The Ulama League of the Philippines on Thursday called on President Rodrigo Duterte to stop bombings in Marawi City and find other ways to purge the remaining terrorists there.
In a statement received by the military’s Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), the group expressed its support to the government’s campaign against the Islamic State-linked Maute Group but appealed that the air strikes be stopped.
“[W]hile we support this action and other programs of the government for peace and development, we are earnestly requesting the President of the Philippines to find other ways to purge out of Marawi the extremists rather than aerial bombings which have caused and is continuously causing damage to lives and property,” it said.
The Commission on Human Rights had earlier appealed to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to halt the air strikes to avoid civilian casualties.
Multi-sectoral groups based in Mindanao also urged the government to stop dropping bombs on the besieged city.
The Ulama League of the Philippines condemned the Maute group for portraying a negative image of Islam, causing destruction in Marawi, killing civilians and taking hostages.
The military said it respects the appeal of the ulamas but that it will continue with its air strikes.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, WestMinCom spokeswoman, said command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. noted the importance of air strikes.
She said mosques and religious iconic structures will not be bombed.
The Ulama council also committed its assistance for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi City, suggesting that the council be tapped to monitor the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the city.