Emergency Rule, Not Martial Law, in Basilan

Monday, April 19th, 2010

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, April 17, 2010-Instead of martial law, it would be best to put Basilan under an emergency rule, a former top-ranking official of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said yesterday.

Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., D.D. said that martial law will only trigger more instability and perpetuate the insecurity of the people of Basilan.

"I am against the imposition of martial law in Basilan. I think what is needed there is not martial law but an emergency rule where the presence of the military and police are also intensified," he said.

Ledesma also urged the government to study all the possible consequences of whatever plan of action it will implement in Basilan in response to the "emergency" there.

The Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) attacked Basilan's capital city Isabela before noon Tuesday, killing at least 15 persons and damaging a great portion of the Sta. Isabel Cathedral.

Tuesday's bombings in Isabela prompted Isabela Prelature Bishop Martin S. Jumoad to call for the imposition of martial law in the island.

Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo had also urged the government to place Basilan under martial law.
But Malacaňang rejected calls for a declaration of martial law over Basilan Thursday.

Ledesma said he understood why Jumoad, Bagaforo and others called for martial law over Basilan.

He, however, said government must exercise prudence and caution in responding to the attacks so as not to let the conflict escalate all over the island.

"The attacks were confined to a portion of Basilan province only. The military and police must do all they can to prevent an escalation of the conflict throughout the whole island especially since May 10 election is very near," he said.

Ledesma also urged the Catholic faithful to pray for the victims and their families and join the whole Christian community in praying for the immediate restoration of peace and order in Basilan. (CBCPNews)

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