Military vows not to bomb Marawi mosques

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 14) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said its troopers will not bomb mosques in their operations to liberate Marawi City from the terror group Maute.

"The sacredness of the area is decreasing and, hence, it may call for us to deal with those forces inside," AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a press briefing.

The AFP spokesperson added AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año also issued a statement, reiterating the military's commitment to preserve the mosques.

"We categorically state that we have not bombed and will not bomb mosques in Marawi. 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," the statement said.

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The AFP assured Islamic faithfuls "it will not go down to the level of these terrorists who desecrate places of worship to lure government security forces into responding to their violent activities in a similar manner."

On June 5, Padilla said the military is studying the possibility of bombing mosques, as provisions in international laws allow them to do so.

Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson Jo-ar Herrera revealed members of the local terror group are using civilians as human shields and are hiding out in mosques as part of their defensive tactics.

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The AFP statement also emphasized the soldiers' commitment to free Marawi.

"We are confident that through other options available to the Armed Forces, we will be able to 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," it stated.

No new deadlines to free the city had been set, after the June 12 target date set by President Rodrigo Duterte had passed.

In the same press briefing, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said clearing operations are in place, and only four out of 96 barangays in the city are considered "problematic areas...where focused military operations in urban terrain are currently ongoing."

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He added the Congress had proposed a ₱10-billion supplemental budget "to rebuild Marawi through House Bill 5874 or the Tindig Marawi Bill."

Abella said the pending House bill complements an executive order awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte's approval.