Address root cause of unrest, Catholic bishops urge gov’t
Amid the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao, Catholic bishops appealed to the government to wage peace by addressing poverty and other root causes of unrest in the region.
The prelates led by Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles noted that most of the communities in Mindanao favor the extension of military rule in the island for another year.
“We ask our public officials and local communities to undertake the more arduous task of waging peace. This means addressing the root causes of unrest. Poverty is the mother of war,” they said.
On December 21, the Mindanao bishops issued a statement on the extension of martial law titled: “Waging Peace, Winning Minds and Hearts.”
The statement was signed by Valles in his capacity as Davao archbishop, “with the approval of the bishops of Mindanao.”
It was in reaction to Congress’ decision to allow President Duterte’s request to extend military rule in Mindanao for another year, or up to December 31, 2018.
The President cited as his reasons the threats supposedly posed by communist rebels and terrorist groups, especially in the aftermath of the five-month Marawi City siege.
Last May 23, Duterte imposed military rule in Mindanao after the Maute terrorist group attacked Marawi City. This was extended to December 31, 2017.
The Mindanao prelates noted that extremists continue to recruit disillusioned youths and commit crimes rights to life, property, and religious fry
Leaders of other religions, added, should form the conscience of their constituents against the “blasphemous evil of using God’s name and one’s religious beliefs to kill innocent people.”
They called on the government to “push without undue delay the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed in Malacañang in March 2014.”
“Urgent efforts must be expended towards the re-building of Marawi with the consultation and full participation of the people of Marawi,” they added.
The bishops also lauded the galantry of the military, particularly the fallen heroes of Marawi, who died in the months-long siege, to defend the peace in Mindanao.
“We need to go beyond Marawi and Mamasapano so as to address the legitimate grievances of the Muslim community,” they stressed.
The prelates thanked law enforcers who “check the widespread malaise of drug addiction” while calling on them to check summary killings.
“As attested to in many parts of the country, the war on drugs can be won by vigorous police and community vigilance without resort to summary killings,” they said, citing drug rehabilitation programs carried out by local churches, civil society organizations and government agencies.