The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) said the growing state of violence in the country is fast spreading like the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a statement dated March 10, the inter-faith group said they are seriously alarmed that human rights, which protects God’s gift of human dignity and an important cornerstone of peace, is sadly being ignored and desecrated.
PEPP cited the “tokhang” style raids by the police and the military in Calabarzon on March 7 which resulted in the death of nine activists and arrests of six others.
Prior to this, the group said, two union leaders were also arrested in Santa Rosa and in San Pablo City, Laguna, respectively.
“Rights violations and attacks on members of civil society organizations have increased these past few days and weeks,” PEPP said.
What is very alarming, the group said, is that these human rights violations are in the context of the government’s all-out war against the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and its allies.
“However, the victims of these killings and other recent human rights violations were mostly unarmed activists working for the interests of the marginalized – peasants, fisherfolk, indigenous people and the urban poor,” said PEPP.
“We believe that such violence breeds injustice which in turn results to unpeace. Such a complex conflict cannot be solved by an all-out war, not even a counter-insurgency program with billions of pesos for a budget,” added the group.
PEPP called on the government, especially those in the security sector, to fully respect human rights and strive to protect God’s gift of human dignity.
“We also call on the Filipino people to pray and work for the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the NDFP,” the group said.
“Like the vaccine, which is a crucial solution to the COVID-19 pandemic, principled negotiations that address the roots of the armed conflict in our country are likewise the best option for a people-centered peace settlement,” added PEPP.
The PEPP is a platform for five church institutions/groups, namely, the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) with organizations of Religious, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) and the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum (EBF), in working for a just and enduring peace by supporting the peace process between the GRP-NDFP.