Police apologize on ‘Muslim type’ tag on bomber sketch PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 22 September 2015 11:39

by Vic Larato

The “Muslim type” tag in the artist’s sketch of the alleged bomber was “actually referring to the suspect’s dialect as the witness overheard him speaking on the cellphone” inside the bus before the explosion Friday afternoon.

“It was not referred to the religion (Islam),” said city police director Sr. Supt. Angelito Casimiro as he explained and even apologized for such omission during a meeting with the Ulama Council of Leaders in City Hall yesterday morning, following what he described as an uproar over the use of the term “Muslim type” to describe the suspected bomber.

Casimiro, who released the artist sketch of the suspect to the media Saturday, said the sketch was composed on the computer by an artist from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) based on information or biographical profile of the suspect given by the witness.

He said the sketch was purely a result of the “communication” between the NBI artist and the witness, and the police did not have a hand on the whole process as a matter of policy, so as not to “pollute” the mind of the witness while trying to visualize to the artist the image of the suspect.

Nonetheless, Casimiro said when he inquired from the artist about the term “Muslim type” in the sketch “it was referring to the dialect of the suspect, who the first witness overheard speaking on the cellphone, asking where the air-coned bus was” and that the suspect pronounced the letter “R” as “L.”

The city police director further lamented that it has always been their problem in coming up with a sketch of any crime suspect, especially if the artist is not from the city and has no much orientation on religious sensitivity because the police cannot influence the artist.

“We are sorry for that incident,” he said.

Acting City Mayor Cesar Iturralde said yesterday the city government shared with the sentiments of the city’s Muslim residents, the Islamic scholars in particular, who felt slighted by the term “Muslim type” in the artist sketch of the suspected bomber.

This, he said, was the reason for the meeting he called with the Ulama Council of Leaders together with police and NBI officers to clarify the issue “because we do not want to impute any discrimination or division inasmuch as we want to preserve the unity among Christians, Muslims and Lumads in the city.”

In the meeting, the Ulama Council of Leaders through its spokesman strongly condemned the bus bombing last Friday afternoon that killed an innocent girl and wounded 33 people.

“This inhuman act of terrorism is a heinous crime that we appeal to you, the authorities, to expedite your investigation and bring the culprit to the bar of justice to meet the punishment for his crime against humanity,” the Ulama Council said in its position paper read by its spokesman during the meeting in City Hall.

The Ulama Council bewailed that the use of “Muslim type” to describe the suspected bomber was a total ignorance and insensitive on the part of the artist.

“It is not only ‘politically incorrect’ but a generalization that all Muslims are possible suspects of such a heinous crime. It is a blatant disregard of our Islamic faith… and a stereotype that will aggravate the very fragile Christian-Muslim relationship being ‘syndicated’ with bloody wars in the past,” the Ulama Council said in protesting against the use of “Muslim type” to describe the bus bombing suspect.

Also present during the meeting were Councilor Ismael Musa, City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer Elmeir Apolinario, members of the Ulama Council, other police and NBI officers.— Vic Larato