Christian churches slam martial law in Mindanao
MANILA, Philippines – Christian churches slammed President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in the whole of Mindanao, and urged Duterte to lift military rule in the island group.
"The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) expresses grave concern over the undue haste in declaring martial law in the whole of Mindanao," NCCP general secretary Reverend Rex Reyes Jr said in a statement sent to the media Thursday, May 25.
"We urge our President to lift martial law at the soonest possible time, and address the issues that gave rise to this conflict, not through an all-out war but through peaceful means. We believe peaceful resolutions are possible," Reyes added.
Founded in 1963, the NCCP describes itself as "the largest non-Catholic church organization in the Philippines."
The NCCP lists the following as its members:
- Apostolic Catholic Church (founded in 1992)
- Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (1935)
- Episcopal Church in the Philippines (1901)
- Iglesia Evangelica Metodista En Las Islas Filipinas (1909)
- Iglesia Filipina Independiente (1902)
- Iglesia Unida Ekyumenikal (1995)
- Lutheran Church in the Philippines (1946)
- The Salvation Army (1937)
- United Church of Christ in the Philippines (1948)
- The United Methodist Church (1898)
The group also includes the following as associate members:
- Association of Christian Schools and Colleges
- Consortium of Christian Organizations for Rural-Urban Development
- Ecumenical Church Foundation
- Lingap Pangkabataan
- Kaisang Buhay Foundation
- Manila Community Services
- Philippine Bible Society
- Student Christian Movement of the Philippines
- Union Church of Manila
Martial law sends 'chilling effect'
The NCCP issued this statement after Duterte on Tuesday, May 23, declared martial law in Mindanao due to attacks by the terrorist Maute Group in Marawi City. (READ: Martial law in Mindanao: Duterte's warning fulfilled)
Duterte on Wednesday, May 24, also said he might expand martial law to the whole of the Philippines if terrorist threats persist.
In the NCCP statement on Wednesday, Reyes pointed out that issues in Mindanao "are complex." He said "the sudden declaration of martial law" will "make matters worse" and civilians "more vulnerable."
"We believe that placing the entire island under martial law only sends a chilling effect on the general populace," Reyes said.
The NCCP then urged the public "to be vigilant" for possible human rights violations. The group called "for sobriety in speech" as well. They also requested their member-churches in Mindanao to monitor events "and let their voices be heard."
Reyes said: "We invite everyone to prayer, that civilians will be protected and served, that our rights and civil liberties will be respected and observed, that the malicious intent to sow war in the region will come to naught and peace and calm settle in strife-weary Mindanao. May God's mercy and peace engulf us all." – Rappler.com