MANILA, Philippines – The military on Wednesday, June 7, appealed to netizens not to spread Maute Group online propaganda seeking to frame the Marawi crisis as a “religious war.”
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla specifically referred to a video posted online by some sites, including Catholic ones, of supposed terrorists ransacking a Catholic Church in Marawi. The video showed the terrorists destroying religious icons.
“We have requested that this be pulled out because this may fan hatred,” said Padilla during a Palace news briefing.
The video, likely filmed by another terrorist, is intended to convince Christians to fight the terrorists in Marawi, and to “sow hatred among Christians and Muslims,” said Padilla.
He asked netizens to not share this video or news articles that show the video.
“Please do not spread this. Let us not buy into the plan of these terror groups to inflame the feelings of our other religions. This is not a religious war. This is a terror attack on the city of Marawi and we must be clear about it,” said the military spokesman.
Rather than spread terror propaganda, netizens should share news of Muslims and Christians helping each other survive the crisis. (READ: Trapped in Marawi: Muslims shield Christians from terrorists)
“Many of our Muslim brothers are helping their Christian friends and many Christians are now helping their Muslim brothers. These are the good stories,” said Padilla.
He also denied reports that soldiers and law enforcers are looting houses in Marawi.
The Marawi crisis enters its 16th day on Wednesday, June 7. The martial law over Mindanao declared by President Rodrigo Duterte also enters its 16th day.
Despite Duterte’s assurance over the weekend that the crisis would end in a few days, Padilla said he could not say for certain when government forces would be able to retake the entire city.
He said, however, that the terrorists’ “world is continuously growing smaller and smaller every day.”
The armed group is putting up stronger resistance and is refusing to surrender to government forces out of a determination to protect Abu Sayyaf leader and supposed “emir” of Islamic State Southeast Asia, Isnilon Hapilon. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.