EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THE PHILIPPINES
A PASTORAL STATEMENT ON THE PEACEFUL TALK
BETWEEN THE GRP AND THE CPP-NDF-NPA
The Episcopal Church in the Philippines welcomes with joy, earnest prayer and high hopes the decision of the Duterte Administration and the Communist Party of the Philippines, its military arm the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front to come to the table to talk about peace and to address the roots of the decades long insurgency war.
For almost half a century, we Filipinos have been pitted against each other in a long drawn war that has weighed heavily on the nation’s soul. Billions have been spent on armaments to maim and kill rather than to become instruments to nurture life and build human communities. The collateral damage of this violence on our life as people and nation cannot be quantified. And yet even the fiercest warriors on either side of the battlefield dream of the time when they can come home to live normal lives with their loved ones in an environment of lasting peace. We owe it to our people to keep all channels open between the two panels for a sustained, healthy and fruitful interaction. A common understanding of the problems we face as a people sets the proper framework for their solutions.
While we laud President Duterte’s call for an inclusive government as bold unprecedented acts of statesmanship, we must watch for saboteurs who may thwart our journey towards genuine social reforms and lasting peace.
I am elated that the cause of the poor and the oppressed, which is the core of the Gospel, is an important crucial part of the framework of the peace talk. Precisely, it is the grinding poverty and the sufferings it caused to our people that has fueled this social discord. The basic sectors of our society must be empowered to be part of governance and this can happen if we work for a truly participatory and inclusive system that redeems society from the bottom.
War is a symptom of the failure of communication and we earnestly pray that all sides exercise utmost patience as we sort out the barriers that divide us and work towards the goal when swords shall be beaten into plowshares and spears to farming scythes. (Isa. 2:4)
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification. (Rom. 14:19)
THE MOST REV. RENATO ABIBICO
August 18, 2016