An ecumenical peace movement of Church leaders in the Philippines vowed to continue the legacy of the late president Fidel V. Ramos who pursued peace negotiations with rebel groups during his time.
“We will continue to uphold the trust and belief he placed in pursuing formal peace talks with various groups seeking different aspirations through arms,” read a statement from the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP).
Ramos, who died on Sunday, July 31, at the age of 94, was a devoted member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and was known to be the first and only Protestant elected president of the country.
In its statement, the PEPP said it “grieves” the passing of Ramos who was remembered as “a minted member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines who heeded the clamor of the people.”
The religious leaders also lauded the former president’s “commitment to attaining true and lasting peace through principled negotiations during his presidency.”
As president of the country, Ramos created the Office of the Presidential Advisor for the Peace Process through Executive Order 125, which was tasked to promote and pursue peace between the government and various armed groups.
“This was a courageous and noble vision which former President Ramos worked to achieve, and which included a Cabinet level post for the Secretary of OPAPP,” read the PEPP statement.
Ramos also formed the National Unification Commission, which was tasked to organize consultations among various sectors throughout the country to arrive at a “just and lasting peace for all.”
These consultations became the basis for his administration’s “6 Paths to Peace.”
“We will always admire the quality of understanding he forged for the peace process that included confidence building measures and establishing formal joint negotiating frameworks for the different peace talks that the government pursued,” read the PEPP statement, which was signed by Catholic and Protestant Church leaders.
The group noted that it was during the term of Ramos as president that the Hague Joint Declaration was formally signed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
The Hague Joint Declaration has guided the peace process between these two parties through succeeding administrations.
“We will forever hold in our hearts the spirit of perseverance he sustained in pursuing peace by principled dialogue,” said the religious leaders.
They said Ramos “had a keen understanding that achieving genuine peace will take time and will have both steps forward as well as setbacks as part of the journey towards the fulfillment of a genuine and lasting peace that addresses the root causes of the conflict.”
“We mourn the loss of an outstanding statesman for peace. An individual who would always welcome peace advocates to his office, an advocate who would travel and give time to speak to venues near and far about peace, and a kind humble human being who lived and dreamed to see peace prevail throughout the Philippines,” read the PEPP statement.