopped at the checkpoint and showed her press ID to a soldier.
The soldier, noticing that her middle initial was M, asked what it stood for. Suson replied “Morgia.”
The soldier asked if M didn’t mean “Maute” in reference to the leaders of Maute group, a homegrown terror group that attacked Marawi City.
Suson said the soldier who questioned her apparently had concluded that if someone was surnamed Maute, he or she belonged to the terror group.
“What if my middle name is Maute?” she asked the soldier, who replied: “You will be imprisoned.”
“Why?” she asked him. He said: “It’s your fault that you are a Maute.”
Suson said his last reply angered her.
Her voice now a notch higher, Suson looked at the soldier in the eye before telling him: “What garbage dump did you get that logic from? Did you know that it was not what the Task Force Marawi told us in our press briefings?”
She went on to explain that the military had made it clear that not all who were surnamed Maute were terrorists. The soldier blurted out he was from Luzon.
To end the exchange, Suson cussed him. She said her anger doubled when the bus she was riding left her.
Martinez said soldiers at checkpoints had ways to determine if civilians were Maute members or not. “If a civilian’s face does not match the photos on the wanted list why scrutinize that person further?” Martinez said.
He said it was senseless to arrest anyone just because his or her surname was Maute.
Suson said she planned to file a complaint against the soldier, though she said she was unable to get the soldier’s name or unit.
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