MANILA, Philippines – Cops in Manila City have been listing the names of Muslim students in Metro Manila’s high schools, colleges, and universities, a leaked police memorandum revealed on Thursday, February 20.
In a memorandum signed by a certain Police Major Michael Garcia dated January 31, 2020, a police station was ordered to submit an “updated list of Muslim Students in High School, Colleges, and Universities" as part of a broader effort in the entire National Capital Region.
The purpose of the audit of students, the memorandum said, was for “the Salaam Police Center as reference in the series of activities in Metro Manila as part of the strengthening of peacebuilding and counter violent extremism of the PNP.”
Photo from ACT
Islamophobic? The memorandum was leaked by the progressive group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), which slammed the profiling as Islamophobic.
"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," said ACT chairperson Joselyn Martinez in a statement.
ACT then called on the Department of Education to prevent the PNP from gathering personal information of students and teachers.
The police’s defense: In a statement on Thursday evening, Metro Manila police chief Major General Debold Sinas confirmed the promulgation of the memorandum. He argued, however, that the profiling was done to help cops work with the Muslim community better.
“To shed light on this matter, the memorandum is not about profiling but the statistics of Salaam Police Center on the number of Muslim High Schools and College students in Metro Manila in order to conduct interventions and programs in strengthening Salaam Police in partnership with the community,” Sinas said.
The regional top cop reported that cops have programs for establishing and maintaining relations with the capital region’s Muslim community, including dialogs, trainings, and seminars. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.