CATHOLIC bishops in Mindanao have acknowledged the need to declare Martial law in the strife-torn region but stressed that it must only be "temporary."

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, on behalf of bishops in Mindanao, said there may have been many questions regarding the declaration of martial law but all are just "speculative."

Quevedo added that the Catholic bishops of Mindanao have no "solid and sufficient" evidence to prove that the proclamation of one-man rule is "morally reprehensible."

They, however, believed that martial law is necessary but must not last for a long period of time.

"The President of the Philippines has responded to the Marawi crisis by declaring Martial law in the entire Mindanao. Many criticize the decision as reminiscent of the horrors of a past dictatorship. Others support the decision as justified," Quevedo said Friday in a statement.

"We have many fears. But at present, we simply do not have solid and sufficient facts to absolutely reject the declaration of Martial law as morally reprehensible. But we certainly agreed that Martial law must be temporary" he added.

On Tuesday, Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao, following the clashes between government forces and Maute group in Marawi City.

Maute reportedly torched several private and public establishments in the city, including a church, and abducted parish priest Teresito Suganob and a number of church personnel and teachers.

Quevedo said the Mindanao bishops condemned terrorism in its various forms "in strongest terms."

As Mindanao has been placed under Martial law, he said the public should be calm and follow the government rules.

Quevedo also called on the government to not use Martial as a gateway for abuses.

"We exhort everyone to be calm in the face of Martial law, to be obedient to the just commands of lawful authority, and not to provoke violent reactions," he said.

"We shall condemn any abuse of Martial law and as in the past will condemn it outright if it goes in the way of evil. Let us be vigilant," Quevedo added.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in a statement, welcomed the apparent support from Mindanao bishops on Duterte's declaration of Martial law.

He assured that mechanisms to prevent and address human rights abuses are in place.

Abella also allayed the fears of the people, saying that the current military operations are different from the past, or during Martial law under the Marcos regime.

"The government appreciates support from all sectors, no matter how nuanced," Abella said.

"Such mechanisms are in place, and this will differentiate this military action from the past," he added. (SunStar Philippines)