The Armed Forces of the Philippines is studying the possibility of attacking mosques that were converted into enemy strongholds by ISIS-linked Maute members in Marawi City.
AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. on Monday said that some international laws would allow attack on places of worship. However, he stressed that AFP chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año ordered the soldiers to avoid such attack.
“There are provisions that may allow for us to take action against them… Pinag-aaralan naming mabuti. Hindi ko sasabihing titirahin pero pinag-aralan namin mabuti, kasi may kautusan si chief of staff that we will avoid doing that as much as possible,” he said after the Mindanao Hour in Malacañang.
“May exemption. Maski sinong tao na armado na nag-harbor sa isang lugar, maging ospital man ito o places of worship, kung sila nagpupumilit at manatili doon, may provision doon internationally na pwede silang gamitan ng karahasan,” he added.
The government previously revealed that the Maute fighters who attacked Marawi City on May 23 used humans as shields and turned madrasahs into staging areas and mosques into sniper nests.
The Geneva Conventions prohibit any act of hostility against places of worship and cultural properties and objects.
According to the AFP Standing Rules of Engagement, “cultural, religious and historical landmarks, civilian population centers, public utilities and other non-military structures, shall be protected and shall not be attacked except when they are used for military purposes.”
AFP to Maute: Surrender
During the briefing, Padilla asked the Maute to surrender to completely avoid attacking mosques in Marawi City.
“Kaya nga po pasensyoso nating pinapaabot ang ating panawagan, maski magmukha na po tayong sirang plaka, na sila ay magbaba ng armas at sumuko dahil sa iyong pagkakataong sinasabi mo ay ayaw nating mangyari,” he said.