AS MANY are preparing for protest actions on the anniversary of the Sept. 21, 1972 Declaration of Martial Law, peace advocates gathered in an online webinar called “Say Your Peace” to analyze and discuss how to remove obstacles to the building a just and lasting people in the Philippines.
How do we say our “peace” when the poor and struggling are being viciously killed? When human rights activists and environmental defenders are gunned down in the street? When fear grips the hearts of the people, as their government is found wanting, neither honoring civil liberties nor acting with justice and compassion toward the toiling majority? When militarism abounds and thousands are killed in Tokhang-styled operations? Can we speak of peace?
Working for a just peace in the Philippines is truly the most important effort we can undertake. We would like to encourage both the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to return to peace negotiations; however, if under present conditions they cannot, we must still urge them to consider what makes for peace.
The Pilgrims for Peace and the Kapayapaan Campaign also launched a Joint Statement by Peace Advocates: Stop the killings! Remove the obstacles to a just and lasting peace! whose signatories already include bishops, priests, nuns, lay Church people, activists, and international peace and justice advocates. We must say our piece/peace and identify the laws and state policies that impinge on democratic freedoms and deny basic human rights in our society. We must urge the government to refrain from tactics intended to terrorize those who simply exercise democratic rights to dissent, freedom of expression, or freedom of association. We must encourage the peace-seeking voices--no matter how peripheral in the current administration--to step forward and agitate for an end to militarist state policies and the glorification of killing and violence. Let us challenge them to say their peace, too.