A Catholic bishop in the southern Philippine city of Marawi dismissed as “ridiculous” proposals to negotiate for the release of a priest held captive by terrorist gunmen.
Speaking at a conference in the northern province of Pangasinan, Bishop Edwin de la Pena of Marawi said “there is no way we can dialogue” with extremists, according to reports.
The bishop said that for the past four decades, the Catholic Church’s response to war and conflicts in the southern region of Mindanao has been dialogue.
“We can only dialogue with like-minded people,” he told a gathering last week at the Solidarity Congress for Persecuted Christians.
The gathering was sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need, a pontifical foundation that supports victims of persecution.
He said people who have fallen victim to extremism, those who “experience so much pain…are all the people who are open to have a dialogue with us”.
Security forces in southern Philippines continue to battle with terrorist gunmen who claim to have links with the so-called Islamic State.
The gunmen, belonging to the local Maute terror group, attacked Marawi on May 23 and burned the city’s Catholic cathedral and a Protestant school. They kidnapped Fr Teresito Soganub and several church workers.
The government said the terrorists are still holding about 100 hostages who are being used as human shields.