Teachers’ group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines on Thursday condemned the alleged profiling of Muslim students in Metro Manila, describing it as "police ignorance and Islamophobia.”
ACT posted a memorandum by the Philippine National Police (PNP) seeking for an updated list of Muslim students from high school, colleges and universities in the region.
ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez said that schools should not allow themselves to be utilized for “such or any other counterinsurgency measures by the PNP.”
"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," Martinez said.
"The lumping together of civilians, dissenters, and champions of people's welfare with armed groups engaged in an actual war with the government is a dangerous and illegal practice that completely isolates the state and its forces from the very people it's supposed to serve," she added.
The group has also called on the Department of Education to prohibit the presence of police force in schools and issue a memorandum ordering the ban of release of teachers and students' personal data to the PNP.
"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," she said.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Regional Director Police Maj. Gen Debold Sinas, however said in a statement Thursday that the memorandum seeks statistics of the Salaam Police Center in order to conduct interventions and programs for the community.
“The center was created to oversee the diverse cultural differences and concerns, especially in the aspect of safety and security. One of its function is to undertake close monitoring, networking and liaising activities with Muslim communities and other communities in addressing terrorism and lawless violence in their respective areas,” he said.
According to Sinas, the police conduct dialogues, training, seminars and education for Muslims that aim to establish good rapport with the community.
“We firmly believe that one’s religion should never hinder us in pursuit for lasting peace and harmony thus, PNP through the [Directorate for Police Community Relations] includes Salaam Police Center as one of its top priority,” Sinas said.
“As part of NCRPO's quest for peace and solidarity, we are one with our Muslim brothers in praying for the best interest of our nation, that all Filipinos of diverse beliefs be united for peace and order, public safety, equality and progress of the nation,” he added.