Philippine Senator Robinhood ‘Robin’ Padilla, a Muslim, cried “discrimination” over the tagging as “Muslims” the hostage-takers who took former senator Leila de Lima on Sunday, October 9.
“I could not help but notice in the video that the hostage-takers were repeatedly described as ‘Muslims,'” said Padilla in Filipino, referring to some media reports on Monday.
He said he is also dismayed over the “discrimination showed by some policemen who responded to the incident.”
“I want to let everyone know that the word ‘Muslim’ should not be used to describe a person, especially if he has something to do with crime and terrorism,” said the senator.
Padilla said it is not right to use the word “Muslim” to refer to the hostage-takers.
“I humbly call on the [police] leadership to launch an education drive to guide our heroic policemen,” he said.
“I believe our police can play a key role in ending the discrimination, something that has yet to be achieved,” he said, adding that religion has nothing to do with the incident.
De Lima was briefly taken hostage on Sunday during an attempted breakout by three detained militants who were shot dead by police.
The incident happened at the national police headquarters, where de Lima has been held for more than five years with other high-profile detainees.
A police officer handing out breakfast was stabbed with a fork by an inmate, who then freed two others from their cells.
Two of the prisoners were shot dead by a sniper. The third prisoner ran to de Lima’s cell. He tied up and blindfolded the 63-year-old before a police officer shot him in the head.
De Lima said the inmate held her at knifepoint and threatened to kill her. She credited the police with saving her life.
Before her arrest on February 24, 2017, de Lima had spent a decade investigating “death squad” killings allegedly orchestrated by former president Rodrigo Duterte during his time as Davao City mayor and in the early days of his presidency.
She conducted the probes while serving as the nation’s human rights commissioner, then from 2010 to 2015 as justice secretary in the Benigno Aquino administration that preceded Duterte’s rule.
De Lima won a Senate seat in 2016, becoming one of the few opposition voices as the populist Duterte enjoyed a landslide win.
But Duterte then accused her of running a drug trafficking ring with criminals inside the nation’s biggest prison while she was justice secretary.
De Lima lost her bid for re-election to the Senate in May and Duterte stepped down in June.
The lawyer and mother of two has been held in a compound for high-profile detainees, rather than one of the Philippines’ notoriously overcrowded jails. – with additional reporting from Agence France Presse