(Vatican Radio) Our Director of English Programming, Sean-Patrick Lovett, is just returned from the Philippines, where he was visiting on a lecture tour that took him first to the University of Manila and then to Davao, on the island of Mindanao – and smack into the middle of a war zone.
Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte had in fact declared martial law on Mindanao after an attempt to apprehend a suspected leader of a terror group associated with the so-called Islamic State resulted in major clashes between Islamic militants, the torching of buildings, and kidnappings.
“I was there [in Davao] at a particularly tense time,” Lovett said.
“Hence, a message like ‘Do not fear, I am with you’,” which is the theme of Pope Francis’ message for the 51st World Day of Communications, marked in the Church throughout the world this past Sunday, and the occasion of Lovett’s visit to Davao, “became much more than just a Papal document.”
Duterte declared martial law on Tuesday, May 23, following the outbreak of fighting in Marawi City, saying the declaration might last from over a month to a year.
The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, however, says the imposition of martial law should not exceed 60 days, and that any extension has to be approved by Congress.
The bishops of the Philippines issued a statement last week recognizing the legitimacy of martial law as an emergency measure, and urging restraint and prudence in the use of what must remain, they say, extraordinary powers well circumscribed in both their duration and the scope of their exercise.
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