To all Warring Parties:
As a Religious leader I respect your causes, although I may not agree with your methods.
But precisely because I am a Religious leader I strongly condemn every violent act perpetrated that has no concern for the innocent.
I condemn in the strongest terms as serious moral evil such crimes as terrorist bombings that by their very nature target the innocent, punitive raids on villages, bombardments that fall on civilian populations, landmines that can kill any passerby. For me “collateral damage” simply means murder and deliberate unjustifiable destruction of property.
War inflicts more destruction on civilians than on combatants. For every combatant killed, scores of civilians suffer or die. In the past twelve months I have seen thousands of civilians languishing in evacuation camps, first in the Pikit and PALMA areas and now in Datu Piang and various other places of Maguindanao. They give birth to babies under dismal conditions, they beg for food and water, they struggle for life in the most miserable situation. They die as statistics. Such human tragedy, it is said, has spawned brutal retaliatory terrorism elsewhere in our region.
From the depths of my soul I can only cry out to all warring parties, “Enough is enough!” End your so called search and punish operations. End your terrorist bombings. End your bombardments, end your raids, all you warring parties! Enough is enough!
Due punishment for raids has long been meted out in an attrition of casualties and damaged properties. And now what most sadly remains is the senseless logic of war, of action and reaction. And the suffering of thousands of civilian evacuees. Enough is enough!
For the sake of our evacuees and in the name of our one God of Peace, end your war! Go back to the negotiating table. Let the thousands of evacuees return safely to their home. Collaborate with one another towards this objective. Together, rehabilitate their destroyed properties. Give them another chance for a truly human life.
With the grace of the Most Merciful, Most Beneficent, Most Compassionate God, the one unique God we all believe in, there is no human conflict that cannot be solved through a genuine honest dialogue of the heart.
May the One Almighty Loving God of all have compassion on us.
+Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Cotabato
July 23, 2009