ACT: Cops profiling Muslim students
A teachers’ group on Thursday said the Philippine National Police was compiling a list of Muslim students in high schools, colleges and universities in Metro Manila as part of efforts to “counter violent extremism,” denouncing the profiling as blatant Islamophobia.
“It is deplorable that the PNP would want to target these young Muslim students to supposedly counter violent extremism, which is short of saying that Muslims are more likely to become extremists,” said Joselyn Martinez, chair of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).
The group provided reporters a copy of a memorandum presented by police officers to the Timoteo Paez Integrated School in Tondo, Manila, where they pressed teachers with questions about Muslim students.
The memorandum, issued by the Manila Police District (MPD), ordered all its station commanders to “submit the updated list of Muslim students in high school, colleges and universities in your respective areas of responsibility following the attached format.”
It was accompanied by a table to be filled up for details such as the grade level, gender and total number of its Muslim students.
It was unclear if the officers were acting on a specific intelligence information, but the blanket nature of the directive suggested the students’ religion was the sole basis for the initiative.
Timoteo Paez was so far the only school that ACT knew to have been visited by the police. But the subject line of the memorandum was “Updated List of Muslim Students in High School, Colleges and Universities in Metro Manila,” suggesting the operation went beyond the MPD.
Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said the memorandum was legitimate but it was not meant for profiling.
The statistical information would be used by the Salaam Police Center (SPC) “to conduct interventions and programs in strengthening Salaam Police in partnership with the community,” he said.
The SPC was established in 2008 to oversee the diverse cultural differences and concerns, especially with regard to safety and security.
It is under the supervision of the Directorate for Police Community Relations (DPCR) and undertakes close monitoring, networking and liaisoning activities with Muslim communities in “addressing terrorism and lawless violence in their respective areas.”
“We firmly believe that one’s religion should never hinder us in pursuit [of] lasting peace and harmony thus, PNP through the DPCR includes SPC as one of its top [priorities],” Sinas said.
“The reality is, these students and our schools have nothing to do with the government’s wars, and therefore should not be used as avenues in the furtherance of such,” Martinez said. “It should remain zones of peace, free of police and military intrusion.”
The group called on DepEd to order schools not to cooperate with police seeking information on their Muslim students.
Manila, Taguig City and Quezon City have large numbers of Muslim residents. —WITH A REPORT FROM DEXTER CABALZA
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