Philippines Mayor Orders Muslims Out Of City

| by Sarah Zimmerman
Muslim women in an alleyMuslim women in an alley

In a crackdown against illegal drugs, Mayor Amadeo Gregorio Perez has ordered all Muslims to leave the Philippines' Urdaneta City. 

The decision comes a day after an Aug. 8 speech by President Rodrigo Duterte, who called out by name 150 officials who had links to the Filipino illegal drug trade. According to CNN, 18 mayors and 31 police officers turned themselves in shortly after the speech was made, which seemed to confirm Duterte's allegations. 

Perez has unveiled a new plan to help fight the Philippines' war on drugs in his own city, giving all Muslims three weeks to vacate, the Manila Times reports. According to a police report by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, 84 percent of Muslim residents above the age of 12 are involved in the drug trade. 

The report also said that other crimes like murder, robbery and rape happen because of the drugs sold by Muslim dealers in the city. 

Perez instructed village officials and police officers to enforce the order and told landlords to serve their Muslim residents eviction notices along with a letter saying that their permits will be voided if they ignore the new law.

More than 5,000 Muslims reside in Urdaneta City, according to the Manila Times. Perez says that he understands that this mass eviction could take a toll on the economy, as most Muslim residents have legal businesses and pay taxes. About 3,000 Muslims are registered voters, and many of those who will be affected by this new law are children. City Schools Division Supt. Gloria Torres has already said that schools are willing to issue transfer certificates to affected students. 

While Perez realizes that this new ruling is harsh, he maintains that it is the only way to stop illegal drug pedaling. 

The Philippines is well-known for taking a hard stance on drugs, with President Duterte implementing a policy of shoot-to-kill any people who are suspected of being involved in the drug trade, CNN reports.

"If [a criminal] fights, and he fights to the death, you can kill him," Duterte said in a speech. "Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun. ... You have my support."

Since he assumed office on June 30, more than 465 people have been killed by police and vigilantes, according to CNN.  

"We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars -- or below the ground, if they so wish," he said, adding, "It's a war, not a crisis ... Why should these people live?"

Sources: Manila Times, CNN (2) / Photo credit: Jeremy McWilliams/Flickr

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