On Monday, the Manila Times reported that Amadeo Gregorio Perez, the mayor of the town of Urdaneta, in the Pangasinan province, has blamed all drug-trafficking in the region on Muslims, and ordered every adherent to that faith to leave the area. He has given them three weeks.
The mayor stated that most crime in the area, whether murder, robbery, rape or assassination, is linked to drug dealers.
As a solution to the problem, Perez told local authorities to ban Muslims from entering the urban area. He also ordered non-Muslim property owners in Urdaneta who rent living or business space to Muslims to evict them.
Urdaneta’s local economy is heavily dependent on businesses run by Muslims, with some 400 dry goods stalls, and other distribution and retail establishments, dispersed across the city. The mayor has declared, however, that a banishment of the entire religious community, including families with women and children, is essential “to stop the proliferation of illegal drugs here.”
Among obstacles to the realization of Perez’s plans are that some 3,000 Muslims legally reside in the area and many are employed in local government.
“[These are] mindless acts that are clearly prejudiced against our Muslim brothers and sisters, especially when these violate their constitutionally protected and fundamental human rights, including their right to life and liberty, to be secure in their persons, and to freely practice their religion as Filipinos of faith,” Interaksyon cited Hataman saying.
Meanwhile, several Muslim groups have left Urdaneta, seeking a more welcoming place to live, according to the Urdaneta City Muslim Association.