The national elections draw near and we will read and hear the platforms and programs of government of all the candidates vying for seats in the different national and local positions. Currently, there are ten people running for president of the Republic, nine are contesting the vice-presidency, and several dozen are campaigning for a seat among the 12 available in the Senate. There are also thousands who are running for seats in the House of Representatives, including party-lists, and positions in the provincial and municipal governments including that of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). As the campaign of all these candidates run to a fever pitch a few days before May 9, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), the largest ecumenical formation of church leaders in the country today, call on the people to vote for peace.
Voting for peace means choosing candidates who will work for a just and enduring peace. Candidates who do not only pay lip service to peace but those who have a history and clear track record of addressing the challenges of social justice and the need for fundamental socio-economic reforms that will address the issues of poverty and inequity — the roots of the armed conflict in the country.
As peace advocates, we ask the electorate to deeply discern from among the candidates — especially those vying for the presidency — in order to make an informed choice, if they are truly working for peace. Choose candidates who are supportive of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as a viable way to solve the situation of unpeace in our midst.
For more than fifty years, the military approach to a national concern that is rooted on socio-economic injustices has bred more dissent, promoted hate and resentful hearts, economic dislocation and the deaths of thousands of Filipinos on both sides of the conflict. Five decades of military conflagration has been a period of national pain. That approach has failed and will continue to fail.
The PEPP reiterates its apostolate that Christ our Peace is the way to resolve conflicts. In this manner, the PEPP upholds the peace negotiations initiated in 1992 by then President Fidel V. Ramos as a viable alternative to the ways of war and civil strife. The GRP-NDFP peace negotiations was formalized through the signing of The Hague Joint Declaration which has a four-point agenda agreed by both protagonists, to seek a peaceful resolution to the armed conflict.
The GRP-NDFP peace process focused on achieving peace with its four-point agenda on human rights, socio-economic reforms, political reforms and the disposition of forces. We affirm that resolving these issues is the principled and non-militaristic way to peace. It is the way of righteousness and very much less costly when we consider the tools of war.
Beyond the issue of peace negotiations, vote for candidates who show their sincerity to address the roots of the armed conflict — poverty, landlessness, inaccessibility to services and inequitable distribution of resources — especially, even during times when they are not courting our votes.
May the harvest of righteousness be sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3.15) War is not the way to peace. Vote for Peace!
Issued and signed on this day, 18 April 2022.
Archbishop Emeritus Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, DD
The Rt. Revd. Rex B. Reyes, Jr.
Rev. Dr. Aldrin Penamora
Deputy Secretary, Peace and Reconciliation Commission, PCEC
Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza
General Secretary, NCCP
Sr. Mary John D. Mananzan, OSB
OWGC – Conference of Major Superiors in the Philippines
Bishop Emeritus Deogracias S. Iniguez, Jr.
Ecumenical Bishops Forum Attachments area