Padilla accepts Azurin’s apology

Senator Robinhood Padilla on Wednesday accepted the apology of Philippine National Police chief, Lt. Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., following a video where cops responding to the hostage-taking incident at the PNP Custodial Center that threatened the life of former senator Leila de Lima were heard repeatedly referring to the inmates as “Muslims” – a gesture he found discriminatory.

Padilla personally went to PNP headquarters to visit the former Senator de Lima and had the chance to talk with Azurin.

Azurin apologized for the alleged discrimination against the inmates involved in Sunday’s hostage-taking and vowed to strengthen programs promoting cultural and religious sensitivity for police officers to prevent cases of discrimination.

“I came here to the PNP to pay tribute to our Chief PNP Gen. Azurin because we Muslims were touched by his humility and there is no need to give an apology but he did. He humbled himself and said that our police heroes will be educated on cultural sensitivity that’s why I am here to pay tribute to him and humble myself, too, and apologize for the trouble caused by the Abu Sayyaf,” Padilla told reporters in Filipino, after the visit to de Lima.

He added that he talked to de Lima, not as a senator, but as a Bicolano and a Muslim, to tell her that whatever these Abu Sayyaf members have done at the PNP custodial center is against the teachings of Islam.

“The truth in Islam that is in the Quran, when you hurt or kill an innocent person, it is like you have ended the human race, so that is the message that we sent to the senator who is also a Bicolano just like me.,” Padilla said.

He said he learned from Azurin that de Lima wants to remain at the PNP Custodial Center where she feels safe.

When asked about the House of Representatives’ plan to conduct an independent investigation into the hostage-taking incident on 9 October, Padilla no one should conduct a probe except the PNP.

“We’re not investigators, although I obtained a criminology degree, I probably won’t be able to handle that. There is already a lot of work in the Senate and our mandate is different. I think the Makabayan (bloc) should not push for that after all the incident is already being investigated. I believe Senator Leila de Lima is okay. As for me, it’s my own opinion, let the PNP take care of it,” he added.

The PNP has assured full cooperation with any investigation that will be conducted by other agencies and law enforcement units on the hostage-taking incident that threatened the life of de Lima.

In a statement Wednesday, PNP public information office chief, Brig. Gen. Roderick Alba, however, said the police force has taken the needed steps to address the incident.

“Rest assured that the PNP will cooperate with any independent investigation to be conducted as we support the advocacy of fairness. We implore that this, however, will undergo the appropriate procedure at the proper forum,” Alba said.

The Commission on Human Rights earlier said it has started looking into the incident.

Alba said the PNP’s move to conduct an immediate impartial investigation shows accountability and transparency.

“We have also provided enough information to the public to make the public understand the circumstances,” he added.

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