‘Use of violence will worsen Mindanao conflict’—bishop

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ISABELA, Basilan, Nov. 5, 2014—The head of the Prelature of Isabela de Basilan asserts waging an “all-out” campaign against the “lawless elements” in Mindanao is not the solution, stressing that the use of violence to violence might even encourage more rebel recruits.

According to Basilan Bishop Martin S. Jumoad, a solution that emphasizes force will not earn the government the trust and confidence of the rebels.

“Those perpetrators or lawless elements … We can’t do anything about them, run after them… Finishing them all? I think that is not the solution because that will just add more problems. I think the government must act like a mother that will look for aid in order to win their trust and confidence to the calls of law,” the bishop said.

Basilan Bishop Martin S. Jumoad (File photo)

In his recent interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas, the prelate said extreme poverty from which most people in Mindanao suffer is at the root of the conflict.

“I have been in Basilan. Parang paulit-ulit na lang ang pangyarari. [It seems things happen all over again.] I think the approach should really be no longer through guns. I ask the government to really give more educational and livelihood programs to those areas, especially in Sumisop,” he added.

Instead of an armed response, Jumoad suggested that government officials find ways to assure the rebels that Mindanaoans are not second-class citizens, and that they get educated and have the means to support themselves and their children.

The Philippine Star reported earlier that six troopers, including a junior officer, were killed Sunday, Nov. 2, in Basilan in an ambush by members of the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG).

Rear Admiral Reynaldo Yoma, chief Task Group Zambasulta, shared that the team led by 2nd Lt. Jun Corpuz were on security patrol when they came under attack by 20 ASG militants around 7:30 a.m., Sunday at Sitio Monpol, Barangay Libug, Sumisop town. (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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