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Hataman seeks probe into alleged warrantless arrest of Muslims in Cavite

Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman wants the House to probe into the alleged warrantless arrest of 11 individuals in Cavite, 7 of whom are Muslims hailing from his district Basilan. 

In a privilege speech on Wednesday, March 3, Hataman said that agents of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and the National Capital Regional Police Office, assisted by local cops, allegedly arrested without warrant 11 people at the Yuxing Construction site in Bacoor City last February 17.

“Inaresto sila, ayon sa mga nakalap naming impormasyon, nang walang judicial warrant… Pagdukot ito. Kidnapping ito. Nananawagan ako sa Kongreso, sa kapulungan nating ito, na imbestigahan ang mga kaso, upang mapanatag na ang kanilang mga kaanak sa lalo't madaling panahon,” said Hataman. 

(They were arrested, according to the information that reached our office, without a judicial warrant... This is kidnapping. I am calling on Congress, our chamber, to investigate this case to help ease the worries of their relatives at the soonest possible time.)

According to the Basilan congressman, the law enforcement agents supposedly ordered the individuals to lie face down on the floor before asking who among them were Muslims. 

The 7 Muslims in the group all hail from Basilan and several of them have been working for some time as construction workers in Manila prior the arrest. 

Hataman said that over a week since the incident, relatives of those arrested in Bacoor City still have no information on the whereabouts of their loved ones. 

He then likened the situation to what Martial Law victims had felt during the iron-fist rule of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

"Siguro naman (Perhaps), our officers from the NICA and NCRPO can at least extend some kindness to the families of these individuals. Mabigat sa dibdib ang hindi mo man lang alam kung ano na ang lagay ng kaanak mo (It's hard to bear when you don't even kow what happened to your family)," Hataman said.

"I'm sure that like me, many of our colleagues in this chamber understand how such an incident echoes the atrocities committed under the Martial Law regime. Huwag naman po sanang magbalik ang ganoong kalakaran (Let's hope this practice would not return)," he added.

The ranking lawmaker was concerned the arrest was done under the controversial anti-terrorism law, whose constitutionality is currently being challenged before the Supreme Court. 

Hataman himself had filed a petition against the anti-terror law along with Anak Mindanao Representative Amihilda Sancopan and other Moro lawyers, artists, and preachers. 

“The Bacoor incident, Mr. Speaker, might mark the first time that people were arrested under the new Anti-Terrorism Law. Kaya kailangan natin itong tutukan (that's why we need to follow this issue) –  to ensure that the safeguards under this law, and indeed under the Constitution, are being followed,” Hataman said.

He argued that if those arrested were indeed terrorists, then there should have been transparency in the process and their rights should still be respected. Otherwise, there is no reason to arrest the individuals and make their families worry.

"Lilinawin ko lang din, Mr: Speaker: Lahat tayo, gustong sugpuin ang terorismo – perhaps me, more than most, given my personal experience as a Muslim. Kami ang tinatamaan, nasasaktan, at namamatayan kapag may mga bumabaling sa dahas," said Hataman.

(Let me make this clear, Mr Speaker: We all want to stop terrorism – perhaps me, more than most, given my personal experience as a Muslim. We are the ones who are affected, who are hurt, who lose the people we love when there are people who resort to violence.)

"At paano natin matutukoy kung terorista nga o hindi ang isang pinaghihinalaan? Simple, Mr Speaker. Sa pagsunod sa tamang proseso, sa pagsunod sa batas," he added.

(And how do we determine who is a real terrorist? Simple, Mr Speaker. By following the right process, by following the law.)

Hataman had voted against the anti-terror law in the House, saying it is “not meant to combat terrorism” and warned the law could incite violence and further embolden terrorists. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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