THE string of violent events in Mindanao in the past few days is expectedly causing reflex reactions from many sectors who are favoring an all-out war again in this war-torn and war-weary region of our country. No doubt, the reactions are an expression of indignation against the brutal murder of Rev. Fr. Fausto Tentorio, PIME, and the series of massacres of our soldiers by lawless elements. The reactions are valid, and the perpetrators of these dastardly acts must indeed be pursued relentlessly and brought to justice.
Nevertheless, we, Bishops as heralds of peace and hope, feel that it would be ill-advised simply to throw away the tremendous efforts that have been poured in the work for peace-building in Mindanao. We affirm the general pulse of our brother Bishops in Mindanao which is to continue the peace negotiations despite these recent setbacks.
A lot of lives and resources have been wasted in the past in Mindanao; a lot of time, energy and resources have been invested for peace-building. We cannot possibly start from scratch all over again by resorting to an all-out war.
Time and again, the Bishops have issued statements calling for peace; they have actively participated in interfaith and multi-sectoral dialogues meant to facilitate peaceful processes that could put an end to conflict in Mindanao.
This is the opportune time to share our commitment to true and lasting peace. Nobody wins in a war; let us renounce violence; let us not allow these violent acts of lawless elements to provoke us to further violence. Let us pray and work for peace in Mindanao and in our entire country.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
+NEREO P. ODCHIMAR, D.D.
Bishop of Tandag
October 24, 2011