Leaders from various Christian Churches in the Philippines rallied to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the pressing need to uphold International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
“As people of faith, we cannot stand idly by as an onslaught of bombings, injuries, and destruction rain down upon the people of Gaza,” the leaders said in a statement issued on November 17.
The leaders stressed that the IHL principles of proportionality and distinction between civilians and combatants “have already been grossly crossed.”
Over 100 faith leaders signed the statement, including Catholic Bishops Pablo Virgilio David, Gerardo Alminaza, and Broderick Pabillo; Protestant prelates Joel Porlares of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and Rex Reyes of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines; and Dr. Aldrin Peñamora of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches.
The faith leaders called for “a humanitarian cessation of hostilities” and urged the faithful to rally for “just and long-lasting peace”.
“We must address the root causes of the armed conflict between Palestinian and Israeli parties. The ballyhoo of ‘annihilation as a means of defense’ must be condemned as inhuman, as the resultant war footings are sure to spur further violations of IHL,” the statement read.
The leaders said they “believe in standing with the oppressed” but “we also see that it is important to delineate that victims can also become oppressors of others”.
“Victimhood is never a permission for violating the human rights and dignity of others. Past war crimes will not justify present ones,” they said.
The faith leaders reminded governments that peace-building should be “based on justice” and should “not be ensnared in silence or caught in inaction as women, children, and men are consumed by indiscriminate bombings with their lives upturned and their communities sent into hapless disarray and vulnerability”.