Philippine Government Rejects Call To End Offensive
The Philippines government has rejected an appeal from Roman Catholic bishops to end an offensive against Al Qaeda-linked militants that has displaced thousands of people in the south of the country. Defence secretary Gilberto Teodoro says stopping the offensive against Abu Sayyaf militants on the southern island of Basilan will only lead to further terrorist attacks. He says combat operations in Basilan are planned to prevent damage to the local villages and people.The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has called on the government to stop the fighting and allow families to resume their daily lives. They say the military should also respect the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in the mainly Muslim island of Basilan. The Defence Secretary says halting military operations will mean surrendering the state to terrorism and will belittle the sacrifices made by the troops.