As followers of Jesus Christ who has inaugurated God’s reign of peace, justice and righteousness (Isaiah 9:6-7), we the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) are deeply saddened by the outbreak of armed violence between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Maute Group in the City of Marawi. We stand in compassionate solidarity with its people, who are now suffering undeservedly the deadly effects of this ongoing conflict.
PCEC believes that violence is never a solution, it only leads to further violence that dehumanizes its victims and those who live by it (Matthew 26:52). In its place, Jesus showed us the way of love. We are to love one another, even our very enemies (Matthew 5:44).
To curb lawless violence in the region, President Rodrigo R. Duterte has now declared martial law in Mindanao. In view of our nation’s past under military rule during which many of our people had suffered much injustice, PCEC expresses concern with our President’s declaration. May this be but a temporary measure that will not yield what it sets out to do away with. PCEC thus calls on all its constituents to offer prayers for our President, that he may use all wisdom and discernment in bringing about a resolution to this conflict.
Further, PCEC calls on the evangelical faith communities to send much-needed relief goods to the victims of this crisis.
We call on all our constituents not to view the actions of the Maute Group as normative to Islam. The ongoing peace talks of the Government with our Muslims brothers and sisters exemplify that there abound peace loving adherents of the Islamic faith.
We appeal to the Maute Group to engage in peaceful dialogue instead of using violent means. We also appeal to them as fellow human beings and citizens of this nation to immediately release all hostages unharmed, which include the parish priest Fr. Teresito “Chito” Suganob.
Finally, in light of our President’s declaration of martial law, we call on the Armed Forces of the Philippines to show utmost restraint and regard for human life, so that abuses like those perpetuated in the past military rule will never again form part of our nation’s history.
“Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance” (Jude 1).
For the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches,
Bishop Noel A. Pantoja
Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC)
The Philippine Relief and Development Services (PHILRADS)