Our Opposition to
the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is Our Peace
A Pastoral Statement by the
Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP)
June 5, 2020
The Philippine Ecumenical
Peace Platform (PEPP), is saddened by the passing of the
Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (House Bill 6875), by the House of
Representatives which will now be submitted to the President for
final action. We are concerned that the Bill will greatly impact on
the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the
Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the
Philippines (NDFP). Our alarm on the Bill’s passing stems from the
recent practice of using the terms Terrorist and Terrorist Groups
loosely and indiscriminately in defining enemies of the State and in
derailing the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. Even several civil
society organizations, including our member confederation, the
National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) have been
tagged as such, placing them in grave threat.
At a pivotal moment in the
possible return to the peace talks on December 5, 2017, President
Rodrigo R. Duterte declared the Communist Party of the
Philippines-New Peoples Army as a terrorist organization beginning
an era of referencing the NDFP as Communist Terrorist Group (CTG)
and closing the door to peace talks. On November 5, 2019, the Armed
Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense in
a Congressional briefing listed the NCCP along with various
humanitarian organizations as among “CTG Front Organizations”.
PEPP upholds the primacy
of principled peace negotiations to end the ongoing armed conflict
between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and
the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The
Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (House Bill 6875), only gives further
legitimacy to the criminalization of expressions of freedom and
democracy and will translate into more repression in the short term
and more violence in the long term.
At a time of great
national humanitarian crisis when the country is faced by a pandemic
that threatens everyone and when the reality of hunger and other
health concerns stalk the people in ways never before experienced,
it is the call for national unity against the pandemic and its
serious long-term implications that is more urgent than ever. The
Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform appeals to President Rodrigo R.
Duterte to hear the voices of Filipinos who bear the promise of
peace in their hearts and veto this Bill when it comes to him for
At times like these, the
Anti-Terrorism Bill will not serve to end the conflicts of our land.
The meager resources of government are most needed not for
anti-terror expenditures but for setting and re-building the
economic and social structures that everyone needs as we fight the
pandemic before us.
As Christian leaders, our
opposition to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (House Bill 6875) is
based on our enduring call for broader peace. A peace that is not
just silencing of the voices of dissent and the incarceration and
destruction of lives that are defined as terrorists. But a peace
that addresses the root causes of dissent and seeks resolution by
negotiation. This call reflects our deep affinity with our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ who speaks of a people, a nation, a brotherhood
and sisterhood that is called to settle disputes in peaceful
dialogue, the words of Jesus teaches us that where there is
conflict, “first be reconciled to your brother and then come and
offer your gifts.” (Matthew 5:24).
Issued and signed on the
5th of June 2020.
ARCHBISHOP ANTONIO J. LEDESMA, SJ. DD.
Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro
THE RT. REVD. REX B. REYES, JR.
Ecumenical Bishops Forum
BISHOP REUEL NORMAN O. MARIGZA
National Council of Churches in the Philippines
SR. MARY JOHN D. MANANZAN, OSB
Office of Women Gender Commission
Association of Major Religious Superiors
REV. DR. ALDRIN PENAMORA
PCEC Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission
BISHOP Deogracias S. Iniguez, Jr., DD
PEPP Head of the Secretariat
Co-chair, Ecumenical Bishops Forum