Mindanao bishops declare ‘martial law must be temporary’

archbishop orlando quevedo
‘PURSUE PEACE.’ Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo stresses the need for peace in a statement on martial law issued on behalf of the Catholic bishops of Mindanao. File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

‘We shall condemn any abuse of martial law and as in the past will condemn it outright if it goes in the way of evil,’ the Catholic bishops of Mindanao say

MANILA, Philippines (May 28, 2017) — The Catholic bishops of Mindanao said on Friday, May 26, that martial law in Mindanao “must be temporary” as they vowed to condemn any abuse of military rule.

“We have many fears. But at present we simply do not have solid and sufficient facts to absolutely reject the declaration of martial law as morally reprehensible. But we are certainly agreed that martial law must be temporary,” Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo said on behalf of the bishops of Mindanao.

“We shall condemn any abuse of martial law and as in the past will condemn it outright if it goes in the way of evil. Let us be vigilant,” Quevedo said.

The bishops of Mindanao issued this statement 3 days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the southern Philippines.

Duterte’s declaration was prompted by an attack by the terrorist Maute Group in Marawi City and other threats by the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.

Duterte said he might also expand martial law to the entire Philippines if terror threats persist.

‘We condemn terrorism’

Quevedo wrote: “Our Catholic faithful have asked for pastoral guidance regarding martial law. We are guided by the Sacred Scriptures and by the social teachings of the Church. Saint Paul exhorts us to ‘pursue what leads to peace’ (Rom. 14: 19).”

The cardinal added as questions for discernment: “Martial law is a means of last resort. Are moral principles fulfilled? Were other means to resolve the deep and wide serious problems of Mindanao impractical and ineffective? Will the positive effects of martial law outweigh the negative effects? Will there be probability of success? Will it bring about a culture of accountability and end a culture of impunity? Will martial law increase human rights violations? Will martial law be abused for evil purposes?”

At the same time, the bishops condemned the ongoing terrorist acts in Mindanao, including the burning of homes and the kidnapping of teachers and church personnel, including Father Teresito Soganub.

Quevedo said: “In the strongest terms we condemn terrorism in its various forms. It is an ideology that is totally against the tenets of any religion of peace. Especially so when terrorism is perpetrated while our Muslim brothers and sisters are preparing for the holy month of Ramadan.”

“Terrorism distorts and falsifies the true meaning of any religion. It destroys harmonious relationships among peoples of different faiths. It creates a world of suspicion and prejudice, of hatred and hostility,” the first cardinal from Mindanao said.

  by Paterno Esmaquel II | Rappler.com