President Rodrigo Duterte called on Muslim Filipinos to keep the faith as government forces continue to battle the terrorist Maute Group more than a month after it attacked Marawi City.
In his message during the celebration of Eid’l Fitr or the end of Ramadan, the President said faith and willpower will help the government and those affected by the siege.
“I join our Muslim Filipino community in celebration of Eid’l Fitr. The first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal always brings great joy to our Muslim brothers and sisters. May this renewed sense of spiritual accomplishment give you the courage to cultivate our communities. In times when all odds seem stacked against us, it is our willpower and faith that will always see us through,” Duterte said.
The President called on Muslims to help build a society that is grounded on love, mutual respect and understanding.
“May this special day bring happiness, peace and prosperity to everyone. Let us channel our energies towards fostering national unity—because dedicating our lives to the betterment of humanity is the best way to demonstrate our devotion to God,” Duterte added.
The President earlier apologized to residents of Marawi City for declaring martial law in Mindanao, saying that he did not have any choice because Maute members were destroying their city.
“I hope in the soonest time, you will find a new heart to forgive my soldiers, the government, even me for declaring martial law,” Duterte said.
Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo also joined Muslims in praying for peace on Sunday, assuring them that there are more Filipinos who are willing to make sacrifices for the sake of peace and security.
“We join them in praying for peace, and we also pray for our soldiers and police forces who are risking their lives in the battlefield. We hope that it is love, rather than hate, that prevails,” Robredo said in her radio show.
Senators said Eid’l Fitr should be a symbol of peace and unity.
“Let the occasion of Eid’l Fitr serve as symbol of our collective pursuit towards peace and unity, especially in this time when our solidarity as a nation is being put to test with the fighting in Marawi City,” said Sen. Grace Poe in a statement.
The senator noted that the religious event should be a time for great hope and courage.
“Let us stand together against the forces that seek to instill fear in us,” she added.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the occasion should make the public think of the importance of respect for others and unity.
Sen. Joel Villanueva expressed hope that Filipinos will be stronger and united when faith and resolve are tested.
“May this day serve as a reminder for each one of us to truly exemplify a teaching common to all religions – to embrace peace and love,” he said.