The Ateneo de Davao University condemns the violence and terrorism that victimized Marawi City.  It was perpetrated by an extremist group that uses murder, hatred and destruction to propagate its ideology of religious intolerance.  This violence is not confined to Marawi but increasingly threatens all the peoples of Mindanao-Sulu.  Committed just days before Ramadan, the violence shows the callous cynicism of the perpetrators towards the peace-loving Muslims of Marawi City and of Mindanao-Sulu.  We commiserate with the victims in Marawi and wherever such violence may occur in our troubled nation.

In response, the President has imposed martial law throughout Mindanao-Sulu.  Guided by our love for peace and our love for Mindano, we pray for our President and our security forces.  We declare ourselves ready to collaborate critically with government in the restoration of peace. However, recalling the dark experiences of martial law in Mindanao under Ferdinand Marcos, we also express our deep concern about how it might be implemented today.  We do not want a repetition of the horrors of Marcos’ martial law.  With the bishops of Mindanao, we call on our President to orient the military towards a martial law that protects the people and leads to peace. Martial law must respect human rights, for it is ultimately in defense of human rights that it is imposed.  Martial law does not suspend the civil and political rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

We fervently hope that the Government considers that the military solution tends to defeat itself.  Bombs and bullets create martyrs, which inspire more radicalized fighters.  They cause collateral damage, which create more innocent suffering, righteous indignation and hatred for government.  Or, hatred for rebels or religious radicals, as the case may be.   The bombs and bullets of the government, the MNLF, the MILF and even of the CPP-NPA-NDFP have not helped.  They have only caused more suffering and deeper levels of inhumanity.  As President Duterte himself has stated, we cannot build this nation on the cadavers of our citizens.

As violence has warranted the imposition of martial law, so may wisdom and peace warrant its lifting soonest.  Let us not lose sight of Ambisyon 2040 where for the next generation we envision a society of educated Filipinos of diverse religions living together in peace because poverty shall have been overcome.

Let us therefore not obliterate one another in our differences, but cooperate in our diversity to bring about a happy future in our common home.  Let us support the work for the Bangsamoro Basic Law and return to the negotiating tables for peace in social justice.  Let us build our infrastructure.  But let us build our people first.

Let us work together to make it happen.

God bless Mindanao!   Mubarak Ramadan!  God’s peace for all!

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