Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña said the lifting of martial law would bring back normalcy and development in the region.
Bishops back end of martial law in Mindanao
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - December 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Bishops based in Mindanao yesterday expressed support for a decision of President Duterte not to extend martial law.  

Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña said the lifting of martial law would bring back normalcy and development in the region. 

“It is a welcome development in Mindanao. It’s about time that we go back to normalcy. It has been two years now, almost three years. We cannot develop in the way we would expect with martial law still in place,” De la Peña said.

The city of Marawi, capital of Lanao del Sur, was the center of five months of fighting between the government security forces and the Maute terrorist group in 2017.

Residents were compelled to flee to avoid being caught in the crossfire and be taken hostage by the terrorists.

Ozamiz Archbishop Martin Jumoad said he trusts the decision of the President, although he believes that some areas of Mindanao should remain under martial law.

“If that would be best for all the people in Mindanao. But in my experience, the situation is really different if there is martial law in Basilan, Jolo, Tawi-Tawi and even in Maguindanao,” Jumoad said.

Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo welcomed the President’s decision.

“It means the peace and order situation has improved. It does not warrant anymore the martial law,” he said.

Bagaforo said the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao could have helped improved the situation in the region. 

“When you go there, there are no more wars. The only things left are the guerrillas, the Islamic freedom fighters. But in general, there are no more wars, unlike before. It is already peaceful,” Bagaforo said. 

He said the lifting of martial law would empower the local government in addressing issues. 

“This is good because it shows that the government trusts the local government,” Bagaforo said. 

Martial law in Mindanao will expire on Dec. 31.

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