The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) has expressed alarm over the recent spate of arrests of “poor” Muslim construction workers, reportedly conducted by police in Metro Manila.
“My office considers the arrest and detention of poor Muslim construction workers appalling and a violation of human rights,” NCMF Commissioner Yusoph J. Mando said,
In a police report reaching the NCMF, it said the recent offensive involved elements of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), and the NCRPO Regional Force Battalion, which jointly raided a construction site maintained by Yuking Construction Inc., in Barangay Mambog 4, Bacoor City, Cavite, some 17 kilometers away from Manila.
A number construction workers were reportedly arrested merely based on “raw information” of an alleged presence of Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the area.
In the early dawn of February 17, 2021, some workers were preparing for their usual daily tasks while others were praying their dawn prayers when the site was raided, another report reaching the NCMF said.
It said workers of the said site including the wife of a welder and a nutritionist, who is bound for abroad were reportedly held at gunpoint by the raiding team.
Witnesses there also reported that non-uniformed men entered the property. Those arrested were nowhere to be found up to this time.
“Under the cover of being tough on crime, some law enforcers are targeting Muslims as part of a strategy that relies merely on suspicion just because they are Muslims,” Mando added.
The NCMF official then called for the immediate release of those workers who are not in any way connected with any crime and the prosecution of those who are proven to be in conflict with law.
“It is unfortunate that those wrongfully arrested have allegedly been maltreated despite introducing themselves as mere poor construction workers who just want to provide for their families.” Mando pointed out.
“They were arrested, handcuffed and were brought to a still unknown place. Without doubt, there is an urgent need to strengthen law enforcement capabilities and support these to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare,” he added.