Martial law in the southern Philippines and security forces’ clashes with a local terrorist group made a mockery of Independence Day celebrations, a bishop based in the Philippines said.
“As long as there is martial law and unrest in Marawi City, the ‘independence’ of our nation is a farce,” said Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon.
Independence day was celebrated on Monday three weeks after hundreds of Islamist militants overran Marawi City, the capital of the island Mindanao. The militants abducted Christians and burnt a cathedral in the mainly Muslim town.
Bishop Bastes said by declaring martial law, the government “tramples on the freedom of citizens”.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the southern region of Mindanao on May 23, after a local terrorist organisation claiming to have ties with the Islamic State group attempted to occupy Marawi.
“People are not in the mood for celebrating,” said the bishop, adding that he supported the demonstrations against the declaration of martial law “in my own little way”.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said the crisis in the southern Philippines is a call for all Filipinos to be “more patriotic, to be truly one, and united to love and labour for the good of the country”.
“We should work together to build our country, not to break it, to do our best and be a blessing to one another, not to divide nor destroy,” he said.