MALACAÑANG on Saturday called on Filipinos to pray for an end to terrorism in Mindanao, as the holy month of Ramadan began amid fighting in Marawi City that has displaced thousands of residents and left dozens of people dead.
In a statement, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the entire nation joins Muslim Filipinos in observing Ramadan.
“Together, we pray for an end to terrorism that falsely claims to advance Islam and seeks to subjugate our land to the brutal IS (Islamic State),” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed Mindanao under martial law and ordered government forces to crush terrorists responsible for the Marawi attack.
He said the terror groups aimed to establish an Islamic province in Mindanao, with Marawi as headquarters.
Speaking on Friday to troops in Iligan City, Duterte urged terrorists to hold a peaceful dialogue with the government, as he sought to end the conflict.
Abella said Duterte’s offer to the terrorists was to pave way for the observance of Ramadan.
“In this spirit of Muslim peace, the President has offered the hand of peaceful dialogue to terrorist groups, to avoid bloodshed in this time of prayer, fasting and mercy,” he said.
“With all faiths, we pray that God restore and preserve peace in Mindanao,” the Palace official added.
This year, Ramadan started May 27, Saturday. It will end on June 24.
For Muslims, Ramadan is the month when the first verses of the Quran, holy book of Islam, were revealed to Prophet Muhammad over 1,400 years ago.
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, sex, swearing and other sinful acts from dawn to sunset, to cleanse their soul and bring them closer to Allah (God).