Duterte makes U-turn: Bombing mosques in Marawi will hurt Muslims

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has made a U-turn on the parameters for the government's troops' final push to flush local terrorists out of Marawi City. 

Within a few days of declaring he wouldn’t stop the military from bombing the remaining enemy strongholds in Marawi, including mosques with terrorists and hostages inside, Duterte said on Friday, September 1, that bombing the Muslims' place of worship would not help the cause.

“We cannot destroy the mosque.... It will breed an unending hatred,” Duterte said in his speech on Friday, as Muslims celebrated Eid al-Adha.

“What will it give us in terms of goodwill?” he told the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command. He added the government should be conscious of the cultural and ideological implications of destroying the mosques in the fight against terrorists. 

On Friday morning, thousands of Filipino Muslims went out to perform the Eid al-Adha prayer, a special occasion where prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice by offering his son Ismail to God is commemorated. 

Still, fighting between government troops and the Maute group continued in Marawi. On Thursday night, August 31, three soldiers were killed, while 52 were wounded after soldiers attempted to retake the Banggolo bridge, the second of 3 strategic bridges in the Lanao del Sur capital.

During his speech, Duterte bared that he had earlier thought of lifting the martial law. However, with the current situation, he said “we’ll just have [to] continue.”

“Parang may spillover na sa ARMM eh,” he said. (It looks like [the conflict] has spilled over into the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao). – Rappler.com