Arrest of Muslims a litmus test

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    ‘In the wake of the expected signing by President Duterte of the anti-terrorism bill, the concerns aired by the Muslim congressmen regarding this incident in Malate are most timely.’

    WITH the anti-terrorism bill still awaiting the signature of President Duterte and many sectors still weighing in on the issue of whether this should be signed into law or not, the Manila police have provided an incident that may become the litmus test for the proposed legislation.

    A resolution filed by Muslim representatives in the House of Representatives said that at around 3 p.m. last June 12, Abdullah Palawan Maute and Saadudin Alawiya were the subjects of unreasonable search and seizures, and illegal warrantless arrest by members of the Manila Police District (MPD) Station 5 led by Supt. Ariel Cabarle Caramoan.

    Reports indicated that the policemen, without properly identifying themselves and sans any search warrant or warrant of arrest, allegedly broke the main door of a house in San Andres, Manila where Maute and Alawiya were residing. This took place without proper coordination with barangay officials, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and the MPD, in violation of standard procedures in conducting search or buy-bust operations.
    Now several Mindanao lawmakers want the House of Representatives to conduct a comprehensive investigation in aid of legislation on what looks like abuse of police power and authority.

    Deputy Speaker Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman, Lanao del Sur Rep. Ansaruddin Abdul Malik Adiong, Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison, Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu, Lanao del Sur Rep. Yasser Alonto Balindong, Maguindanano Rep. Datu Roonie Sinsuat, Sr., and Anak Mindanao (AMIN) Party-List Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan are asking the House committees on public order and safety and Muslim affairs to jointly conduct the probe.

    Hataman said the primary objective of the probe is to get to the bottom of the incident, get the side of the police, find out if there was really abuse of authority, and study if there is a need for legislation to address an injustice.

    In the wake of the expected signing by President Duterte of the anti-terrorism bill, the concerns aired by the Muslim congressmen regarding this incident in Malate are most timely. They fear that giving power to law enforcers to search and arrest without warrant will only result in the abuse and misuse of the authority given to them under the measure.

    The House should hurry up with this investigation so that its results — good or bad — may be considered by Malacanang in making the hard decision about the anti-terrorism bill.