Let us Pursue Peace, Justice and Righteousness in our Land
PCEC Statement on the Current Situation in our Land in the aftermath of the Mamasapano Tragedy
As followers of Jesus Christ, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) envisions to help transform our nation. Our faith allows us to see a land "where peace, justice and righteousness reign." Our hope moves us to help build communities "where everyone has a decent standard of living." Our love compels us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in a society where every person and every community is free to express and practice their worldviews, while respecting the worldviews of others.
As we face various challenges in our country, especially in the aftermath of the Mamasapano Tragedy, based on our biblical perspectives on truth, mercy, justice and peace we make the following calls:
:: We call for the truth about the Mamasapano Tragedy. We support the on-going investigations by the government, by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and by independent bodies, like the interfaith fact-finding initiative, who would make credible presentation of the facts. We reject the irresponsible conjectures of some sectors who misuse this case for their personal interests. Instead, we expect a truthful, prompt, and just closure of this case that will bring healing to all concerned and to the whole nation.
:: Because we envision a peaceful, long-term social transformation we call on President Benigno S. Aquino III to finish his term. We are concerned that some individuals and groups in our society are using the said Mamasapano Tragedy to call for the resignation of President Aquino. We do not support such call. We call instead on the President to rise above the current situation and to press on toward the goal of a good, transparent, just, and peace-oriented governance.
:: As we hear of the 'all-out-offensive' of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in various parts of Mindanao, we call on all parties to make the safety of civilians their primary concern. These armed clashes have resulted to the displacement of more than 75,000 persons. We are concerned that these might actually escalate into an all-out-war, as is the nature of most armed conflicts. Instead, we support the call for an #AllOutPeace being advanced by various civil society organizations all over Mindanao and throughout the Philippines.
:: We call on both the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to continue the Peace Process. We will continue to discern and process the implications of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as we help advance the kingdom of God in Mindanao and in our society as a whole. Along with other peace advocates throughout the country, we will continue our active participation in this process through our Peace and Reconciliation Commission.
"Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps." - Psalm 85
BISHOP NOEL A. PANTOJA
For more infomation: please contact Bishop Noel A. Pantoja at 9131655-57 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PCEC Statement on the PNP-SAF Operations In Maguindanao
The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the 44 members of the Philippine National Police - Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) and the 16 members of the Moro communities who lost their lives in Mamasapano, Maguindano during a tragic clash in the morning of January 25, 2015. From our biblical perspective, all lives are created in the image of God and are inherently and equally valuable in the eyes of the One who created all human beings. Though we sincerely cry with those who lost their loved-ones, our words would not be enough to describe the deepest pain and suffering of their families and loved-ones.
We look at this traumatic event through the lenses of truth and mercy as well as of justice and peace (Psalm 85:10). With these biblical values, we hope to express a balanced perspective of this sad reality before us.
:: WE SEEK THE TRUTH. We appreciate the fact that both the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have committed to conduct their respective investigating bodies to establish the facts. We expect transparency on the basic facts. What? Where? When? Who? Why? How? We also call on civil societies, the religious bodies, the business sector, and all other peace-loving organizations to help conduct a joint fact-finding mission independent from both the GPH and the MILF.
:: WE CALL FOR MERCY. Violence makes us angry. When we are violated, we naturally want to get even. We are tempted to see human society as 'us' versus 'them' in a perpetual adversarial relationship. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to transform adversarial relationships into reconciling relationships. This is done through loving God and loving our neighbors, even loving our enemies. This kind of love looks at the 'other' who violated us with mercy -- the kind of love that withholds punishment despite the fact that such punishment is deserved. Mercy is not a suggestion to those who follow Jesus. Mercy is our calling in this violent world. Mercy is our mandate and mission as the Body of Christ.
:: WE DEMAND JUSTICE. We cry and shout justice for all who died in this armed encounter. Based on established facts and under the rule of law, those who are responsible for these violent deaths must be brought to justice. All those who are responsible -- from the official who planned and sanctioned this operation, to the personnel on the ground who pulled the trigger, whether they are from the GPH side or the MILF side -- must be brought to justice. May the God of justice prevail over the forces of injustice!
:: WE PURSUE PEACE. As a church council, we laud the determination of both the GPH and the MILF to continue the peace process in Mindanao. We call on the Senate and Congress to finish the process of public consultations until the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is passed. We must advance the rule of law. We must not be succumbed to the rule of guns and bullets. We affirm the wise counsel of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who urge us to “contribute to our nation’s search for just and lasting peace by encouraging all parties to bring any conflict to the table of peace instead of the battlefields of war. Let us not add to the darkness, but to the light. It is the only way that we ensure that the sacrifices of our fallen policemen would not be in vain.”
May God's love embrace us so we can embrace others. May the peace of Christ rule our hearts and our country. May the comfort of the Holy Spirit energize us as we pursue peace in our land.
Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches
PCEC Statement on the PCEC-MILF Leaders Dialouge
April 2, 2016, Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat
We, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) is very much appreciative of the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) headed by Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal for the warm reception they accorded to our delegation during the entire duration of the PCEC-MILF leaders meeting held on April 2, 2016 at Camp Darapanan. We are thankful to God for this Christian-Muslim gathering that has led to a deeper understanding not only of each other’s positions on the Mindanao situation, but also as to what Scripture means that every person is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
In conformity with PCEC’s previous statements that proclaim our biblically based endorsement of the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF, we reiterate our unwavering support toward the attainment of genuine peace that is founded on justice for the Bangsamoro people. In this regard, PCEC highly commends the MILF for its continuous dedication to realize through peaceful negotiations the Bangsamoro’s aspiration of self-determination, especially in view of the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) within the term of President Benigno S. Aquino III.
The meeting between PCEC and MILF leaders had shown the importance of sincerity in dialogue. When participants are sincere and open minded, dialogue can lead to a deeper understanding and unity among Christians and the Bangsamoro people. Indeed, without unity it would be impossible to forge a lasting peace in Mindanao. The importance of unity is reflected in the biblical passage that says, “Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor.13:11). In loving reverence and obedience to God, we shall appropriate the message of the Scripture by cultivating unity with Muslims and building peace in Mindanao as expressed in the following ways:
• We call on the Government of the Philippines to persist in moving the peace talks with the MILF forward, and to explore new avenues in bringing about peace for the Bangsamoro and other people groups in Mindanao.
• We call on all Christians to help diminish and bring down the walls of prejudice toward Muslims, and vice-versa, by being good neighbors to our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters, as exemplified by the “Good Samaritan” in Luke 10:25-37.
• We shall conduct dialogues with other Muslim and non-Muslim stakeholders in the peace process in order to help in forging a truly inclusive peace agreement.
• We shall form partnerships with the MILF and other Muslim and indigenous people groups for the purpose of providing necessary services such as disaster management training, psychosocial training and trauma healing that will benefit people on the ground especially those affected by the conflict in Mindanao.
In these aforementioned ways, we hope to demonstrate our solidarity with the just aspirations of the Bangsamoro people. In these ways, we hope to follow faithfully God’s mandate to live in peace with everyone (Romans 12:18), and as Scripture attests we can be confident that the God of love and peace will be with us. (2 Cor. 13:11).
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14).
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