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Army chaplain appeals for sobriety against calls of all-out war vs. MILF

Posted By: Chris Costuya On:


CAGAYAN DE ORO City, Oct. 23, 2011—Like a voice crying in the wilderness, the Catholic chaplain of the Army’s 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division here called for sobriety Sunday amid calls for government to launch an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as punishment for the “murder” of 19 Special Forces soldiers in Basilan last Tuesday.

Fr. Leonides Cruel Jr., who holds the rank of Major in the Philippine Army, also castigated those who are urging President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to declare an all-out war against the Moro rebel group now negotiating peace with the government.

“It’s very easy to call for war. But will those who are urging the President the ones who go into the frontlines to fight the MILF? Will their brother/sister, son/daughter, husband/wife go to the war zone? No! They will stay where we are and just command the foot soldiers to wage war,” he said.

Cruel pointed out that those are who itching for war with the MILF “are not thinking clearly.”

“I was asked yesterday (Saturday) about my stand as a priest on this issue? My reply was ‘to look at Christ and His example. What did Christ do when He was falsely accused and charged? What did he do when He was flogged and crucified? Did any of His followers cried ‘war’ against the Romans? What did Christ do when he was hanging on the cross? Did he curse those who accused Him and called for the wrath of God to fall on them? No! He prayed for them and asked God to forgive them,” he told a very silent and raptly attentive parishioners composed of enlisted personnel and their families and relatives at the packed St. Ignatius de Loyola Chapel in Camp Edilberto Evangelista, headquarters of the 4th ID, in Barangay Patag.

The chaplain, waving a copy of the book “War Wounded” by Gail Tan Ilagan, urged those who are urging the government to wage war against the MILF to think and look deep inside themselves if they are following the example of Christ, whose name they carry as Christians.

“I always read this book. And I urged you to also read this so you will know what war is. I know it is a very common saying that ‘no one wins in war.’ But I say, there are winners in war; but they are not the combatants. The winners are those who make caskets, the funeral homes, the manufacturers of firearms, weapons and bullets, the middlemen when there are transactions, the suppliers of uniforms and military equipment,” he said to a slight giggle from parishioners.

He said that soldiers should not be defined by muscle, brawn and courage in the frontlines and how snappy they are but by their ability to think and decide as Christians.

“This is why, as a person, as a priest and as a soldier, I am happy to be a Christian because we have a Christian President, a Christian Commander-in-Chief who thinks and make decisions as a Christian, a President who does not let emotions and the clamor for war cloud his vision for peace to be attained during his term,” he stressed.

“So my answer to those who asked my personal stand on this ‘war against the MILF’ issue: No to war!” he added.

Cruel, however, said that this does not mean that the government will just stand by and not do anything to punish those who commit crimes.

“Even if we imposed against capital punishment or death penalty against the criminals, this will still not prevent crimes from being committed. The only way to stop crime is for those in authority to be sincere in pursuing and punishing those criminals, beginning with those in government,” he stressed.

“Sincerity, that is the missing element in our fight against criminality,” he added. (Bong D. Fabe)

 


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