Monday, May 11, 2009

A Communique from the Public Forum on the Peace Constitution

A Communique from the Public Forum on the Peace Constitution
Bishop La Verne D. Mercado Ecumenical Center
National Council of Church in the Philippines
879 EDSA, Quezon City, Philippines
May 5, 2009

From bows to plowshares, from spears to pruning hooks

War is not the way to peace. Demilitarization is the origin of peace and security. Peace and security cannot be seen within the context of economics alone but in the relations of peoples and establishment of communities of peace and justice everywhere. These, among others were the common hopes that drew us to this forum, organized by the Ecumenical Bishops Forum, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines in partnership with the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan.

Article 9 of the Japanese constitution provides that in “aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish (this) aim. . . land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” Since 2006, there have been vigorous efforts by the Japanese government to amend this provision, thereby pave the way for the creation of a Japanese army. This has been met by an equally vigorous campaign by the faith communities in Japan to oppose any alteration of this provision. The call of Japan Bishop Matsuura Goro to make Article 9 of the Japanese constitution “a world treasure” is a call for an end to the culture of war. Thus it rightfully merits the approval and support of peace-loving people in the world. Article 9 is a model for a peaceful and just world which many countries like the Philippines should emulate. It is a constitutional provision that all Japanese should be proud of, a worthy gift of the Japanese people to world peace and a concrete response against the imperialist designs of the United States.

The war against terrorism was the pretext of the United States, through its foreign policy, to impose its will upon nations through outright aggressive invasion of others and insidious intervention in the affairs of government of others. In its desperate bid to remain as the dominant world power, the US has not hidden its agenda. Attempts by the governments in Japan and the Philippines to amend their respective constitutions are very much part of this US imperialist agenda. The presence of US military bases in Okinawa and elsewhere in Japan and the Visiting Forces Agreement (e.g Balikatan Exercises) in the Philippines are meant to carry out that agenda. Vigilance is a call we make at this time, lest the current economic crisis shall likewise be taken as an additional pretext for further imperialistic aggression and intervention.

We rejoice that people in both countries are becoming more discerning and consequently more active in resisting covert designs to amend pro-peace and pro-people provisions of the constitutions of our countries. We also rejoice that the face of Christ is seen in the face of Asia as shown in the peoples’ movement as the primary agents for genuine change and the church being a part of that movement. We give thanks that the Holy Spirit continues to blow upon us the spirit of wisdom, openness and the will to be free, thereby leading us to the road to peace and justice.

Our Calls

As bishops and people called to larger responsibility in our churches, we will endeavor to undertake the following:

1. Strengthen RP-Japan solidarity for peace and security
We will promote activities that will propagate the issues of peace and security in our churches and exchange of stories and experiences among our people. We will adopt common action to promote the culture of peace and security in Asia. We shall speak out against militarist solutions to principled dissent and oppose militaristic mindsets in government such as the practice of appointing retired military generals in key civilian positions in the Philippines.

2. Lobbying
We will engage and support parliamentarians and political parties espousing peace and justice and ecological issues. We will promote and encourage inter-parliamentary cooperation between our two countries on these issues.
Concluding Statement

The future of the world cannot be left in the hands of politicians and business alone, much less in the hands of any single country. It also rests on communities of peoples coming together in mutual respect, interdependence and co-existence. The church as a faith community incarnates this vision. Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of the Philippines has suggested a process whereby church people can begin to live out this hope for a better world: (we) “ have to be at the heart of the struggle of the little people, as Jesus was. I (we) have to be at their side to proclaim a prophetic word, disturbing the mighty, strengthening the little ones, to help build with them a new form of global communion that begins in the heart of the poor and, in pain but with unshakable trust in the power and wisdom of God, reaches out to other peoples everywhere.”

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Most Rev. Deogracias S. IƱiguez, Jr., D.D. Most Rev. Broderick S. Pabillo, D.D.
Co-chairperson, Ecumenical Bishops Forum Auxiliary Bishop of Manila

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Most Rev. Michael Goro Matsuura, D.D. Rev. Fr. Rex B. Reyes, Jr.
Auxiliary Bishop General Secretary
Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan National Council of Churches in the Phils.
Osaka, Japan

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Most Rev. Lucilo Quiambao, D.D. Most Rev. Eliezer M. Pascua
Diocese of Legaspi City, Albay General Secretary, United Church of Christ
in the Philippines

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
The Rt. Revd. Dixie C. Taclobao Fr. Francis Fukamizu
Bishop Catholic Council for Justice and Peace
The Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines Japan

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
The Rt. Revd. Warlito Baldomero The Rt. Revd. Ronel Fabriquer
Iglesia Filipina Independiente Diocese of Romblon, IFI

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
The Rt. Revd. Ephraim S. Fajutagana Most Rev. Julio X. Labayen, D.D.
Iglesia Filipina Independiente Prelature of Infanta

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
His Eminence Godofredo J. David Bishop Elmer M. Bolocon
Supreme Bishop, Iglesia Filipina Independiente Head, EBF Secretariat

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Bishop Jesse S. Suarez Very Rev. Fr. Jesus Malit, SSS
Bishop, South Luzon Jurisdiction Co-chairperson
United Church of Christ in the Philippines Association of Religious Superiors
in the Philippines

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Sr. Angelita Navarro, ICM Sr. Elenita Belardo, RGS
Demeester Residence, D. Tuazon,Q. City Aurora, Cubao, Quezon City

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Msgr. Bienvenido B. Balibalita Fr. Emilio Abcostilas, OMHS
Apostolic Catholic Church Apostolic Catholic Church

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Fr. Jonash Joyohoy Rev. Corazon Abugan
Iglesia Filipina Independiente United Church of Christ in the Philippines

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Rev. Erah Maga-Cabillas Pastor Juliet Solis-Aguilar
Iglesia Filipina Independiente United Church of Christ in the Philippines

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Mr. Renato Reyes Ms. Irish Agustin-Capus
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Peace for Life International

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Mr. Ramon Ramirez Ms. Maira V. Oberez
Arkibongbayan United Church of Christ in the Philippines

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Captain David Casimero Ms. Emelita G. Bolocon
The Salvation Army United Church of Christ in the Philippines

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Ms Vivian De Lima Ms. Biyaya Quizon
Peace for Life International Student Christian Movement

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Sr. Rosario B. Battung, RGS Ms. Katrina de la Cruz
Mary Ridge, Tagaytay City National Council of Churches in the Phils.

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Miss Carmi E. Espineda Ms. Sil Ramos
Center for Women’s Resources Peace for Life International

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Miss Johanna May de la Cruz Miss Ofelia A. Cantor
3KP - Youth Desk – NCCP Secretariat, EBF

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