MANILA, Philippines (CNS) – Catholic bishops in the southern Philippines supported the declaration of martial law in Mindanao following an attempt by a band of gunmen claiming to be Islamic militants to seize a city in the region.
“At present we simply do not have solid and sufficient facts to absolutely reject the declaration of martial law as morally reprehensible,” the bishops’ said.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial laws across the southern part of the country after gunmen claiming to have links with the Islamic State group stormed Marawi May 23.
State security forces continued to battle with fighters of the Maute group May 29, resulting in the displacement of thousands of people.
“We are certainly agreed that martial law must be temporary,” the bishops of Mindanao said in the statement signed by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, ucanews.com reported.
The cardinal said the church leaders “condemn the terrorist acts that have caused the loss of many innocent lives” and the burning of houses, a Catholic cathedral and a Protestant school.
“We condemn the unconscionable kidnapping of teachers and church personnel,” the bishops said.
The gunmen took several hostages including Father Teresito Suganob, vicar of the Prelature of Marawi, some of the prelature’s staff and churchgoers.
The bishops condemned “terrorism in its various forms,” adding that it is an “ideology totally against the tenets of any religion of peace.”