The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) has called on the government to concentrate on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic rather than parading its military might.
“We call on the government to focus its efforts and funds for medical and socio-economic solutions to heal the nation rather than imposing martial law and spending for counterinsurgency, and all-out war,” the group said.
The group made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte said that he might declare martial law due to alleged attacks staged by communist rebels against government troops.
In a televised speech on April 24, Duterte claimed the rebels ambushed and killed soldiers who were providing aid to communities affected by the lockdown.
The group said it is saddened with the president’s pronouncements against the resumption of formal peace talks between the government and the communist rebels.
“PEPP maintains that in these very uncertain times when an unseen virus is stalking the land, an escalation of the armed conflict with the New People’s Army and the imposition of martial rule, will be very costly, not only to the warring parties but for the Filipino people as a whole,” the group said.
The group added that whatever the real score is, what is disheartening is that the violence on the ground is continuing and escalating.
“As church leaders, we wholeheartedly believe that principled dialogue not over-reliance on military might can resolve the longstanding armed conflict in the country,” it said.
PEPP is a platform composed of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, and the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum.