President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday addressed accusations of religious insensitivity after he and some gov’t officials were seen wearing boots inside a mosque in conflict-torn Marawi City.
“I respect Islam, it (wearing of boots) was not meant to disrespect or dishonor,” Duterte told reporters in an early morning press conference after visiting the wakes of two soldiers at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The President explained they had to wear boots since there were a lot of broken and sharp objects on the ground and pieces of rubbles inside the mosque.
“Yung nakita na nila puro rubbles 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?” he said.
(You will notice there were broken glasses in the rubbles. You can hurt your feet. So, you can get tetanus? You can see it on the floor… there were even IEDs there. A lot of broken… You want to dance tinikling there?)
The President, who was with National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., during the mosque visit, said it would be hard for them to recuperate from wounds sustained for not wearing boots.
“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,” he said.
(I just don’t want the rest of us to get our feet injured. We are old. When Esperon entered, then me… You know, when old people like us get wounded, healing process takes too long.)
“Because when you are old, the healing is very, very slow. Kaya kami takot matumba because kung ma-fracture, ganun (That is why we are careful not to fall down because when our bones get fractured, it is like that),” he said.
Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and another female official were also criticized for not wearing a hijab, a Muslim clothing to cover their hair, while inside the mosque.
In Islam practices, Muslims are obliged to take off their footwear and women must wear a hijab while inside a mosque.
The President, together with some military officials, visited for the fourth time the war-torn Marawi City on Monday.
Zia Alonto Adiong, Lanao Del Sur Provincial Crisis Management Committee, has issued a statement on the issue.
“We advice caution to our officials to prudently carry out their mandate in a manner that conforms with religious standards and protocols when entering religious establishments in order to maintain respect to the sensitive nature of places of worship,” he said in a statement.
Duterte told Marawi residents he had no intention to dishonor their religion.
“Do not draw unpleasant inferences because nobody wants to dishonor a religion, me especially,” he said. /jpv
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