Religious leaders back ceasefire with communist rebels
Leaders from various religious organizations expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a ceasefire with communist rebels.
The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) described the ceasefire, which Duterte declared effective from December 24, 2017 to January 2, 2018, as a “wonderful gift” to the Filipino family.
“We have seen the wonders even a unilateral ceasefire declared by both parties can do. It promoted calm and directed our hearts to greater optimism,” the religious group said in a letter to Duterte on Wednesday.
“Even as we assure you that we constantly pray for your continuing well-being, we pray that our country will be led into the way of peace for times serene and peaceful,” it said.
The PEPP said that while it understands Duterte’s frustrations over the setbacks in the peace talks with the rebels, it called on the president to persist.
“A just and lasting peace has never been so close to realization as it is now. This may well be your legacy,” the group said.
“May God multiply those who share our hope. Truly blessed are the peacemakers whom God calls his children,” it said.
The letter was signed by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Fr. Rex Reyes, Jr. of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Bishop Deogracias Iniguez Jr., DD of the PEPP Secretariat, Bishop Noel A. Pantoja of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, and Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB, of the Office of Women and Gender Concerns of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday announced Duterte’s declaration of a suspension of military operations against the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).
“This unilateral ceasefire would lessen the apprehension of the public this Christmas season. We expect that the CPP-NPA-NDFP would do a similar gesture of goodwill,” Roque said in a statement.
“In the observance of this occasion, we hope that all Filipinos would stand together as one nation and aspire for peace in our beloved Philippines,” he said.
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