Saturday, September 10, 2011
OZAMIZ CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 10, 2011) - Philippine church leaders have appealed to citizens to support the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels and called for an end to violence in the troubled region of Mindanao.
Bishops Jose Manguiran, of Dipolog City; Osias Jaim and Bishop Melzar Labuntog, of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, and Antonio Ablon and Noel Lorente, of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, also led multisectoral groups in launching the regional peace movement called Advocates for Peace (AdPeace).
The bishops’ call reflected the sentiments of some 300 lay leaders, farmers, women, youth, and academics during the recent Western Mindanao Peace Forum held in Ozamiz City.
Bishop Jaim, AdPeace convener, said: "The peace process is a life and death concern for the people and is not an abstract matter but something that addresses our basic needs and aspirations. This is about us, our families, and our children."
Former Bayan Muna Congressman Satur Ocampo, who was the forum’s guest speaker, emphasized that the armed revolution in the country is bred by widespread landlessness.
Human rights lawyer Beverly Musni, convenor of Sowing the Seeds of Peace, a Mindanao-wide network with which AdPeace is affiliated, pointed out that "the people’s current problems with high prices of oil and basic commodities, poor social services, lack of education are caused by the way our economy and society are structured to favor foreign powers and the local elite."
Bishop Manguiran said that the Muslim-Christian conflict in Mindanao is contrived to paint a picture of chaos in the island in order "to justify the deployment of security forces from the Armed Forces and private companies."
He said these often end up guarding mining investments across Mindanao. He reiterated his stance that peace can only come about when the people exercise sovereignty over their environment and natural resources.