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Philippines: Bishop urges Muslim separatists to spare civilians

Catholic World News - February 23, 2010

Fearing retaliation against innocents, Bishop Angelito Lampon of Jolo has appealed to the Muslim separatist group Abu Sayyaf to spare civilians after the military killed six Abu Sayyaf members.

“We want to appeal to the humanitarian spirit of group members to please leave the civilians out of this because they are innocent,” said Bishop Lampon. “We expect them [the military] to [protect civilians] since that is also their duty,” he added.

While 81% of the nation’s 88.7 million people are Catholic, the Jolo area is heavily Muslim: fewer than 3% of the area’s 1 million residents are Catholic. The cathedral has suffered two grenade attacks since October, and Jolo’s previous ordinary, Bishop Benjamin D. de Jesus, was slain in front of the cathedral in 1997.

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