Manila (AsiaNews) – A few days before Ramadan, Cardinal Rosales and other Filipino bishops have appealed to the government and Islamic guerrillas to end the violence that is devastating the southern province of Mindanao. The prelate, who is archbishop of Manila, stressed that violence leads to desperation across the country, especially among civilians.
“If it's criminal, then address it. But why are the people turning criminal in the first place?" Rosales said.
In appealing to the government, he urged the authorities to listen to the populations and respond to their needs. In his opinion the ongoing conflict is caused by personal differences and interests.
Ramadan, which is set to start on September 12 or 13, is traditionally a time for fasting and other spiritual activities. It is a time to commemorate the Qur’an’s “revelation” to Muhammad. Tradition has it in fact that most suras were “revealed” during this holy month.
Given its holiness, Mgr Ramon Arguelles, archbishop of Lipa, called on everyone to end the conflict as soon as possible. “Violence should not be resolved with violence,” he said. “Never has the Church been in favour of any offensive, only of peace and dialogue."
Finally, Mgr Roberto Mallari, auxiliary bishop of San Fernando, also called on the parties to show goodwill, urging them to “pursue dialogue to prevent further bloodshed.”
Ustadz Omar Pasigan, spiritual leader of Muslims in the southern archipelago, recalled that it was forbidden for Muslim followers to kill without reason, even if the target was an unbeliever. He urged rebels to go for peace talks with Manila.
Farming is the main activity for 80 per cent of the population of a region known as the country’s rice greenery. The local Church has undertaken various social development initiatives, including women’s empowerment and a feeding programme for children.
The Islamist occupation lasted 148 days. More than 1,000 people killed, mostly rebels. Marawi's operations cost 5 billion pesos (about 95 million euros). Fears of terrorist infiltrations in Mindanao Island.