By Glazyl Masculino and Martin Sadongdong
BACOLOD CITY – Bishop Gerardo Aminaza of San Carlos Diocese in Negros Occidental on Thursday appealed to President Duterte to not declare martial law in Negros.
Gerardo made the call after Malacañang said the President might place Negros Oriental province under martial law to put an end to the killings blamed on the New People’s Army (NPA).
Alminaza said in a press statement martial law is neither the answer to the centuries-old agrarian problem nor to the decades of armed rebellion, adding that the martial rule during the era of late President Ferdinand Marcos did not lead to genuine peace; instead, it worsened the insurgency problem.
He said the first step to integral peace should be the continuation of negotiations between the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
“We remind both sides of the armed conflict that genuine peace can never be achieved through military adventurism and tit-for-tat conflict. We reiterate our call for integral peace, one that addresses the roots of social injustice,” the bishop said.
The bishop also reacted to the recent order of Philippine National Police chief, Oscar Albayalde to send 300 Special Action Force (SAF) troops to Negros, following recent spate of killings in Negros Oriental.
Last week, 16 persons were killed in separate incidents involving unidentified armed men and suspected rebels.
Among those killed was a former town mayor, an incumbent councilor, two village chiefs, a rebel returnee, and a peasant leader
The commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, which oversees military operations in Negros, on Friday supported placing Negros Oriental under military rule.
Major Gen. Dinoh Dolina said the decision of whether to place Negros Oriental under martial rule “is a political decision” and the state forces are just the implementor of the rules.
“We should rely on the wisdom of our duly-constituted authorities that everything will be done to promote the welfare of every Filipino citizen. As such, we will be ready to support and abide to the President’s decision to whether declare martial law in the province,” Dolina said.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde declined from getting drawn into the martial law debate, saying only he had yet to receive orders from the President.
“There are no indications and the President has not said anything about it to us,” Albayalde said.