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A voice of protest against martial law in the Philippines, from the church

A voice of protest against martial law in the Philippines, from the church

Violence in the Philippines has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law on the island of Mindanao, and suggest he may expand that countrywide, according to the Washington Post and other media.

Anglican News reports that the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) has protested Duterte’s declaration of martial law and called that it be lifted in a statement (link to full document is here):

The CCA General Secretary,  Dr. Mathews George Chunakara, said that President Duterte must address the root causes of the conflicts and violence not only in Mindanao but in the Philippines in general:  “We believe that the declaration of martial law does not solve fundamental problems. Peace can only be attained when the root causes of armed conflicts are addressed through diligent efforts ” he said.

Dr  Mathews George added that the CCA shares the concerns expressed by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) that, “placing the entire island under martial law only sends a chilling effect on the general populace” and that “the sudden declaration of martial law is bound to make matters worse.”

The CCA also condemned the Maute terrorist group for taking church people and teachers as hostages, destroying properties, as well as occupying schools, a hospital and a parish.

More from the Washington Post:

Since winning the presidency a year ago, the words “martial law” have rarely been far from Duterte’s lips. On Tuesday, as fighting broke out between the army and Islamist insurgents, he cut short a trip to Moscow and fulfilled his own prediction, declaring martial law across a vast swath of the southern Philippines. At least 21 people have been reported killed in the fighting.

On Wednesday, as insurgents rampaged through the city of Marawi, reportedly taking a Catholic priest and worshipers hostage and torching buildings, Duterte told Filipinos the law would be as “harsh” as it was under Ferdinand Marcos, the country’s longtime dictator whose martial-law-era abuses still loom large.

An April 29 phone call between Donald Trump and Duterte covered topics including North Korean president From the Post’s reporting of that earlier this week:

Since taking office in June, Duterte has moved to hedge on the Philippines’ long-standing defense alliance with the United States by establishing closer relations with China. And his administration has overseen a brutal extrajudicial campaign that has resulted in the killings of thousands of suspected drug dealers.

Trump has not spoken out against that strategy, and in their call he praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”

“Many countries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that,” Trump said, according to the transcript.

After Duterte replied that drugs are the “scourge of my nation now and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation,” Trump appeared to take a swipe at his predecessor, Barack Obama, who had canceled a bilateral meeting with Duterte after the Philippines leader insulted him.

“I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that,” Trump said.

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