Published June 26, 2017 12:13pm
Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday urged people not to discriminate against displaced Marawi City residents who are seeking shelter in nearby areas after fleeing from the war-torn city.
"I appeal to the public not to stoke the flames of Islamophobia. Discrimination breeds hate. It builds walls. It sustains unjust wars," Hontiveros said in a statement.
Hontiveros made the call after receiving reports that some house and apartment owners have refused to accommodate Maranaos after learning where they came from.
While she understands the concerns of the public for their security, Hontiveros said this should not be a cause for discrimination.
"This is the time for unity and solidarity. Amid these challenging times, we should not give in to our fears and prejudice. Let us not play into the script of the Maute terrorists, who want to sow fear and hate between Christians and Muslims," she said.
Hontiveros called on appropriate government agencies to ensure that the displaced Marawi City residents are given proper assistance and protection.
"The Duterte government must ensure that the well-being of all internally displaced persons are taken care of, including their protection from all forms of discrimination. They have suffered so much. Let us not add to their pain," she said.
Hontiveros, meanwhile, commended the military for implementing an eight-hour truce to allow Muslims in Marawi City to observe Eid’l Fitr on Sunday.
"I laud the AFP for exercising religious sensitivity even as it continues with its effort to defeat the Maute terrorist group. I hope that this series of good gestures from the military will extend to heeding the Filipino-Muslim community's call for an end to the indiscriminate aerial bombings," Hontiveros said.
"Even without Martial Law, I am confident that our brave and professional soldiers will be able to eliminate the terrorist threat in Marawi while respecting the cultural and religious sensitivities of our Muslim sisters and brothers," she added.
Five Marawi City residents were rescued during the “humanitarian pause,” which started at 6 a.m.
The ceasefire was supposed to end at 2 p.m., but the military agreed to extend it for two more hours to allow a humanitarian group led by Ulamas or Islamic religious leaders to look for more trapped civilians.
More than 300 people, mostly militants, have been killed in the ongoing conflict. It started with the attack of the Maute group on May 23, which prompted President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao. —Erwin Colcol/ALG/KVD, GMA News