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De Lima hits out at ‘profiling’, orders probe

The Department of Justice will investigate the use of a sketch labeled “Muslim type” to describe one of the suspects in the recent bombing in Zamboanga City by the National Bureau of Investigation-Western Mindanao office.    

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered Justice Undersecretary Zabedin Azis to conduct the probe into the labeling in coordination with NBI Director Virgilio Mendez.

De Lima stressed that the DoJ does not tolerate such kind of discrimination.

“The DoJ does not allow or tolerate discrimination against any group or sector of society, including Muslim Filipinos. This would violate not only the equal protection clause of our Constitution but also our commitments under international law,” De Lima said.  

Pep talk.  Justice  Secretary Leila de Lima  delivers a pep talk before employees of the Department of Justice during their 118th founding anniversary in Manila on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. Jansen Romero

The Justice secretary added that the Philippines, as one of the parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, discrimination on such grounds as race, religion, political opinion or national origin is not allowed and that respect for human rights without distinction of any kind must be done.

Azis said this non-discrimination also requires mutual respect, adding that as a country with a history of rich diversity, “we are determined to avoid negative stereotypes and misinformation about beliefs, cultures and communities.”

“The government will protect and respect every Filipino regardless of race, color and religion,” he assured.

He underscored the role of mutual respect and equal protection of law in the pursuit of multicultural harmony.

The controversial sketch was released by the NBI-Western Mindanao office to help authorities identify and arrest the suspects in the recent bombing in Zamboanga City that killed one and injured scores of others.

NBI-Western Mindanao director Fernando Lavin has already apologized for the lapse after meeting with Muslim community leaders in the region.

The sketch of the male suspect tagged as the “Muslim type” went viral on social media and caused outrage with many saying the NBI is biased against Muslims and was an affront to the Muslim communities in the country.

Army and police intelligence units have blamed the extremist Abu Sayyaf group for the bus bombing in Zamboanga City.

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