Philippines: Urgent call to action regarding the ongoing violence in Marawi City

The international community should call on the Philippine government to end the violence in Marawi City and help with humanitarian aid.

Pax Christi International together with its member Pax Christi Philippines is deeply concerned about the continuing violence in Marawi city, which has entered its second week and resulted in more than a hundred casualties, including 19 civilians. Thousands have fled to evacuation camps with pressing humanitarian needs – such as food and water, sleeping material and psychosocial support. The fighting between the Maute group, that has alleged links to ISIS, and the Philippine Army carries on while thousands of civilians are trapped.

On 26 May 2017, Pax Christi Pilipinas Bishop-President Archbishop Antonio Ledesma met with NGOs, academics, religious communities, university students, cooperatives and city government officials to discuss the situation and how it can be helped. These groups are providing humanitarian help to the people who have fled and are intensively monitoring the situation on the ground.

As of Sunday, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has recorded a total of 84,460 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are either staying in designated evacuation centres or in their relatives’ houses in nearby towns in Lanao del Sur or Iligan City. Its crisis management centre has also confirmed at least 3,717 stranded individuals and 59 missing persons in the city. (1)

With regards to missing persons, along with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), we are extremely worried about Father Chito Suganob and fellow parishioners of the Cathedral of Our Lady Help of Christians taken hostage by the Maute fighting group. They have threatened to kill the hostages if the government forces unleashed against them are not recalled. (2) Father Chito was seen on television last night appealing for the cessation of air strikes. Father Chito is reported to have roughly 200 civilians with him as hostages.

Moreover, the violence prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entirety of Mindanao under martial law. Despite the declaration of martial law, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vowed to abide by the rule of law and respect human rights and international humanitarian law.

Immediate actions requested from the international community:

  • Help the residents of Marawi city with humanitarian aid while coordinating with local Church, civil society, government and others on the ground.
  • Take political actions to pressure the Philippine government to immediately stop the airstrikes and other acts of violence that are destroying innocent lives and property.
  • Ask the Philippine government to undertake all possible efforts for Father Chito Suganob and his parishioners to be released and be brought back to safety.
  • Support dialogue between the government and the fighting groups because many believe that the failure of the government to pass a law that would have given the Muslims greater autonomy stirred frustration and encouraged radicalization.
  • Call on the government to ardently pursue the peace process while continuing to offer economic, social and political support for promoting peace and development in Mindanao.

(For a PDF version of this statement, click here.)

Contact person: Alice Kooij Martinez, advocacy officer Pax Christi International, a.kooij@paxchristi.net

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1. Autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao, ‘ARMM ready to provide humanitarian interventions in Marawi crisis’, 29 May 2017, online at: https://armm.gov.ph/armm-ready-provide-humanitarian-interventions-marawi....
2. CBCP, ‘Statement #Pray for Marawi, 24 May 2017, online at: http://cbcpnews.net/cbcpnews/pray-for-marawi/. 

 

Marawi City, Pax Christi Philippines, Pax Christi Pilipinas, Philippines