By Roy Lagarde

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza FILE PHOTO

Military rule on Negros Island could worsen human right violations instead of ensuring the safety of the people, a Catholic bishop has warned.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos asserted that martial law was neither the answer to age-old land reform problem nor to the 50-year-old insurgency in the region.

“Even now, the heavens cry for justice as innocent people get killed in crossfires and mere suspects are summarily killed,” Alminaza said.

“Even now, human and civil rights are being trampled upon, leaving more and more widows and orphans in our midst,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he would do something “drastic” in the coming days amid the spate of killings in Negros.

Speaking at the 28th anniversary of the Bureau of Fire Protection, Duterte said it would be a move “that would not sit well” with many people.

His statement came hours after Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte might place Negros Oriental under martial law “to quell lawless violence.”

Bishop Alminaza appealed to Duterte not to declare martial law and learn from the martial law abuses that happened 46 years ago. He said martial rule during the Marcos regime did not lead to genuine peace but exacerbated the insurgency problem instead.

“Enough!” he said. “Craziness has been defined as repeating the same mistake over and over again, expecting a good result.”

He also called on Duterte to address the roots of armed conflict and pursue peace talks with the New People’s Army if only to achieve a just and lasting peace.

“We reiterate our call for integral peace, one that addresses the roots of social injustice,” Alminaza added.

The rebel group and state forces are blaming each other for the atrocities in Negros.

Martial law has been in effect over the island region of Mindanao in the country’s south since the Marawi siege in 2017, due to the threat from Islamic militants.