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Zambo execs apologize for suspect's 'Muslim type' label

John Unson (Philstar.com) - September 23, 2015 - 12:50am

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Officials on Wednesday lauded authorities in Zamboanga City for a prompt apology on having labeled "Muslim type" the cartographic sketch of the suspect in last week’s bombing of a bus that left a passenger dead and injured 32 others.

The sketch of the male suspect went viral on social media and sparked uproar among thousands of employees and officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

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

"We appreciate the gesture of the National Bureau of Investigation and the police. The apologies were ample enough. We must now close the book and move on," ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman told reporters Wednesday after a brief dialogue on the issue with regional officials.

Hataman’s office was earlier flooded with requests, some from Christian peace-advocacy blocs, for him to bring the issue to the attention of President Benigno Aquino III.

Complaining groups had earlier said the "Muslim type" label on the cartographic sketch, as an allusion to the possible religious identity of the suspect, was an affront to the local Islamic communities.

Radio reports on Wednesday morning said the Zamboanga City police and NBI’s office in Region 9 had both apologized for such insinuation. 

Hataman said he is grateful to the Zamboanga City police and the director of NBI for Region 9, lawyer Ferdinand Lavin, for the gesture.

The regional vice governor of ARMM, Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, said they do not harbor any sentiment now after authorities had asked for an apology over what was for them an insulting "characterization" of a Muslim as possible suspect in the bus bombing.

"In the spirit of Eid’l Adha, we say now the issue is dead and that we must put closure to it by saying we must continue to unite amidst religious diversities - via respect for each other’s faith and convergence on the commonalities of our different religions," Lucman said.

Muslims in the country and elsewhere will celebrate on September 24 the Eid’l Adha, also known as feast of sacrifice, one of two most important religious events in Islam.

President Aquino had earlier declared September 25 as a nationwide Eid’l Adha non-working holiday. Muslims in the ARMM and in other parts of the globe will, however, celebrate Eid’l Adha on September 24, based on the lunar based Hijrah calendar.

Hataman had issued a separate executive order declaring September 24 a non-working holiday in the autonomous region, which covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in Central Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

ABU SAYYAF ACIRC ADHA AUTONOMOUS REGION CENTRAL MINDANAO EID FERDINAND LAVIN HAROUN AL-RASHID LUCMAN HATAMAN QUOT ZAMBOANGA CITY
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