DOJ Undersecretary Zabedin Azis, upon the instruction of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, has ordered NBI Director Virgilio Mendez to investigate the reported use of a sketch labeled "Muslim Type" by NBI Western Mindanao.
The sketch was released in connection with the search for suspects in the recent bombing in Zamboanga. Director Fernando Lavin has apologized for the lapse, for which he took full responsibility.
"The DOJ does not allow or tolerate discrimination against any group or sector of society, including Muslim Filipinos," Secretary De Lima said. "This would violate not only the equal protection clause of our Constitution but also our commitments under international law," the Secretary added.
She stressed that the Philippines is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which requires that countries respect human rights without distinction of any kind. It prohibits discrimination on such grounds as race, religion, political opinion or national origin.
This non-discrimination also requires mutual respect, according to Undersecretary Azis. "As a country with a history of rich diversity, we are determined to avoid negative stereotypes and misinformation about beliefs, cultures and communities," he said, adding that the Government will protect and respect every Filipino regardless of race, color or religion.
Undersecretary Azis highlighted the role of mutual respect and equal protection of law in the pursuit of multicultural harmony. He pointed to Singapore as a successful example of a diverse country that has avoided the tensions and conflicts now wracking various countries in Africa and the Middle East.