MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 06 July) — The proposal for an identification card for Muslims in Central Luzon is a “locally initiated” move and is “not dictated” by the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership, PNP Director-General Ronald dela Rosa said in a press conference here Thursday.
Dela Rosa said the move of Central Luzon police officials is part of the documentation process of barangays hosting evacuees from this country’s lone Islamic City. Ninety-five per cent of the city’s 210,000 population, according to Mayor Majul Gandamra, have been dispersed to various parts of the country — across Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon — since clashes between government forces and the Maute Group and its allies started on May 23.
Dela Rosa said the barangays are merely recording evacuees from Marawi and that this is being done all over “dahil extra cautious ang mga LGUs (local government units) sa provinces, pino-profiling nila, nire-record nila para makasiguro sila na siguro walang makapunta doon na di dapat makapunta.” (They are profiling them, recording them to ensure the undesirables cannot go to their areas).
“Locally initiated po yan, hindi po yan mandated by the national PNP leadership,” he reiterated.
Dela Rosa said he does not see this as a violation of human rights, claiming it is merely recording and not preventing the evacuees from entering their village.
He explained that when the evacuees arrive in the barangays, it is “normal” for the barangay captains to record their arrival especially because of the threats of terrorism. “I do not know what’s the violation there. Kung nagre-record ka lang sa mga tao na pumapasok sa iyong barangay.”
Told that the ID system being mulled in Central Luzon is not just for evacuees from Marawi but for all Muslims in the area,” Dela Rosa replied, “Hindi naman. Yung mga bagong dating lang” (I don’t think so. Only the new arrivals), he said, Dela Rosa noted there are thousands of Muslims and Maranaos who have been living in Pampanga and Tarlac for decades and surely do not need to go through recording purposes.
He explained barangay captains record new arrivals to their villages, whether or not they are Christians or Muslims.
A July 4 Rappler report datelined Pampanga quoted Chief Superintendent Aaron Aquino, Central Luzon police director , as saying an ID system for Muslims may help authorities and Muslim community leaders identify and weed out undesirable individuals and terrorists in the provinces of Pampanga, Bataan, Bulacan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and Aurora.
“This system is a good practice from Paniqui, Tarlac, and we want this to be replicated in all Muslim communities in the whole region for easy and efficient identification of our Muslim brothers and sisters,” Aquino was quoted as saying.
OIC Secretary Catalino Cuy who was also at the press conference along with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, said that aside from fighting corruption, criminality and illegal drugs, they added a fourth which is the fight against violent extremism and that in all their meetings with Regional Peace and Order Councils, they “encourage our local chief executives actually up to the barangay level to be vigilant,” especially when there are new faces or strangers in their areas.
“Wala naman sigurong masama sa ganon (I don’t think there is something wrong with that), this is just one of the precautionary measures” to prevent the entry of undesirable people such as terrorists, Cuy said.
Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson of the Provincial Crisis Management Committee said the proposal is discriminatory. “Why the selective implementation?” he asked.
“Islamophobia is starting to creep in,” the spokesperson said.
Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong, Jr., asked, “national ID system pero para sa Muslim lang?”
MindaNews caught up with Dela Rosa after the press conference, as he was on his way to board the vehicle that would take him to the helipad at the neighboring Camp Ranao.
MindaNews pressed on the issue of violation of human rights in imposing an ID card system for Muslims only.
Dela Rosa said the barangays are merely doing profiling of new arrivals in their areas. “The proposed ID is for all Muslims, Sir” MindaNews said, to which Dela Rosa replied, “Muslims lang ba?”
In a statement issued July 6, Human Rights Watch said the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights treaties to which the Philippines is a party prohibits discrimination based on religion.
“The IDs could also violate the rights to equal protection of the law, freedom of movement, and other basic rights. Requiring Muslim-only IDs in response to a perceived failure of Muslims to prevent Islamist fighters from entering Marawi City is a form of collective punishment. It is irrelevant from a rights perspective that during the consultation, some Muslim leaders did not object outright to the proposal,” the HRW said.
It noted that since Duterte declared martial law over Mindanao’s 27 provinces and 33 cities, there have been reports of against Muslims. “ID requirements for Muslims should be rejected outright,” it said. Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)