AFP doubts violence over anti-Muslim film

By Jorge Carino, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 18 2012 05:06 PM | Updated as of Sep 19 2012 01:06 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Tuesday said it doubts that local protests against the movie "Innocence of Muslims" will become violent, similar to the ones in the Middle East.

AFP Spokesman Col. Marcelo Burgos said Tuesday that yesterday's protest of Muslims in Marawi City is just an expression of their sentiment. "Confined naman doon sa lugar at controlled naman dun yung situation," he said.

He told reporters that they have not received nor monitored anything unusual in the Southern Philippines.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Ibrahim Al Hadj Murad announced over the weekend that they will not join in the fray.

The AFP welcomed the MILF's stand on the issue, but Burgos said the military will move fast and will further intensify their intelligence operations to pre-empt any untoward incidents.

Marawi protest

About 3,000 Filipino Muslims burned US and Israeli flags in a protest on Monday over an American anti-Islam film that has sparked unrest worldwide.

The protesters in the southern city of Marawi gathered in a public square to express their anger at the movie, stamping on huge American and Israeli flags that they then set on fire.

The protesters carried placards saying, "Americans are satanic" and "Israeli Jews... enemy of Muslim Ummah (community)" in the Muslim-majority city with some protesters calling on President Benigno Aquino to ban the film.

However, there were no untoward incidents during the rally.

Meanwhile, Aquino told reporters he did not have the power to ban the low-budget US film that has sparked fury across the Islamic world.

"Don't forget in our constitution, we have freedom of expression and we are not allowed to have laws limiting freedom of speech," he said.

However he said the government movie censors board could ban the movie from being shown in local theatres or television.

In the wake of the global unrest, security has been tightened at foreign embassies and ambassadors' residences and even for US troops based in the country's south to help train local soldiers to hunt Al-Qaeda linked extremists. With Agence France-Presse