A teachers’ party-list group has accused the Manila Police District (MPD) of compiling a list of Muslim students, an act they said was tantamount to profiling.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) presented a memo in a presser yesterday that was sent by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to the Timoteo Paez Integrated School in Tondo last month, asking them to present a list of the names of their Muslim students. According to the memo, the list was needed by the police as part of their “peacebuilding and counter[ing] of violent extremism.”
The order came from MPD Director Brigadier General Bernabe Balba.
“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 or terrorists,” ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez said in a statement. “But 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. It should remain zones of peace, free of police and military intrusion.”
“As an education institution, it is our duty to protect our students from such dangerous ignorance and discriminatory practices and more importantly, to counter these by ensuring that schools remain safe spaces where diversity of beliefs and thoughts is valued and respected, and critical thinking is honed without threats of any kind,” Martinez added.
Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, told The Philippine Daily Inquirer that the memo was real, but it was not meant to profile Muslim students. He said that the Salaam Police Center, a police department that monitors Muslim neighborhoods, will use the list “to conduct interventions and programs…in partnership with the community.”
According to the PNP’s website, the Salaam Police Center was established to address “terrorism and lawless violence” in Muslim communities, as well as training cops in countering radicalization of its members.
Manila has a huge Muslim community, specifically in Quiapo where the Manila Golden Mosque, the largest mosque in the city, is located. There are also a significant number of Muslim residents in Taguig City and Quezon City.