PCEC Statement on the Philippine Army and Abu Sayyaf Clash in Sulu
on April 17, 2020
The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) extends its deepest sympathies to the families of the twelve brave soldiers from the 21st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army who have fallen in the encounter with the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) last April 17, 2020 in Patikul, Sulu. PCEC joins our nation in mourning and honoring them as modern-day heroes for giving their lives so we can live safely and securely in our land.
As followers of Jesus, who as the giver of life (John 1:4; 10:10) detests murder (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 20:13), we condemn this most recent of Abu Sayyaf’s long list of acts of violence, crimes and terrorism against soldiers and civilians alike since its founding in 1991. PCEC hopes that the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization will soon be brought to justice.
PCEC, however, does not condemn with finality the members of Abu Sayyaf as persons. As Christians we believe in God’s power to transform people (1 Timothy 1:15). We believe that people can change for the better. This is exemplified by the surrender of an ASG courier in Sumisip, Basilan on the same day of the April 17 encounter due to the peaceful collaborative efforts of the Army, barangay officials and peace-loving citizens of the municipality.
Hence, we do not regard as impossible the ASG’s transformation and de-radicalization. Let us as a nation join in prayer that they, and other similar terrorist organizations, will realize that the best path in life is the way of peace and the law, not of violence and lawlessness. May they also see, as well as our fellow Filipinos, that violent extremism does not represent the true teachings of Islam as a religion of peace.
As we continue to face the serious threat posed globally by COVID-19, we at PCEC wish to pause and extend once again our gratitude to the valiant fallen heroes of the 21st Infantry Battalion. We offer our sincerest prayers of comfort for their families, and for the complete recovery of the other thirteen soldiers who were wounded in this deadly clash.
Finally, PCEC commends the Philippine Government’s firm stand to defend our country from terrorism, and the Bangsamoro Government’s call to embrace peace in this time of crisis. We enjoin every person of faith and goodwill to pray for the well-being of our President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and our country’s leaders, and for the peace and healing of our beloved nation.
“The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of his unfailing love.”
FOR THE PHILIPINE COUNCIL OF EVANGELICAL CHURCHES:
Bishop Noel Alba Pantoja
PCEC-PHILRADS National Director
April 22, 2020