DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte made it clear that the country is not staging a warfare against Islam as it struggles to end the war with local terrorist groups linked to the Islamic State group (ISIS).
“It is not Islam. I should know. I would be the last person to condemn the Moro people,” Duterte said at a gathering with reporters on Friday evening, September 22.
Duterte’s message came as the country hopes it could finally end the conflict in Marawi, where the troops clash with the Maute Group. (READ: 'PH failed to detect signs that led to Marawi' – expert)
The fighting, which began on May 23, has killed at least 147 government forces, 45 civilians, and 660 terrorists, to which Duterte described as a war "where no Filipino could win.”
“Because of that alien ideology it brought them some kind of evil,” he said.
Duterte, during the celebration of Islamic New Year on September 21, called for peace and hoped that Filipinos would be able to rise up to the many challenges the country faces with “trust” and “mutual respect.”
On Friday, he explained the importance to prioritize its negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under the leadership of Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.
“That is why we do our best to talk to Murad. Nobody is winning in war just like in Marawi. Puro Pilipino lahat. (We're all Filipinos.)” – Rappler.com