MANILA, Sept. 9, 2013— A Catholic bishop has appealed for prayer to avert widening of clashes between Muslim rebels and the government troops in Zamboanga City.
Digos Bishop Guillermo Afable asked for reconciliation in Southern Philippines, saying that armed conflict will not bring peace but will just sow seeds for more violence.
“Just like what Pope Francis said, let’s continue praying for peace in the world because all these conflicts are interconnected and are works of Satan,” Afable said over Radio Veritas.
Msgr. Crisologo Manongas, current administrator of Zamboanga archdiocese, also appealed to end violence in the area.
He said that dialogue and negotiation are the only way to putting an end to the conflict in Mindanao.
“We can live in peace. The history of Zamboanga since time immemorial is that we lived in peace here. The conflict is caused by political ambitions and not of religion. It is more of power control,” he said.
At least six people have been reported killed, including a policeman, naval personnel, and 4 civilians and 24 others wounded as the Moro National Liberation Front attacked several coastal villages in the city on Monday.
The rebel group was also holding more than 200 civilians hostages. Their primary demand is to be able to declare independence from the Philippine government.
Manongas said school and work have been suspended immediately as clashes continue between the soldiers and the rebels.
He also said that the city and entire province are now on heightened alert amid alleged plans by the rebels to infiltrate the Zamboanga City and the cathedral.
“That’s why the evacuees are somewhere in Ateneo, some are in their relatives… a little distance from the cathedral,” Manongas said.
“People here are going to different directions, they are running away and they don’t know where to go,” he said. (CBCPNews)