Philippine prelates insist peace process must continue

Philippine Catholic leaders called for the peace process to move forward between the country’s largest Muslim rebel group and the government, days after a deadly encounter between fighters of the two sides in the country’s south.

The 12-hour battle on January 25 happened during a crucial stage in peacebuilding efforts between the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government.

Philippine officials said 44 commandos and about a dozen rebels were killed when a special police force pursuing two suspected terrorists clashed with some Front fighters in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province.

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro, one of the dioceses on Mindanao, called the deadly confrontation a “very unfortunate incident”.

“From the longer point of view we should continue to press for the peace process because this really marks the picture of more violence if no agreement is reached,” he said.