MANILA, Sept. 3, 2013—A group of Catholic bishops and Muslim religious leaders condemned the successive bombings in Mindanao that killed several innocent civilians and wounded many others in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, Midsayap, and Jolo.
The Bishops Ulama Conference (BUC) denounced the worsening state of violence in the region, noting that the perpetration of violence and terrorism “aggravate the misery of the millions who are poor and already wallowing in the murky mud of abject poverty.”
“We cannot close our eyes to the increasing waves of violence and terror in our land. While we recognize the legitimate causes of the rebel movements, we cannot support any movement and advocacy carried out through violence, terrorism and deceit,” the group said in a statement.
“We reiterate our recommendation for a human, respectful and truthful dialogue however long and tedious with the common good as the guiding principle and motive,” it added.
The group appealed to various lay groups and government agencies to extend help to the aggrieved victims of violence, as well as to apply the force of law in bringing the culprits to justice.
“We make a strong appeal to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and those in-charge of intelligence agencies to apply the force of law and to bring the culprits to justice. We ask our people to support their peace-keeping efforts,” the group said.
The BUC also criticized the reported economic growth of the country, noting that inclusive growth is hardly achieved with the preponderance of violence plaguing the nation.
“No amount of media hype can cover the scandalous contrast – economic growth as claimed makes the rich extravagantly richer, and renders the poor miserably poorer. This itself is violence, terrorism and oppression. It cannot be morally justified,” it said.
The group chided specific government institutions such as the Office of the President, Congress, Supreme Court, Commission on Elections, Armed Forces of the Philippines, PNP, and Local Government Units, noting that they fail to curb violence and terroristic activities that hound the nation.
“The spate of violent and terroristic activities presently happening in Mindanao make us wonder what is happening to our democratic institutions and the persons in charge of them,” the BUC said.
“They were established to promote progress and development and peace, to protect human rights, and to serve the social, economic, political and cultural needs of the people while respecting freedom of worship and religion…Definitely they were not meant to serve the selfish interests of powerful and corrupt individuals who are experts in high-tech manipulation and deception,” it added.
In hopes that unity may resolve the spate of violence that aggrieved certain people, the group called on the people to live in love, dialogue, and hope.
“In the present situation we have to discern together, pray together, speak out loud and clear as one, and act together,” it said.
The statement was signed by Archbishop Emeritus of Davao Fernando Capalla, Ulama League of the Philippines Representative Prof. Salipada Tamano, and the Bishops Emeritus of United Church of Christ in the Philippines Hilario Gomez, Jr. (Jennifer Orillaza)