Church leaders and church workers

demand economic justice for the sake of peace

 

Cebu City

 

July 23-25, 2008

 

 

 

 

Bishops, Priests, Pastors and Lay Leaders from different churches and ecumenical bodies join the people's calls for the following:

1. Resume the GRP-NDFP formal peace talks
2. Scrap the VAT

3. Repeal the oil deregulation law

 

 

 

4. Stop militarization of the countryside

5. Approve the proposed P125 across the board wage increase
6. Demand for an effective and genuine land reform program

 

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Photos courtesy of Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF)

Left: The Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) member-bishops led a candle lighting and march protest on July 23 at Jones Park, Cebu City, to support the people's demand to repeal VAT, junk the Oil Deregulation Law, call for a resumption of the formal peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP, and the call to stop extra-judicial killings and militarization of the countryside. Bishop Deogracias S. Iniguez and Bishop Solito K. Toquero, co-chair of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum led the candle lighting.

 

Center - Because they are the ones directly affected by the weekly increase of oil products, women, men and children also joined the church leaders in the prayer and candle ligthing.

 

Right - Members of the Student Christian Movement (SCMP) in Cebu also called on government leaders to resume the formal peacetalks between the GRP and the NDFP as soon as possible.

 

 

◄  Prime Bishop Ignacio C, Soliba of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines led the intercessory prayer.



Bishop Gaspar Banes of IFI Iloilo, Bishop Ephraim S. Fajutagana, Convenor of the Alliance of P125 wage hike, Bishop Rhee Timbang of IFI Surigao and Bishop Ernesto Tadly of Nueva Ecija joined the basic masses in calling for a legitimate wage hike and a repeal of the VAT.►

 

AF

 

FIRMING ECONOMIC JUSTICE... FOR PEACE!

An Ecumenical Pastoral Statement 

 

Longing for food, many are hungry...

Longing for water, many still thirst...

Longing for peace, our world is troubled...

Longing for hope, many despair...

Christ be our Light!

Shine in our hearts, shine in the darkness...

 

 We, Bishops, Priests, Pastors and Lay Leaders from different churches and ecumenical bodies convened by the Ecumenical Bishops  Forum   at the Center for Development, Education  and Training (CENDET), United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Compound, #85 Osmena Blvd., Cebu City from July 23-25, 2008 to pray and reflect on the current State of our Nation, steadfastly affirm our unequivocal stance for JUST AND LASTING PEACE.

 

We are witnesses to the continuing state of un-PEACE in the country today.

 

We are very much saddened that while our nation is richly endowed with vast natural resources and hard working and resilient human resources, most of our farmers are landless and hungry, our sisters and brothers in workplaces are denied of their right to just wages, our indigenous peoples are denied of their rights to ancestral domain and self-determination, our fisherfolk are left without enjoying God-given marine resources, our women and children are subject to commodification and abuse and many of our young workers and professionals are forced to earn a living abroad away from their homes and families.

 

We are alarmed that the neoliberal economic policies in the past two decades have aggravated and institutionalized the plunder by foreign corporations of our human and natural resources while our people suffer in poverty and want. 

 

We are outraged that in the midst of serious socio-economic and political crisis besetting the country, the highest government officials  are engaged in corruption,  self-aggrandizement,   and  political maneuvering .Furthermore, they collude with  big foreign and local businesses such as oil companies, mining corporations,  rice cartel and pharmaceutical firms  in acquiring bigger profits at the expense of and in gross disregard for  the welfare and interest of the people.

 

We are disturbed that our peoples’ collective action to express peacefully their discontentment and desire for  meaningful social change are subject to  repression by  government resulting in various human rights violations such as, coercion, intimidation, political persecution, , forced disappearances and extra-judicial killings against those who voice dissent  including peace advocates and church people.

 

We are further disturbed that the armed conflict continues to intensify due to the worsening social, economic and political crisis. . This is all the more aggravated by the growing militarization of the countryside in the name of development aggression resulting in displacement of entire communities, with thousands of families denied of their rights to land, livelihood and life.

 

As shepherds of our flocks, we are aware,   that many of our people have lost their hope in our national and political leaders but we know in our hearts that they have never lost hope in God.

 

As The Good Shepherd who gives his life for the sheep (John 10:11), Jesus calls us to  commit ourselves to take concrete steps to address the situation of un-peace in our country.

 

As Church People we long for a kind of peace in our country that is fundamentally based on justice. We firmly believe that there will be no peace when our people live in hunger and misery, when the tillers remain landless, when workers do not receive just wages, when urban and rural communities are dislocated to cater to big business interests. There will be no peace as long as the peoples’ fundamental socio-economic rights are grossly subordinated if not utterly neglected in favor of power, profits and privileges for the rich few.

 

Within this context, we join our people’s calls for the following:

 

1. To resume the GRP-NDFP formal peace talks aimed at attaining a just and lasting peace by addressing the social, economic and political roots of the armed conflict, reconvening of the Joint Monitoring Committee and the full implementation of CARHRIHL.

2. To scrap the VAT, especially the E-VAT on oil products, being unjust and onerous impositions by the IMF designed to ascertain capacity to service foreign debts, and resulting in increasingly unbearable tax burden on the Filipino people.

3. To repeal the oil deregulation law since this law makes the government fully supportive of the transnational corporations’ unstoppable profiteering on oil prices that puts our people in abject poverty.

4. To stop militarization of the countryside as it makes the people victims of state power, especially women and children. This has resulted in numerous cases of human rights violations.

5. To hasten the approval and implementation of the proposed P125 across the board wage increase nationwide.

6. To demand for an effective and genuine land reform program that will address the long-standing problem of landlessness of poor and marginalized Filipino farmers.
 

With the vision of a Philippine society enjoying the fruits of genuine democracy and freedom from dehumanizing poverty, we add our voices to all peace-loving Filipinos in demanding Economic Justice for the sake of Peace!

 

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountain. And it shall be lifted up above the hills and peoples shall flow to it.

 

He shall judge between many peoples and shall decide for strong nations afar off and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up swords against nations neither shall they learn war anymore. (Micah 4: 1, 3)

 

SIGNED:

 

MOST REV. DEOGRACIAS S. INIGUEZ, D.D.    BISHOP SOLITO K. TOQUERO, UMC

Co-chairperson                                                                        Co-chairperson

 

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