Bishop backs martial law in Mindanao but…

Bishop backs martial law in Mindanao but…

Youth activists light candles at Mendiola in Manila to condemn the attack of terrorist group Maute in Marawi City, May 24, 2017. They also opposed President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao. ROY LAGARDE

A Catholic archbishop has given his blessing to the declaration of martial law in Mindanao for as long as there will no military abuses and human rights are guaranteed.

Archbishop Martin Jumoad of Ozamiz said the government needs to step up efforts to restore peace and order in Lanao del Sur and other provinces.

“I am for the imposition of martial law provided a mechanism has to be established so that human rights will not be violated,” he said.

Critics have warned that the declaration martial law in Mindanao, where the military is supreme, could lead to abuses.

The archbishop, who served as Basilan prelate for 14 years until he was transferred to Ozamiz last year, warned people to be “extra-careful” and “cooperate” with the military particularly those in the Islamic City of Marawi.

He said the military foiled the planned Abu Sayyaf attack in Bohol province last month because of the cooperation of the people with the authorities.

“If the people will not cooperate with the armed forces, things could get more complicated,” Jumoad said.

President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday has placed the entire island of Mindanao under martial law following a gun battle between the government forces and member of the Maute group in Marawi.

The city has around 200,000 people, with only about 1.5 percent Catholics.

The militants also took some people as hostage including Fr. Chito Suganob, vicar general of the Marawi prelature, and several staff of St. Mary’s Cathedral which was set on fire.

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato appealed to the ISIS-linked militants not to harm their hostages “as the Islamic faith teaches”.

“I pray for the safety of all the hostages,” Quevedo said. “I appeal to religious leaders of Islam to influence the hostage-takers to release the hostages unharmed. For God’s will is the safety of innocent people.” CBCPNews