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Evangelical churches support Aquino on peace talks

By: - Reporter / @mj_uyINQ
/ 01:18 AM October 26, 2011

President Benigno Aquino III INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) has expressed support for President Benigno Aquino III’s decision to pursue peace talks despite the severe losses that Moro separatist rebels inflicted on government troops last week.

“We praise God for the principled leadership of His Excellency for upholding the primacy of the peace talks,” said Bishop Efraim Tendero, national director of the PCEC, the country’s biggest organization of evangelical dominations with over 30,000 member churches.

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In a statement, Tendero advised those pushing the government to declare an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that it was unwise to return to the old ways and “lose the gains of the peace negotiations.”

“We hear the rage of our people as they cry for justice. A few of our politicians are even calling for an all-out war,” he said.

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He said he was deeply saddened that even media personalities had joined the clamor for “war escalation, perhaps borne out of their passionate response to the bloody and gruesome graphic images they have captured.”

War not a solution

But an all-out war is not the solution, Tendero said. “We need to listen, find out the truth, implement justice, and seek the peace of all and not just of some,” he said.

Citing studies, Tendero said the Mindanao armed conflict, which began in the 1970s, had so far claimed 120,000 lives and also caused $2-3 billion in direct economic losses.

At least 2 million people in Mindanao were displaced when former President Joseph Estrada declared an all-out war against the MILF in March 2000.

“We need to move on,” Tendero said. “All the forces on the ground, including our government and military leaders and the MILF are moving on to a new era of dealing with conflicts through peaceful means.”

The PCEC commended Brigadier General Jose Mabanta, the Armed Forces deputy chief for operations, for echoing his Commander in Chief’s instructions against an all-out war with the MILF.

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Support for all-out justice

Tendero also described the military’s plan to seek justice for the 19 soldiers killed in Basilan province by filing complaints with the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities as “strategic thinking par excellence.”

“We also support the move of  the MILF for requesting immediately the International Monitoring Team…to conduct quickly an investigation on this clash and other ensuing armed resurgence,” he added.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday told reporters that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was prepared to assist the government in pursuing the President’s call for “all-out justice” against the MILF members who killed 19 soldiers in Basilan last week.

“The DOJ is 100 percent behind the President in his rejection of an all-out war and his call for all-out justice,” she said. “Such a stance is not at all a manifestation of weakness, but a leader’s exercise of a high sense of responsibility, prudence and wisdom.” With a report from Marlon Ramos

Originally posted at 09:24 pm | Tuesday, October 25, 2011

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TAGS: Aquino, Benigno Aquino III, Insurgency, MILF, Mindanao, news, PCEC, peace process, Peace Talks
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