MANILA � A bishop on Friday appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte not to put Negros Oriental under martial law, claiming it would not solve the problems there.
We also appeal to the President not to declare 'Martial Law' in Negros, as Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo insinuated that the President will use his emergency powers to 'quell lawless violence and crush all forms of threat', San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said in a statement.
Martial Law is neither the answer to the centuries-old agrarian problem nor to the decades of armed rebellion. Martial rule during the Marcos era did not lead to genuine peace; instead, it worsened the insurgency problem, he said.
He also urged the government to address the roots of armed conflict for a just and lasting peace.
As we pray for justice and for the souls of our dear departed who became victims of the Negros killing fields, once more, we fervently express our people's longing for peace and our urgent cry to end the killings, Alminaza said.
We are saddened that instead of negotiating for an end to armed hostilities, the government has recently deployed 300 elite police Special Action Force commandos in the Negros island, he added.
He reiterated that peace will not be achieved by engaging in combat.
We remind both sides of the armed conflict that genuine peace can never be achieved through military adventurism and tit-for-tat conflict. We reiterate our call for integral peace, one that addresses the roots of social injustice, he said.
We believe that the first step to integral peace is the continuation of peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), Alminaza added.
He asked both sides to declare a unilateral ceasefire and embrace the pathways to peace such as addressing socio-economic reforms such as land reform, national industrialization, and the provision of social services like health, education, and housing.
News reports said at least 17 persons were killed in different towns and cities in Negros Oriental since July 23 following the capture and killing of four police intelligence officers by suspected members of the Communists Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency