Bishop fears escalation of violence after Ramadan

A Catholic bishop fears an outbreak of further violence in Sothern Philippines after the Muslims’ celebration of Ramadan.
Jolo Bishop Angelito Lampon said they are bracing up for possible escalation of hostilities because just like what happened in the past years.

“Usually, something happens after Ramadan. That is our experience… that’s why we take extra-precautionary measures,” said Lampon over Church-run Radyo Veritas Thursday.

In fact, he said, that is also the reason why they welcome the decision of the police and military and leadership to go on heightened alert as early as last Monday.

“It’s just proper that they’re on heightened alert to preempt any untoward incidents,” Lampon added.

The military and the police said their decision to go on full alert status is aimed at ensuring that bad elements cannot sow violence.

They said it is also a precautionary measure against possible retaliatory attacks from the Abu Sayyaf bandits after its commander and two of his men were killed by the police’sSpecial Action Force last week.

Bishop Lampon then appealed to those planning to sow fear and violence to just forego their plans.

“We pray that their sacrifices would bear fruit towards peace, save life, to Allah. We can work together towards development of harmony and peace,” he stressed.

Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, for his part, said that after Ramadan is the best time to pursue the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Ledesma chairs the Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

According to him, the Church hopes that stalled peace negotiations with the 12,000-strong MILF that has been fighting for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao would finally resume.

The government and the rebels earlier announced that peace talks in Mindanao would resume after the end of the Muslim fasting month.

“We hope that this will be an occasion of reinforcing our peace process. For us in the Bishops-Ulama Conference, we say we should all work for peace not just the leaders but also the local community,” said Ledesma.

Malacañang had already declared the Muslim celebration of Eid ul-Fit’r on Friday, the end of Ramadan, as a non-working holiday. CBCPNews

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