President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he did not intend to insult Muslims when he and a number of soldiers and government officials entered the Grand Mosque in Marawi while still wearing boots.
This was after several netizens accused Duterte of being religiously insensitive, after pictures of his unannounced fourth visit to Marawi on Monday were posted online.
It is common practice for Muslims to remove footwear before entering a mosque as a sign of respect for the place of worship.
PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, who posted a selfie video of Duterte’s visit to the Grand Mosque, was also criticized for not wearing a hijab, which is required for women.
Duterte said wearing footwear was necessary to protect themselves from injury.
“‘Yung nakita na nila puro rubble ang glass eh. And ano, para ka matinik? Tapos ‘pag ba na --- 'Ano ‘yan? Papa-tetanus ka na naman?' Makikita mo ‘yan sa floor --- may IED nga doon eh --- ‘yung pressure --- maraming basag na… Gusto mo mag-tinikling ka doon?” the President said.
He said the public should “not draw unpleasant inferences” about the incident, saying that as a grandson of a Moro, he is familiar with the religion and culture of Islam.
“I respect Islam, it was not meant to disrespect or dishonor. Ayaw ko lang matinik pati ‘yung lahat. Kasi matanda na --- Ang pumasok si Esperon, ako, si --- alam mo kapag masugatan kaming mga matatanda na, p*****, ang tagal mag-heal,” Duterte said.
During his visit, the President once again toured the main battle area in Marawi and gave a talk to soldiers.
“Kaya lang kami doon nag-standby, kay ayaw man rin ng ground commander doon, nandoon kami sa ano, pumuputok. Ako, gusto ko tignan, sabi niya, “Huwag, diyan ka lang.”
"Sabi niya, 'Pumasok ka, kasi ‘yung bala,'" Duterte said.