The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines on Thursday slammed Philippine National Police’s (PNP’s) profiling of Muslim individuals in Metro Manila schools.
Muslim students in Metro Manila high schools, colleges, and universities are the subjects of profiling “as part of the strengthening of peace-building and counter violent extremism of the PNP,” to be submitted last January 31 as indicated in the police memorandum.
ACT said targeting Muslim students in counterterrorism seminars “reek of the police’s ignorance and islamophobia” and schools should not allow themselves to be utilized for such or any other counterinsurgency measures by the PNP.
“It is deplorable that the PNP would want to target these young Muslim students to supposedly counter violent extremism, which is short of saying that Muslims are more likely to become extremists or terrorists. But the reality is, 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,” said ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez, in a statement.
The teachers’ federation argued that the “ignorant and islamophobic” targeting of Muslim students exhibits clearly why PNP presence in schools should not be allowed.
ACT added that the same “endangering and slanderous practices” were observed in other police and military activities in schools such as the Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo (KKDT) and Executive Order No. 70 seminars, where legitimate organizations of students, teachers, and rights defenders are tagged as terrorists.
“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. Fascism and impunity has prospered under President Duterte’s rule as he legitimized it through EO 70 and other such repressive measures,” said Martinez.
The group called on Department of Education (DepEd) to prevent further rights violations of teachers and students by the PNP and the military by prohibiting their presence in schools.
ACT also called on DepEd to 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,” Martinez added.
ACT cited further that police and military are similarly duty-bound to uphold the 1987 constitution and its bill of rights, which guarantees the protection of people against all forms of discrimination, including those based on religious and political beliefs./Stacy Ang