Leftist lawmakers, religious leaders, and human rights advocates on Saturday called on the public to join them in praying for peace and human rights on Independence Day amid continuing clashes between government forces and terror groups in Marawi City.
An interfaith prayer rally will be held at the Andres Bonifacio Shrine beside the Manila City Hall on Monday, from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
In a statement, Makabayan bloc lawmakers, former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada, Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and National Council of Churches of the Philippines General Secretary Fr. Rex Reyes, Jr., and other concerned Filipinos said that aside from expressing solidarity with the victims of the Marawi clashes, they were calling for peace and respect for human rights amid “the rising tide of terrorism, martial rule and impunity” in the country.
They expressed opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao, citing the horrors of military rule that the nation experienced under deposed strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
“As the Marcos dictatorship showed, martial law is not the answer to the complex problems of Mindanao. A regime that trades Filipinos’ human rights for vague, ever moving law and order goals can only add fuel to armed rebellions and set back efforts to address the roots of the conflict,” the groups said.
Officials have allayed fears over the President's declaration of a 60-day martial rule in Mindanao, citing safeguards under the 1987 Constitution.
Duterte himself said Friday that he was "not proud" and "not happy" that he had to declare martial law in Mindanao, asserting that he would not use it to prolong his stay in power.
He also vowed to respect how the Supreme Court would rule on questions to his declaration, with several cases now pending before the High Tribunal.
On Friday, the military launched a fresh wave of air strikes against the Maute group in Marawi City.
Officials hope to free the city by Independence Day.
At least three soldiers were killed in the firefight Friday, while over a dozen others were wounded. A 15-year-old boy praying in a mosque in the city was earlier reported killed by sniper fire.
At least 200 have died, while more than 200,000 residents have fled the city since firefights broke out on May 23.