Statement of the 2020 Mindanao Council of Leaders Meeting summoned by the Mindanao Bishops Conferene of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente on January 7-9, 2020.
We, the 124 delegates composed of ordained and laity from the 14 Dioceses of Mindanao, gathered together at the Diocesan Christian Education and Nurture Training (DCENT) Center, Pro-Cathedral of Virgin Mary, Parish of Bulua, Cagayan de Oro City, from January 7 to 9, 2020 for the Mindanao Council of Leaders Meeting, guided by the theme: ‘Be Transformed by the Renewing of Mind (Romans 12: 2a)’, summoned and convened by the Mindanao Bishops Conference (MinBisCon), to sort out, prioritize, schedule and follow through official actions undertaken by the 2019 Mindanao Plenary Assembly [MPA] and to further deliberate upon all matters appertaining to the whole life, faith and work of the Mindanao Churches and the whole Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
We are always reminded that as a ‘Church’ we should do good works and uphold the well-being of God’s people. That is why we do support the peace talks and get involved in such an undertaking that tackles highly political issues as we pray and work for the attainment of genuine peace and justice for the common good. Peace talks is a long process of dialogue where the root causes of armed conflict is discussed and addressed wherein the two conflicting forces could reach reasonable and doable agreements such as in the case of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (GPH-NDFP). For us, the Peace Talks is one of the means to acquire genuine peace based on justice and not merely the absence of war and armed hostilities.
We live in a nation filled with fear and violence. We are witnesses to the violence inflicted on the multitudes of children and women who go hungry every day, on the workers who do not have their fair share of their day’s labor, on the indigenous peoples (Lumads) who are driven off from their ancestral lands, on the peasants who break their backs to cater to the demands of the landlords. We are witnesses when the basic human rights of our people are violated and curtailed. As the late Supreme Bishop Alberto Ramento said: “It is understandable then that a significant number of our people have been waging revolution in the hope of transforming this society that breeds violence into one, where peace and harmony truly reign’ (OM Alberto Ramento Statement, On Peacemaker, April 1998).
Inspired by our national theme in Romans 12:2a, ‘Be Transformed by the Renewing of Mind’, we are urged to achieve the four roads on transforming and renewing our mind to become sufficient in our deeds. The first road for transformation and changing our thinking is to read the Word of God every day. Second road is through listening from the idea of others. Third road is to be with those people who need us the most. And the last road is to take action of what you’ve learned from the first three roads you went through.
It is indeed a hard task to follow and serve Christ. In the present situation where injustices are rampant and human rights are violated by the leaders who have the power to manipulate things for their interest. The people of God had suffered too much violence and oppression. As a steward of life, we are given the duty to protect and defend the life and rights of the people. We should not be afraid to fight for the goodness and the sake of the oppressed. We are reminded in Genesis 1:28 to: “Be fruitful…subdue…and be good stewards of life.”
We, as a faith community therefore:
- Call on the State authorities to stop all episodes of violations committed to all our Lumad brothers’ and sisters’ and to allow them to live with self-determination in their ancestral domain.
- Affirm to uphold the teachings of the church that Jesus as a model for peace and after deep discernment urges the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to fully resume the peace-talks now.
- Call on our church and lay sectoral leaders to initiate in engaging their local governments and to urge the national government to resume the stalled peace process.
- Call on our faithful and congregations to join the nation’s clamor of sowing the seeds of peace and to give peace a chance.
Finally, we pray that the God of Peace and Justice bless us and abide with us so that we may persevere and never lose hope in attaining a long and lasting peace in our land for the betterment of the Filipino people.