Oct. 29 was a hard day for Muslim Filipinos. It was the same day newspapers carried the story of three Muslim suspects in the Valentine’s Day bus bombing being sentenced to death; when a certain Lalong Parad, a suspected Abu Sayyaf member, was shot dead in Jolo; and when Amil Salih Flamiano, 27, was arrested and identified by the police as Abu Tagalog, who was allegedly involved in the Sipadan hostage taking. Flaminiano was hit with rifle butts, handcuffed and poked with guns. Later, it would turn out to be a case of mistaken identity.
By Arthur L. Allad-iw
Posted by Bulatlat.com
BAGUIO CITY– A high ranking official of the Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA) in Northern Luzon demanded for a public apology from the Philippine National Police for the wrongful arrest of Amil Salih Flamiano, 27. Flamiano was arrested Oct. 29 after being mistakenly identified as Abu Tagalog, a member of the Abu Sayyaf involved in the hostage taking at the Dos Palmas Resort in Sipadan, Palawan.
“We urge the Philippine National Police (PNP) to publicly apologize for arresting the wrong Abu Tagalog,” said OMA Director Abdel Abdullah Macarimpas.
Director Macarimpas condemned the manner by which Amil was arrested by the PNP-National Capital Region, the manhandling by the arresting officers, and the violations of Amil’s rights.
“They (PNP) also have to apologize to all Muslims, particularly in Baguio. The arrest of Amil did not only inflict wounds to the very persons of Amil and his family but also to all peace-loving Muslims,” adds Macarimpas, whose office had been monitoring the case.
“There was a violation of the human rights of Amil. Physical force was inflicted on him. He was tortured by the arresting officers,” he adds, “although a warrant of arrest was issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.” The warrant, though issued by a judge, is allegedly questionable as it only lists a certain Abu Tagalog, without any description.
Macarimpas adds, that the call for a public apology is without prejudice to whatever legal case Amil and his family will decide to file.
When Amil was arrested Oct. 29 by police officers, he was allegedly brought to one of the PNP camps in Manila.
NORDIS learned the ordeal that Amil went through in a sharing he made after the noon prayer on Friday, Nov. 18.
Based on Amil’s accounts during noon prayer Nov. 18, he was hit with the butt of armalite rifles and handcuffed while in detention. He also recalled that he was constantly poked with guns causing him to experience mental and emotional anguish.
Muslims as terrorists
Under police custody, Amil claimed that the arresting officers equate Muslims with terrorists.
“The police claim that when they arrest NPA (New Peoples Army) guerillas, they are NPA. When they arrest Muslims, they are terrorists,” Amil recounted.
Macarimpas hit the equation of Islam with terrorism. “The PNP must spare innocent Muslims from being harassed and arrested in the guise of the fight against terrorism. Wounds inflicted upon Muslims will never be healed if their rights are continuously violated and trampled upon,” he adds.
He adds that sincerity of the government in dealing with Muslims is questionable if the rights of innocent civilians are not respected.
“The government efforts on national reconciliation and peace remain elusive unless the government is sincere in dealing with Muslims,” he adds.
Meanwhile, the Muslim community of the city supports the call for the PNP to publicly apologize for the arrest of Amil.
“This act of the PNP may become a precedent where any Muslim can just be arrested even without valid reason and without observing the appropriate processes,” says a Muslim vendor in his mid-30s.
He adds that Muslims are in the city to earn a living because the lack in job opportunities in war-torn Mindanao pushed them to migrate to this highland city. He cited as an example Amil who is just an ordinary staff of the Islamic Almaarif Education Center.
Another woman claimed that the practice of terrorist tagging should be stopped as it condemns and victimizes Muslims. She joined groups in Baguio opposing the proposed anti-terrorism bill in Congress.
The Muslims interviewed said that had the arresting PNP coordinated with the OMA and other Muslim institutions and organizations in Baguio, they could have known that Amil is not Abu Tagalog. The reward system given to police officers for arresting alleged terrorists drive the PNP to “short cut” legal processes at the expense of Muslims, they added. Northern Dispatch/Posted by Bulatlat