Philippine Church Leaders’ Statement for Just Peace in Palestine

Philippine Church Leaders’ Statement for Just Peace in Palestine

“Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16:20, ESV

We church leaders in the Philippines express our great shock and indignation at the act of terrorism perpetrated by the apartheid state of Israel on hundreds of international peace activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of Gaza Freedom Flotilla, a six-vessel fleet carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

We condemn the disproportionate use of lethal force by Israeli naval commandos that killed at least ten and injured dozens of civilians armed only with sticks and metal bars and a tenacious resolve to deliver relief supplies to the besieged people of Gaza.

We demand the immediate release of the more than 480 foreign activists seized from the raid who are now being held by Israeli authorities in a prison in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.

This incident is a stark reminder that the Israeli blockade on Gaza—backed by the United States and the European Union—can no longer continue. During this World Week for Peace in Palestine-Israel being convened by the World Council of Churches, we join faith-based and civil society groups around the world in calling on the Israeli government to end the isolation of Gaza and the collective punishment of its 1.5 million residents.

It is now more than 60 years since the partition of Palestine hardened into a permanent nightmare for Palestinians. It’s been more than 40 years since Israel’s forcible occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Just peace in Palestine is long overdue.

It’s time to end Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. It’s time for Israel to stop bulldozing Palestinian homes and to urgently implement a freeze on all settlement construction as a first step towards the dismantlement of all settlements.

It’s time to end the dispossession of the Palestinian people and the violation of their human rights and dignity. It’s time for Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination.

It’s time for Palestinians who have been refugees for 60 years to have the right of return to their homes.

It’s time to do away with apartheid and double standards. The Separation Barrier is a grave breach of international and humanitarian law, and must be removed from occupied territory. It’s time to stop discrimination, segregation and restrictions on movement.

It’s time to stop the recent Israeli military order that will categorize tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank as “infiltrators” – ostensibly because they lack the proper permits – and give military officers sweeping control over their deportation. This order regarding “Prevention of Infiltration” (Amendment No. 2) issued by the Israeli military authorities must be revoked now.

It’s time for healing to begin in the land called holy. Jerusalem must be an open, inclusive and shared city in terms of sovereignty and citizenship. The rights of its communities must be guaranteed Muslim, Jewish and Christian, Palestinian and Israeli—including access to Holy Places and freedom of worship.

Now is the time for each one of us to speak out and act, fulfilling our Christian vocation as peacemakers. IT’S TIME FOR FREEDOM FROM OPPRESSION AND OCCUPATION.

3 June 2010

Signed by the following church leaders and individuals:

Bishop Deogracias Iniguez   
Co-Chairperson, Ecumenical Bishops Forum & Chairperson, Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Rev. Fr. Rex R.B. Reyes, Jr.
General Secretary, National Council of Churches in the Philippines
Bishop Nathanael Lazaro
Chairperson, National Council of Churches in the Philippines & General Superintendent, Iglesia Evangelica Methodista En Las Islas Filipinas (IEMELIF)
The Most Rev. Edward P. Malecdan
Prime Bishop, Episcopal Church in the Philippines
The Most Rev. Godofredo David 
Supreme Bishop, Iglesia Filipina Independiente
Bishop Ephraim Fajutagana
General Secretary, Iglesia Filipina Independiente
Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza
General Secretary, United Church of Christ in the Philippines 
Bishop Solito Toquero
United Methodist Church & Co-Chairperson Ecumencial Bishops Forum
Bishop Elmer M. Bolocon
Executive Secretary, Ecumenical Bishops Forum & Bishop Emeritus, United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Bishop Warlito Baldomero
Iglesia Filipina Independiente
Bishop Roel Mendoza
United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Bishop Bert Calang
Iglesia Filipina Independiente & Chairperson, In-Peace Mindanao
Bishop Elorde M. Sambat 
North Luzon Jurisdiction, United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Bishop Gabriel Garol
Bishop Emeritus, United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Bishop Lito Cruz
Iglesia Filipina Independiente 
Sr. Angelita Navarro

Ms. Phoebe Gamata Crismo
Program Director, Board of Christian Education, United Methodist Church

Sr. Rosario Battung
Ms. Norma Dollaga
General Secretary, KASIMBAYAN 
Ms. Iris Ann Agustin-Capus
Program Officer, KONTAK Phils.
Ms. Corazon Tabing-Reyes
Executive Secretary, Fellowship of the Least Coin- International

Rev. Fr. Erah Cabillas
Iglesia Filipina Independiente

Rev. Manuel Rapisura
Central United Methodist Church  
Rev. Fr. Antonio Tayco
Iglesia Filipina Independiente
Rev. Fr. Dionito Cabillas 
Iglesia Filipina Independiente
Rev. Fr. Edoi Ruazol
Iglesia Filipina Independiente
Rev. Marisol Villalon
United Methodist Church
Dr. Ferdinand Anno
President, Union Theological Seminary
Rev. Dionisio Sanchez
United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Prof. Fructuoso Sabug, Jr.
Co-Convenor, Philippine Solidarity for Just Peace in Palestine
Ms. Carmencita Karagdag
Coordinator, Peace for Life 
Rev. Kenneth V. Aguilera
Mr. Nardy Sabino  
General Secretary, Promotions of Church Peoples Response
Ms. Norma P. Dollaga
General Secretary, KASIMBAYAN
Miss Ofelia A. Cantor
Ecumenical Bishops Forum
Miss Johanna May Cantor- de La Cruz
National Council of Church in the Phils.

And other individuals who have signed the statement but have their signatures to be attached still.