Marawi bishop opposes martial law extension

Marawi bishop opposes martial law extension
Marawi bishop opposes martial law extension
In this file photo taken May 25, 2017, police officers check evacuees at a checkpoint outside Marawi City. CBCPNews

MANILA— The Catholic prelate of war-torn Marawi is opposing the government’s plan to extend the martial law in Mindanao.

Bishop Edwin de la Peña of Marawi favored the 60-day military rule in the region but said that extending it is no longer necessary.

After all, he said, the government can already deal with the situation in Marawi even without martial law.

“I am against martial law extension,” de la Peña said. “The first martial law declaration was fine but if they are going to use Marawi again to justify its extension, I don’t think it’s right.”

As the military continue conducting airstrikes in areas where the remaining bandits are positioned, he said that it is apparent that the enemy’s forces have weakened.

“With all the resources at their command, the government can address the crisis now even without martial law extension,” he said.

The government previously assured to end the clashes last June 2 but it failed to meet its self-imposed the deadline.

President Rodrigo Duterte instead wants to extend Martial Law in all of Mindanao until December 31 and Congress will convene a special session on Saturday, July 22, to tackle the matter.

The prelate claimed that an army rule is already causing discomfort to many people and affected business operations in Mindanao particularly in Iligan City and nearby areas.

“They made Marawi as justification for martial law but the government could not finish the war in 60 days. That sends a bad signal,” de la Peña said.

Catholic bishops in Mindanao have earlier acknowledged the need for martial in the region but stressed that it must only be “temporary”.

As a collegial body, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has not yet issued a categorical stand on the issue and instead called for “the return of normalcy and peace” in Marawi “as soon as possible.

“We wonder whether the continued state of martial law, much more its extension, will bring this about,” the bishops said after their plenary assembly in Manila last week. CBCPNews