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Military: No bombing of mosques in Marawi

By: Genalyn D. Kabiling

The military has ruled out the bombing of mosques to drive out Islamic extremists in Marawi City, saying it respects places of worship and other cultural and heritage sites.

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military would instead take other options to flush out the terrorists and regain the remaining parts of Marawi occupied by the enemy. “We categorically state that we have not bombed and will not bomb mosque in Marawi,” Padilla said during the “Mindanao Hour” briefing in Malacañang yesterday.

“The Armed Forces leadership is firm in its commitment to use other options that would flush out this Maute/Daesh-inspired group from these places of worship that they have converted into machine gun and sniper nest, defensive position, and arsenals for their war activities,” he said.

With other options available to the military, Padilla expressed confidence that they will “retake the remaining portion of Marawi occupied by these terrorists, neutralize the remaining members who continue to hold out, and begin the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the city.”

He assured the Muslim community that the military will not go down to the level of terrorists who desecrate the mosques to lure troops into responding to their violent actions in the same manner.

The military earlier said enemy resistance continues to dwindle as only four of the 96 barangays remain problematic areas in Marawi. The operations, however, have been hampered by the extremists’ use of civilians as human shields as well as madrasahs and mosques as staging areas of attacks.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the military will do everything possible to protect and preserve these places of worship in Marawi. Abella, however, appealed to religious leaders to call on concerned parties to respect these places.

To date, Abella said government troops continue to establish important foothold into the inner areas of terrorist-held areas. “Enemy resistance continues to dwindle and enemy-held areas are getting smaller as troops advance,” he said in the Palace press briefing.

He said Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año has already reminded troops to put premium on civilian lives and respect civilian property during the clearing operations. “The primordial concern remains that our forces are to continue to execute military operations to ensure we save lives through judicious military action,” Abella said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang has endorsed a proposed R10-billion supplemental budget to bankroll the rebuilding efforts of war-torn Marawi.

Abella said the “Tindig Marawi” bill filed in Congress would complement the planned executive order that allots another R10 billion to help Marawi recover from the armed conflict. “In anticipation of the rehabilitation of Marawi, Congress has proposed a 10-billion supplemental budget to rebuild Marawi through House Bill 5874 or the Tindig Marawi Bill,” Abella said in the Palace news conference.

“It is therefore a very welcome development and this complements an executive order for Bangon Marawi which is awaiting PRRD’s approval,” he added.

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