Statement of the Roman Catholic Bishop San Carlos +Most Rev. Gerardo a. Alminaza, DD on the killing incidents in Negros island
Peace Talks, not martial law
Address the roots of armed conflict for a just and lasting peace
As we pray for justice and for the souls of our dear departed who became victims of the Negros “killing fields”, once more, we fervently express our people’s longing for peace and our urgent cry to end the killings!
We are saddened that instead of negotiating for an end to armed hostilities, the government has recently deployed 300 elite police Special Action Force commandos in the Negros island (Philippine Star, July 31, 2019).
We also appeal to the President NOT to declare “Martial Law” in Negros, as Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo insinuated that the President will use his emergency powers to “quell lawless violence… and crush all forms of threat.”
Martial Law is neither the answer to the centuries-old agrarian problem nor to the decades of armed rebellion. Martial rule during the Marcos era did not lead to genuine peace; instead, it worsened the insurgency problem.
Even now, the heavens cry for justice as innocent people get killed in crossfires and mere suspects are summarily killed. Even now, without any formal declaration of Martial Law, government commandos and armed partisans are sowing fear and disregarding due process and the rule of law. Even now, human and civil rights are being trampled upon, leaving more and more widows and orphans in our midst.
Enough! Have we not learned from the lessons of Marcos-era Martial Law? Are we not still reeling from those years of political repression and violent reprisals? Craziness has been defined as repeating the same mistake over and over again, expecting a good result. Have we sickened our minds and withered our souls because of addiction to power, historical revisionism, and fear of the truth?
No, we are better than that!
We remind both sides of the armed conflict that genuine peace can never be achieved through military adventurism and tit-for-tat conflict. We reiterate our call for integral peace, one that addresses the roots of social injustice.
We believe that the first step to integral peace is the continuation of peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
We also ask both sides to: 1) declare a unilateral ceasefire and 2) embrace the pathways to peace such as addressing socio-economic reforms (land reform, national industrialization) and the provision of social services (health, education and housing).
As the Negros church bells continue to ring every 8PM, we call on the GRP and NDFP to listen to the collective cry of the people, “End violence! Stop the killings! Talk PEACE, NOW!
May the peace of Jesus, reign!
As Christ lives,
+Most Rev. Gerardo a. Alminaza, DD
Bishop of San Carlos