MANILA – House Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman condemned Sunday an alleged warrantless arrest of two traders in Manila suspected of being involved in illegal drugs, saying such incident raises fears of increased police abuse once the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 becomes law.
Authorities last Friday apprehended Saadudin Alawiya and Abdullah Maute in a buy-bust operation at San Andres district, according to a report from the Manila Police District (MPD).
But Hataman, who represents the lone district of Basilan in the House of Representatives, said authorities conducted the arrest and a search of the suspects’ residence without a court order validating the operation.
“Hindi pa nga nagiging batas ang Anti-Terrorism Bill, may narinig na naman tayo na mga kwento ng pang-aabuso ng mga pulis sa mga kapatid nating Muslim. Pano pa kaya pag naging ligal na ang warrantless arrest sa ilalim ng panukalang ito?” he said.
(The Anti-Terrorism Bill has yet to be enacted into law but we are already hearing stories of police abusing our Muslim brothers. What more when warrantless arrest becomes legal under the proposed measure?)
According to the MPD police report, Alawiya and Maute were arrested after selling suspected shabu to an undercover cop.
Authorities seized P258,400 worth of suspected shabu, among others, from the suspects, the MPD report said.
The police report also said the relatives and bystanders tried to prevent the arrest, but failed after a reinforcement team from the MPD headquarters arrived.
Hataman said the suspects’ relatives claimed they were jewelry traders and not drug peddlers.
The police also refused to show identification and did not coordinate the operation with barangay officials, the lawmaker added.
“Ayaw din natin sa droga (We don’t like drugs), but there is an uproar about what happened, and it involved trampling on basic human rights,” said Hataman, who received complaints from the suspects’ relatives and neighbors.
Hataman called on the Philippine National Police to investigate the incident.
He reiterated his opposition toward the anti-terrorism bill, which he earlier said had “vague” definitions of terrorism that could lead to human rights abuse.
“Baka mas kailangan natin palakasin ang ating enforcement operations kaysa bigyan ng masyadong malawak na kapangyarihan ang law enforcers na maari nilang maabuso,” said the former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
(Maybe we need to strengthen our enforcement operations instead of giving wider power to our law enforcers which they may abuse.)
The proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte.
If the bill becomes law, the government will be allowed to wiretap suspects, arrest them without a warrant, and hold them without charge for at least 14 days, among other provisions.