AN INTER-RELIGIOUS group is appealing to the public to stop disseminating fake news reports, saying these only sow confusion, unwarranted fears, and suspicion among the displaced families who already lost so much in the fighting between extremists and government forces.

The Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC), composed of Catholic bishops, Protestant bishops and pastors, and Muslim Ulama, said the public should instead use their time to call for the safety and release of all hostages and innocent civilians caught in the middle of the vicious conflict in Marawi.

The group, created in the late ‘90s to initiate dialogue aimed at improving understanding between Muslims and Christians, is also asking for more relief efforts that should be extended to the families and individuals that have been driven out of Marawi City.

"We, board members of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, express our solidarity and sympathies with all the families and communities – both Muslim and Christian –affected by the crisis in Marawi City," the statement says.

"We commend the hundreds of volunteers working with relief agencies who have offered their time and skills, for the much-needed assistance to internally displaced persons. We are also thankful for the many stories of Muslims and Christians helping each other and even risking their lives to safeguard the well-being of all," the BUC said.

Per reports, the total number of the internally displaced persons who fled Marawi since the fighting started on May 23 reached 252,282 individuals or 51,651 families.

According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the total cost of assistance extended by the evacuees amounted to P43.713 million, P41.846 million of which came from the agency’s funds.

Of the total amount, P27.475 million was allocated for food, and P14.370 for other forms of assistance.

Lanao del Norte Second District Representative Abdullah Dimaporo called on his fellow Maranaos to help authorities in their fight against the Maute Group.

“We cannot allow non-Maranaws to destroy Marawi while they do not do the same to their own place. Let us talk to our relatives who are with the Maute to break away from them and stop from destroying us. If they won’t, let us give information to the military as to who they are and where they are,” Dimaporo said in a text message.

He said the mayors must guard their respective municipalities from the insurgents and coordinate with the military.

The Maute Group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, a Middle East-based terrorist organization whose primary purpose is to establish a caliphate in the Arab region.

The Maute Group wants to make Mindanao a province of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia.