Marawi City (CNN Philippines, September 13) — A video was meant to show President Rodrigo Duterte's historic visit to the iconic Islamic Center Mosque inside the main battle area in Marawi City.
Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson's video posted on her social media account, however, exposed the group's failure to follow religious protocol during the visit.
In the video, Uson tails the entourage of the President entering the iconic mosque wearing their footwear as gunfire filled the air.
Ranao Rescue Team convenor Samira Tomawis pointed out that military and police officers, high ranking government officials including the President, moved around the mosque in their footwear - a "no-no" when entering a sacred Islamic place.
The President's entourage included Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Special Assistant to the President Bing Go, Uson, Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año and AFP Western Mindanao Command Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez.
"Estado kayo (You are the State), you are the rulers. You are the martial law administrator, gobyerno kayo (you are the government). Ipakita niyo naman na may respeto kayo. Humility man lang (Show some respect. Humility for that matter)," said Tomawis.
The former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao assemblywoman said Uson failed to wear a hijab or veil -- a required piece of clothing for women who wish to enter the mosque -- whether they are Muslim or not.
She reminded Uson that as part of the President's communications team, she must send the correct and accurate religious message to the public.
"Ang babae (A woman), Mocha, pag pumasok ka diyan, gaya ng ilang journalist (if she enters a religious place like other journalists), they will observe reportage in Muslim areas with the same attire of the communities," said Tomawis.
"Sana po (hopefully) as communications affairs, communicate with sensitivity to the public recognizing that there are protocols," Tomawis added.
In a statement, Lanao del Sur Crisis Management Committee Spokesman Zia Alonto Adiong said while they are thankful for the efforts of the government to liberate Marawi, they hope that religious standards and protocols such as respect for places of worship are maintained.
"We advise 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," said Adiong.
He pointed out that the Muslim police and military who carried out the Salahtul Jummah or Friday prayer inside the Islamic Center mosque were barefoot.
Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Joint Task Group Ranao, said observing sensitivity to religious beliefs and traditions is part of their training.
But they admitted they cannot do so much to stop high-ranking government officials from doing what they did inside the mosque.
"It's not within our level to decide that. But we have given advice... We are doing everything that we can do to respect the Muslim religion or Islam," Brawner said.
However, President Rodrigo Duterte said they meant no disrespect to their religion and culture.
"Yung nakita na nila puro rubbles ang glass eh. And ano, para ka matinik?" Duterte, speaking to the media in Taguig early Wednesday, said.
[Translation: They saw it was full of rubbles and glass. We will get injured.]