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Duterte on wearing boots inside Marawi mosque: It was not meant to disrespect

President Rodrigo Duterte poses with troops during his fourth visit to Marawi City. Special Assistant to the President Bong Go

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday answered accusations of religious insensitivity against him after he and other government officials were seen wearing boots inside a mosque in Marawi City, a Muslim-majority city in the predominantly Catholic Philippines.

Duterte, together with some the country’s top security officials, visited the besieged southern city for the fourth time last Monday, where he also inspected the city’s Grand Mosque that was recently recaptured by troops from ISIS-linked terrorists.

In a media interview, Duterte maintained he respects Islam, adding that his action “was not meant to disrespect or dishonor.”

"‘Yung nakita na nila puro rubbles ang glass eh. And ano, para ka matinik? ‘Ano ‘yan? Papa-tetanus ka nanaman?’ Makikita mo ‘yan sa floor—may IED nga doon eh—‘yung pressure—maraming basag na… Gusto mo mag-tinikling ka doon?” Duterte explained.

READ: Duterte on 'lousy' uniform: I went there as a CAFGU

He said he could not go inside the mosque barefoot considering the shards of glass scattered on the floor and the possible presence of improvised explosive device (IED).

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He added that given his age, it would take longer for his wounds to heal once he gets injured for not wearing boots.

“When you are old, the healing is very, very slow. Kaya kami takot matumba because kung ma-fracture, ganun,” he said.

Removing shoes when entering mosques is an etiquette being followed by Muslims. Muslim women, meanwhile, must wear a hijab, or a head covering, when inside places of worship.

READ: Duterte visits Marawi for the fourth time

Aside from Duterte, Palace Communications Secretary Mocha Uson, who was with the president in Marawi, also drew flak on social media after she reportedly posted a video showing her inside the Grand Mosque with her boots on.

Netizens also called out Uson for not wearing a hijab while inside the mosque.

In a statement, Zia Alonto Adiong, Lanao Del Sur Provincial Crisis Management Committee, advised government officials to “prudently carry out their mandate in a manner that conforms with religious standards and protocols when entering religious establishments.”

“We would also reiterate that it is also our moral obligation, civilians and officials alike, to guide our actions based on religious sensitivities and common respect towards religious establishments of every faith,” Adiong said.

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