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NCMF probes arrest of ‘framed-up’ Tuguegarao imams

By Ali G. Macabalang
March 5, 2019
Alleged frame-up  – One of three arrested imams narrates inside a lockup cell at the Enrile police station (left) how they were “framed up” in an anti-illegal drug arrest Saturday through a video that went viral in social media. (FB)
COTABATO CITY: The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) is now investigating a reported arrest of three imams cum asatid (Arabic teachers) allegedly drugged by law enforcers in Cagayan Valley recently to make it appear they were shabu users.
NCMF Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan ordered on Monday their North Luzon regional office to look into the case and assist legally the victims named as Habib Sirad Ditingcopen, Noraldin Bantuas Lucman, and Mossanip Madaya.
“Secretary Pangarungan had already talked to PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde (about the issue). The illegal arrest and frame-up will be probed by the NCMF legal team,” agency spokesman Jun Alonto Datu Ramos said.
“Necessary cases will be filed with the Ombudsman (against the arresting cops) once proven culpable of violating laws,” Datu Ramos said.
The NCMF intercession followed public outcry spawned by a video taken by responding well-meaning residents on the complaining victims at the lockup cell in Enrile town police station on Saturday.
The video, which went viral in the social media Facebook and sparked public condemnation, contained narrations in Maranao vernacular of the arrested imams about their fate.
The victims said they were travelling in Tuguegarao aboard a car lent by a Muslim convert to visit a fellow imam, and stopped on a roadside along Enrile town on call by companions, also Muslim, aboard another vehicle left behind at about 5:50 p.m. on Saturday.
While waiting, they said, some mostly “hooded” cops approached, searched their belongings, and declared arrest.
Because the arresting officers found no unlawful materials in the search, “one of the hooded policemen at gun point forced us to drink water” suspected of being laced with shabu substance.
”We first refused to drink and told them (cops) that we were not thirsty. But one of them slapped me, pointed a gun on my head, threatened to set us loose and then shoot us if we would not drink what was inside the glass,” one of the victims said.
“I felt my throat severely dried up after imbibing the water, so with my companions. By then, the cops called up PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) elements and media people,” he said.
He said some PDEA agents arrived past 10p.m. at the Enrile police detention cell where they were locked up.
“We are calling our Muslim leaders and higher authorities to help us. We swear that we have never been involved in any form of unlawful acts, much less illegal drugs,” one of the imams said on the video in tears. 

(Ali G. Macabalang)

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