Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas. INQUIRER file photo / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

NCRPO Chief Sinas to hold dialogue with Muslims to thresh out differences on issue of Profiling Muslim Students

Cotabato City— Major General Debold Sinas, Director of National Capital Region Police Office issued an order for the Manila Police District (MPD) to hold dialogue with Muslims in Manila after getting flak over allegations of profiling of Muslim students in Metro Manila to thresh out differences caused by a memorandum ordering police officers in Manila to submit an updated list of Muslim students in the city.

Sinas said in a statement posted online by Philstar on February 23 that he issued the order for the Manila Police District (MPD)’s Salaam Police Center to “conduct a meeting with the Muslim student leaders in Manila.”

Aside from easing tension, Sinas said the dialogue will also focus on projects and activities that will benefit Muslim communities in Manila.

The MPD has yet to set to a specific date for the dialogue, said the online report by Philstar.

Sinas recalled the controversial memorandum ordering police officers in Manila to submit an updated list of Muslim students in the city.

Sinas insisted it was not their intention to cause harm and anxiety, saying the memorandum is not about profiling but only to get the statistics of Muslim students as required by the Directorate for Police Community Relations (DPCR) Salaam Police Center, the Philstar said in its report.

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BTA-BARMM), other Muslim groups, and COURAGE condemned the memorandum, which the NCRPO calls Salaam Police Smart Policing.

Critics said the memorandum dated Jan. 31 ordering police to get the names of Muslims studying in Manila supposedly to strengthen peace-building initiatives and to counter violent extremism is tantamount to profiling.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Franciso Gamboa came to Sinas’ defense, saying the initiative is not for profiling purposes but actually improving relations with Muslims.

“Our goal is to facilitate dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters so that we can thresh out problems related to peace and order,” Gamboa said.

As he and Sinas both hail from Mindanao, Gamboa said: “We know better in getting along with our Muslim brothers than those who are good only at uneducated speculation.”

The incident was preceded by the alleged profiling of a transgender woman who was supposedly picked up at random and invited for questioning by police officers in Makati City.

The LGBT community lashed out after the transgender woman posted a video of the incident.

Police said this operation only involved the invitation of transgender individuals for profiling as part of the police’s anti-crime campaign. 

Gamboa claimed both situations were misinterpreted and put the police force in a bad light.

“I will be reminding my units to be very careful. A lot of people are now oversensitive over a lot of things. Maybe as a result of the exercise of freedom guaranteed by the Constitution,” he added.

The PNP chief assured the public that the police force remains observant of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution despite the recent incidents.– With Marc Jayson Cayabyab