NCRPO denies profiling of Muslim students
Rey Galupo, Helen Flores, Janvic Mateo, Delon Porcalla, Romina Cabrera (The Philippine Star) - February 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila’s police chief has denied the profiling of Muslim students in secondary and tertiary levels as part of peace building initiatives and to counter violent extremism.

Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas, director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), acknowledged the existence of a memorandum issued on Jan. 31 directing station commanders to submit an updated list of Muslim students.

“The memorandum is not about profiling but for statistics gathering on the number of Muslim students in Metro Manila to conduct interventions and programs in strengthening the Salaam police’s partnership with the community,” Sinas explained.

He said the data would be used by the Salaam police center under the Philippine National Police (PNP) Directorate for Police Community Relations. 

PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa backed the initiative of the NCRPO to “reach out” to the Muslims, which some sectors decried as discriminatory profiling.

Gamboa said the gesture aims to consolidate the Muslim youth mass base for possible mobilization in community programs through the Salaam police center. 

On Thursday, a teachers’ group released of copy of the memorandum from the Manila Police District (MPD).

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) tagged the move as police “ignorance and Islamophobia” as it targets a specific group of students based on religion.

The MPD said the ACT misinterpreted the memorandum.

“It is not about profiling of students but more of an effort by the police to reach out in pursuit of peace,” Maj. Michael Garcia, who heads the MPD community relations division, said.

Lawmakers also condemned the reported profiling of Muslim students in Metro Manila.

“It is an act of discrimination in its highest form. Profiling has no place in a nation that respects and draws strength from the diverse beliefs of its people,” Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman said. 

Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan of party-list Anak Mindanao said the move is an injustice not just to Muslim students but to Muslim Filipinos.

Child rights advocates also slammed the alleged profiling by police of Muslim students in Metro Manila to fight violent extremism.

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