Profiling in Courage? Police chief admits creation of Muslim student list was a ‘lapse’

<i>Screengrab from CNN Philippines’ The Source / YouTube</i>
Screengrab from CNN Philippines’ The Source / YouTube

The Manila Police District’s (MPD) efforts to create a list of all the Muslim students in the city’s schools may have been a “lapse,” National Capital Region Police Chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas admitted today, but the effort to profile a vast swath of people on the basis of their religion did not constitute religious profiling, he insisted.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source, Sinas rejected the Alliance of Concerned Teachers’ (ACT) accusation that the MPD was profiling the students on the basis of their religion because there was “no mention of the word ‘profiling'” in the memo, he said. Even so, Sinas said authorities recalled the order to create a list of Muslim students days after it was exposed by the ACT and roundly criticized.

Pressing Sinas, host Pinky Webb asked, “When you say [you’re asking for] statistics, doesn’t that come off as profiling?”

“This is why I had [the memo] recalled, so that we can once and for all put a stop to it,” Sinas replied. He added that the police are correcting their mistake by reaching out to the members of various Muslim communities.

“When I talked to the different Muslim communities and the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos, what they said is we can get [help] from them. They promised to help us. So in a way, there were lapses, that’s why we accepted it. And we’re man enough to accept it,” the police chief said.

Sinas added that he’s planning on conducting “cultural sensitivity” seminars for members of the MPD. Originally scheduled for Ramadan, these seminars will be “fast-tracked” because of the recent snafu, and will be led by the Institute of Islamic Studies of the University of the Philippines. He said that the MPD does not have (surprise, surprise) a Muslim advisor in its organization, which is why they decided to start working with various Muslim organizations.

Read: Teachers’ group accuses Manila cops of ‘profiling’ Muslim students

Revelations of the initiative came to light on Friday, when the ACT slammed the Manila Police District after its director, Brigadier General Bernabe Balba, ordered the creation of a list of all Muslim high school and university students for purported “peacebuilding” and anti-extremism purposes.

“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. [Schools] should remain zones of peace, free of police and military intrusion,”ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez said in a statement.


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