An ecumenical peace group called on Filipinos, who celebrated the start of the Christmas season with the traditional “Simbang Gabi” on Thursday, “to mark the birth of a child that reigns as the Prince of Peace to the Christian faithful.”
“This Christmas season is also a prelude to the campaign period for the coming national elections,” read a statement released by the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) on December 16.
PEPP, the largest ecumenical formation of church leaders in the country, is led by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro and Bishop Rex Reyes Jr. of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.
In their statement, the Church leaders called on the people “to vote for peace” in next year’s general elections that will be held on May 9, 2022.
“Voting for peace means choosing candidates who will work for a just and enduring peace,” read the group’s statement.
The Church leaders urged voters to elect candidates “who do not only pay lip service to peace but those who have a clear track record of addressing the challenges of social justice and the need for fundamental socio-economic reforms.”
“As peace advocates, we ask the electorate to deeply discern from among the candidates in order to make an informed choice, if they are truly working for peace,” added the statement.
It urged Filipinos to “choose candidates who are supportive of the peace negotiations” between the Philippine government and the rebel National Democratic Front of the Philippines “as a viable way to solve the situation of unpeace in our midst.”
The Church leaders noted that in the past 50 years, the “military approach to a national concern that is rooted on socio-economic injustices has bred more dissent, promoted hate and resentful hearts, economic dislocation and the deaths of thousands of Filipinos on both sides of the conflict.”
“Five decades of military conflagration has been a period of national pain,” read the PEPP statement. “That approach has failed,” it added.
“In this season of Advent, where the anticipation of the coming of the Lord of peace is accentuated, the PEPP reiterates its apostolate that Christ our Peace is the way to resolve conflicts,” said the Church leaders.
They added that “beyond the issue of peace negotiations,” voting for candidates who show their sincerity to address the roots of the armed conflict is imperative.