7 Moro lawmakers want House probe into warrantless arrest of 2 Muslim traders

Mara Cepeda

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7 Moro lawmakers want House probe into warrantless arrest of 2 Muslim traders
Manila cops arrest jewelry traders Abdullah Palawan Maute and Saadudin Alawiya in San Andres Bukid, claiming to find illegal drugs in their home

MANILA, Philippines – Seven Moro legislators are calling for a congressional probe into the alleged illegal warrantless arrest of two Muslim traders in San Andres Bukid, Manila about two weeks after Congress passed the controversial anti-terrorism bill.

The following Moro lawmakers filed House Resolution (HR) No. 981 on Tuesday, June 16, a copy of which was sent to reporters on Thursday, June 16:

  • Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman, Basilan
  • Ansaruddin Adiong, Lanao del Sur 1st District
  • Munir Arbison, Sulu 2nd District
  • Yasser Alonto Balindong, Lanao del Sur 2nd District
  • Esmael Mangudadatu, Maguindanao 2nd District
  • Amihilda Sancopan, Anak Mindanao
  • Datu Roonie Sinsuat Sr, Maguindanao 1st District 

At around 3 pm on June 12 – as the country marked Independence Day – 6 officers from the Manila Police District Station 5 allegedly broke into the home of Muslim jewelry traders Abdullah Palawan Maute and Saadudin Alawiya in San Andres Bukid without any search warrant or warrant of arrest.

According to the Moro lawmakers, the police were allegedly looking for money and jewelry on the second floor of the Muslim traders’ home. The cops found none, yet they still arrested Maute and Alawiya after supposedly finding illegal drugs in their house.

The legislators said there were other “anomalies” in the police operation, including the use of falsely marked vehicles with tampered plate numbers and the the failure of the police officers to properly identify themselves to the Maute and Alawiya. 

No barangay officials, journalists, and representatives of the Department of the Justice were also able to witness the proper marking of evidence on site.

“Allegations that PNP personnel are involved in nefarious activities, including unreasonable search and seizures, and warrantless arrests not falling under the exceptions provided by law, should never be condoned,” the Moro lawmakers said. 

“Hence an investigation is necessary to determine the circumstances leading to these illegal activities in order for Congress to legislate remedial measures to ensure the Constitutional rights of the people are protected and that law offenders are prosecuted,” they added.

Hataman, the highest ranking among the HR 981 authors, said the the Muslim traders’ arrest is even more worrisome now that the anti-terrorism bill – feared by many would be used against government dissenters and at the same time worsen Islamophobia in the country – is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.

“Madalas kasi mangyari ang pang-aabuso ng ilan sa ating mga kapulisan, lalo na sa ating mga kapatid na Muslim. At mas lalong nakababahala ito dahil sa napipintong pagsasabatas ng anti-terrorism bill na sa tingin ko ay open na open sa pang-aabuso ng mga magpapatupad nito,” said Hataman in a separate statement.

(The abuses of some of our policemen of our Muslim brothers and sister happen often. And this is even more worrisome given the looming anti-terrorism bill that I think is prone to abuses among those who would implement it.)

The former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao voted against the anti-terror bill, warning it is designed to target government critics, not violent extremists.  

If passed into law, the anti-terrorism bill would allow a preliminary declaration as a terrorist, surveillance of suspected terrorists up to 90 days, their prolonged detention up to 24 days, and arrests without judicial warrants. (READ: House of terror: How the lower chamber let slip a ‘killer’ bill)

Mindanao legislators strongly opposed the bill, arguing it does not address the root causes of terrorism. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.