Muslim religious leaders urge Mautes to leave Marawi

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — The Sultanate and Imams in Lanao urged the Maute terror group to leave Marawi City in the name of peace and humanity.

The appeal was one of the pleadings in an open letter to President Rodrigo Duterte signed by 22 Sultans and Imams who asked the President to end the armed hostilities in Marawi as soon as possible before the end of the Holy Month of Ramadhan on Monday.

“All of us condemn the act of terrorism in any form,” the group said in the letter, praying that the crisis would end “without added collateral damage.”

They also told the President that most of the members of the militant group that wreaked havoc in Marawi City for 24 days now are not Maranaos.

Supporters from Basilan, Sulu and Zamboanga as well as those from Indonesia, Malaysia, Yemen and India were reportedly joined the Maute terror group in engaging the government troops, the Maranao leaders said.

Colonel Cerilo Thomas Donato, assistant division commander of the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, has clarified over a radio interview that the Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP) as well as the Philippine National Police is not yet giving a go signal for the evacuees to Marawi City.

“The firefight in Marawi is still going on. So, it is not yet safe for the evacuees to return,” Donato explained. Ercel Maandig/