Stop sending scalawags to Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-tawi, PNP chief urged

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 08 July) – The practice of sending scalawags in the Philippine National Police (PNP) to Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-tawi should stop, especially under a President and PNP chief who are both from Mindanao.

“It reflects bias and prejudice. The mindset of Spanish colonizers who exiled Rizal to Dapitan. This is how Muslims live when they become  part of a non-Muslim country,” Fatmawati Salapuddin, Commissioner representing Tausugs at the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) told MindaNews.

President Rodrigo Duterte is accorded with arrival honors during the PNP’s assumption of command at Camp Crame, Quezon City on July 1, 2016. KIWI BULACLAC/Presidential Photographers Division
President Rodrigo Duterte is accorded with arrival honors during the PNP’s assumption of command at Camp Crame, Quezon City on July 1, 2016. KIWI BULACLAC/Presidential Photographers Division

“Dela Rosa comes from Mindanao, a Mindanao settler who still carries biases and prejudice against Muslims and yet we shared MSU (Mindanao State University) with him.  Dela Rosa spent a few semesters at the MSU main campus in Marawi City before he entered the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., former President of the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City, said, he hopes Duterte, the country’s 16th President and the first Mindanawon to lead the country, “will put an end to this practice.”

“This is the usual practice and woe to poor provinces that deserve better…. The scoundrels and scalawags ought to be dismissed and NOT assigned to Sulu or Basilan or Tawi Tawi! These places deserve decent and good policemen snd women,” Mercado told MindaNews.

Duterte’s family settled in Mindanao when he was a young boy. Dela Rosa, whose nickname is “Bato,” hails from Barangay Bato in Santa Cruz town, Davao del Sur and graduated from the PMA in 1986.

His first among 83 medals received in his 30-year career is a “Mindanao – Sulu Campaign Medal” on April 24, 1987.

When dela Rosa assumed the post of PNP chief on July 1, he warned erring cops – those involved in drugs and criminal syndicates — that he would give them 48 hours to surrender. The deadline lapsed without anyone coming forward.

In a press briefing on Monday, Dela Rosa said he would send scalawags “to Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi to fight the Abu Sayyaf.”

Sharifa Pearlsia Ali-Dans, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Interior and Local Government in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), who hails from Sulu, said “if their intention to send the scalawags to Sulu is to punish them then they have achieved that at our expense.”

“The question is will their presence enhance the already worsening state of unpeace situation? This is a what bothers us. More than ever, Sulu is not a garbage can meant only for undesirables. What we need are officers with the zeal and dedication to restore public order, where everyone is safe and secure. This is the clamor of the people.”

Human Rights defender Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie, also of Sulu, said “Ang gulo na ng Sulu (Sulu is in deep trouble) so definitely we don’t need police scalawags.”

“Gaya ni Bato ang kailangan ng Sulu, at hindi scalawags (What Sulu needs are policemen like Bato). If they want to finish those scalawags they should send them to jail and prosecute. Hindi dapat relieve at i-transfer lang….hindi po tama yan (They should not just be relieved or transferred.. that’s not right), Tulawie told MindaNews.

Fr. Jonathan Domingo, OMI, Chief Executive Officer of the Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation (NDBC) and Mindanao Cross, said sending sending scalawags to Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-tawi “will not solve the problem.”

“It is like hitting only the tip of an iceberg. It is a mere shorter solution to a long term and persisting problem. The problems are systemic and structural, therefore solution needs systemic and structural reforms within the PNP,” Domingo told MindaNews.

“It is not good for people of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan and with due respect to their religion and cultures that they are (made) dumping site of scalawags. What they need are more professional men in uniform to help address and improve in collaboration with other sectors,   the peace and order and social development in those areas,” he said.

Domingo said “more quality PNP officers and men” are needed “to have quality peace and order and quality of life.”

MindaNews sought Dela Rosa for comment but as of 9 p.m. Thursday he had yet to respond. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews