September 21 marks the United Nations Day of Peace. Thirty years ago, the United Nations issued the “declaration on the right to peace” which affirmed peace as a sacred right of all people and a primary prerequisite for the material wellbeing, development and the progress of countries. The United Nations declared that the ‘preservation of the right of people to peace and the promotion of its implementation constitute a fundamental obligation of each state.’
For us Filipinos, September 21 has added significance as it marks the anniversary of the imposition of martial law under the Marcos dictatorship in 1972. The Filipino people rose up against the dictator in the parliament of the streets and many even engaged in armed struggle. Eventually the dictator fell in 1986, but the armed conflict still continues as an element of our national life. This shows that the roots of dissent are in the deeper social realities of injustice. Peace cannot prosper without justice that restores right relationship.
On this historic day, when the United Nations declared the right to peace, and as we recall the long war that has raged in our country, we call on the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to return to the negotiating table to address the substantive issues that remain as the root cause of armed conflict in our country including the issue of agrarian reform.
The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) reiterate its call on both parties to respect the historical agreements that have already been achieved in the peace process such as the Comprehensive Agreement for Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
Peace may seem elusive, but it can be achieved if the parties to the conflict engage in principled negotiations. We wish to remind them of their responsibility to put an end to further loss of life as a result of the conflict. We call on the GPH and the NDFP to “…seek peace and pursue it.”(Psalm 34:14). Our prayer on this day of peace is that all our people should live in peace and security and share justly in God’s bounty.
Issued on this day, the 21st of September 2014.
ARCHBISHOP ANTONIO J. LEDESMA, D.D.
MS. SHARON ROSE JOY RUIZ-DUREMDES
BISHOP DEOGRACIAS S. IÑIGUEZ, JR., D.D.
Head of the Secretariat, PEPP