The military on Wednesday retracted an earlier statement that they will no longer hold off hitting places of worship in Marawi, clarifying that they will not bomb mosques and masjids (central mosques) that Maute terrorists are using as hiding places.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año himself ordered the troops to "respect these areas, these places of worship," said AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.
"There is a guarantee that the Chief of Staff himself has said, we consider mosques as sacred areas and we will not hit them as much as we can, we will not bomb them," Padilla told ANC's Headstart.
Padilla also called on the Muslims to "quell" the talk on the military's supposed bombing of their place of worship, adding that there was no mosque that had been hit by the airstrikes.
In an announcement Tuesday, LTC Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesperson of Joint Task Force Marawi, said the mosques have lost their sacredness and the military may soon fire at these terrorists or bomb the entire mosque.
"Habang tumatagal, yung mga mosque, unti-unti nang nawawalan ng bisa in terms of their sacredness," he said.
"As long as ginagamit nila ito, we can fire at them as target of opportunity. Kung ito ay ginagamit na position bilang taguan, tambakan ng bomba, machine gun nest," he added.
But Padilla clarified, if the Maute terrorists use the high areas of these mosques as sniper lairs, "we may hit on those areas alone, but we will not bomb the mosque itself."
The fighting in the southern city of Marawi entered its fourth week on Tuesday, a day after the country commemorated the 119th anniversary of its liberation from Spanish colonizers.
The clashes have left more than a hundred people dead, including soldiers and civilians.