The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) has expressed serious concerns about the declaration of martial law on Tuesday in Mindanao in southern Philippines by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The CCA, a fellowship of churches and ecumenical councils in Asia, issued a statement calling on President Duterte to lift the martial law which subjects the people of southern Philippines to curfews, checkpoints and other restraints on their human rights.
Muslim separatists and other rebels are fighting the army on Mindanao. In the lastest violence, Mr Duterte said insurgents had beheaded a policeman on the southern island and at least three other members of the security forces are reported to have been killed. Civilians were also taken hostage and properties damaged.
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.