NATIONAL Capital Region Police Office director, Major General Debold M. Sinas has ordered mosque or ‘Masjid’ visitation and immersion of his men to orient non-Muslim police officers about the Muslim-Filipino culture and rituals.
The ‘Masjid’ immersion is part of the NCRPO’s cultural sensitivity seminar to educate non-Muslim NCRPO personnel on Muslim beliefs, culture and traditions in order to prevent them from making actions deemed offensive to Islamic beliefs, the Metro Manila police chief told the Journal Group.
Last Saturday, NCRPO Deputy Chaplain, Captain Jihadi Abdelgafur accompanied a group of police officers and men in visiting the Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila as part of their ongoing seminar.
“One day niyan is ‘yung immersion sa mosque, kasi noong ginawa namin itong same training-seminar sa Region 9 and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao before, kailangan dumalaw ka ng mosque for you to further appreciate their beliefs and rituals,” Sinas said.
Non-Muslim officers visiting mosques in the country are getting a briefing from the holy place’s administrator or Imam. Last week, Sinas said that 75 NCRPO officers and men joined the start of a cultural sensitivity seminar being supervised by the Islamic Institute of the University of the Philippines.
The NCRPO chief said he wants similar cultural sensitivity seminars to be conducted year-round in Metro Manila and to be attended by personnel of the five NCRPO districts.
Sinas said that initially, the target participants of these seminars are investigators or the first responders to crime incidents.
Eventually, he will require all NCRPO personnel to attend the seminar in the aftermath of the controversy generated by the ‘misinterpreted memorandum’ on Muslim student statistics in the metropolis which was ordered pulled out by the official amid concerns raised regarding the possibility of a ‘’Muslim student profiling.’
Philippine National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa expressed his full support to the effort of the NCRPO to further strengthen their partnership with the Muslim youth sector in Metro Manila thru the PNP’s Salaam Smart Policing program.
“The PNP high command supports the initiative of NCRPO in reaching out to the Muslim youth sector in Metro Manila. By consolidating the Muslim youth mass base for purposes of possible mobilization in future police-community affairs programs, we are, in effect, facilitating better understanding of the uniqueness and complexities of the different belief systems in a multi-faith society by promoting healthy discussions and exchange of opinions thru the Salaam Police Centers,” the PNP chief said.
Gen. Gamboa explained that the PNP “believes that this simple gesture of respect and consideration for others is the true essence of peace and religious freedom, guaranteed by the state as a sovereign right of every peace-loving Filipino.”
“Our goal is to facilitate dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters, so that we can thresh out problems related to peace and order. This augurs well with the PNP’s assessment and initiatives on the role of traditional leaders in community-policing in Muslim communities,” he said.
The PNP chief likewise urged the public to be more circumspect in their interpretation of this noble PNP initiative and not be swayed by disinformation spun by those with ulterior motives.
“General Sinas and I are both from Mindanao, as well as a good number of our PNP generals. We know better in getting along with our Muslim brothers than those who are good only at uneducated speculation,” he said.
Sinas earlier dispelled suspicions they are ‘profiling’ Muslim students in Metro Manila with the activation of their Salaam Police Smart Policing program.
“I have learned that a memorandum document about the updated list of Muslim students in high school, colleges and universities in Metro Manila garnered several reactions and opinions from our public.
To shed light on this matter, the memorandum is not about profiling but the statistics of Salaam Police Center on the number of Muslim high schools and college students in Metro Manila in order to conduct interventions and programs in strengthening Salaam Police in partnership with the community,” the Metro Manila police chief said.
Sinas also emphasized that the “Philippine National Police fully support all the government’s peace initiatives and holds series of activities in Metro Manila as part of the strengthening of peace-building to counter violent extremism thru the PNP Directorate for Police- Community Relations’ Salaam Police Center.
“The center was created to oversee the diverse cultural differences and concerns, especially in the aspect of safety and security. One of its function is to undertake close monitoring, networking and liaising activities with Muslim communities and other communities in addressing terrorism and lawless violence in their respective areas,” he said.
Sinas also explained that the PNP continues to conduct ‘short ugnayan/dialogue, trainings, seminars and continuing education for our Muslim brothers to establish good rapport to the community.”
However, he acknowledged the lapses they committed when it comes to communicating with the public. “We made some mistakes. We accept there were misunderstandings. Maganda ‘yung intention namin pero siguro it’s about how we communicated it. Doon lang kami siguro medyo mahina. That’s why we are trying to reconnect with our constituents,” the official humbly said