Preserving Mindanao’s Peace, Halting Israel’s Conflict

Oct 25, 2023 | Advocacy, JEEPGY: Justice & Peace

Statement on the Ongoing Conflict in Israel and Hamas

The Davao Association of Catholic Schools, in the spirit of Catholic social teaching and drawing inspiration from the encyclicals of Pope Francis, issues this statement regarding the deeply troubling and protracted conflict between Israel and Hamas. Rooted in the fundamental principles of justice, peace, and human dignity, we address this complex situation with the conviction that the application of these timeless values can guide us towards resolution and reconciliation.
As education leaders and representatives of Catholic learning institutions in the Davao Region, we are profoundly concerned about the tragic and continuing conflict that has unfolded between Israel and Hamas, resulting in widespread suffering and loss of life. It is a stark reminder that, in moments of conflict, the dignity of every human person must be upheld, and efforts to preserve peace and protect life must be paramount.
Pope Francis, in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti, emphasizes the interconnectedness of all humanity and the importance of fostering a sense of global fraternity. In this context, we recognize that the repercussions of this conflict extend beyond the borders of the immediate region, impacting us all. As we witness the pain and suffering endured by civilians, including innocent children, we are reminded of Pope Francis’ words: “War is a defeat for humanity.” We strongly advocate for an immediate end to hostilities and the cessation of violence to safeguard the lives of those affected.
Furthermore, Pope Francis has consistently championed the cause of peace, emphasizing the need for dialogue and reconciliation in the face of conflict. He writes in Evangelii Gaudium that “peace in society cannot be understood as pacification or the mere absence of violence.” True peace requires not only the absence of conflict but also the presence of justice and respect for the dignity of all individuals. It is our hope that both parties in this conflict will recognize the urgency of pursuing peaceful solutions through dialogue, cooperation, and negotiation.
In line with the principles of Catholic social teaching, we stand in solidarity with all those advocating for peace and justice in the region. We echo Pope Francis’ call for the international community to intervene, emphasizing the importance of diplomacy, humanitarian aid, and the protection of civilians. We commend the efforts of nations working to ensure the safety and security of the affected populations.
The Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, underscores the significance of interfaith and intercultural dialogue in promoting peace. It is our sincere hope that this document’s principles of love, understanding, and coexistence will inspire all parties involved to seek peaceful resolutions to this conflict.
We cannot remain silent in the face of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, a situation that has caused immeasurable suffering to civilians on both sides. It is with heavy hearts that we address this crisis, emphasizing our commitment to taking no sides – Israel and Hamas – and our deep sympathy for all civilians caught in the crossfire.
In times of conflict, it is imperative that we adhere to the principles of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which stress the importance of distinguishing between combatants and civilians. The suffering of innocent people must be minimized, and the rights of non-combatants must be protected. This includes respecting the role of medical personnel and humanitarian workers, who should be able to perform their duties without fear of harm or being taken as hostages.
We call on international bodies, particularly the United Nations (UN) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), to assert the establishment of humanitarian corridors. These corridors are essential to provide safe passage for civilians, access for humanitarian aid, and the protection of human rights.
It is also crucial for our government and Congress to maintain a careful stance and send messages that promote peace, dialogue, and a swift resolution to the conflict. The power of diplomacy and negotiation should be prioritized, and we must seek an end to hostilities that respects the rights and dignity of all individuals.
The suffering of civilians, the importance of taking no sides, our sympathy for all affected, and our commitment to the rules of war as outlined by IHL should guide our collective response to this crisis. The principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence must prevail, and we must do all we can to alleviate the suffering of those caught in the midst of this conflict among whom are Filipinos living and working in these war-torn countries.
In the midst of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, we must also remain vigilant against the potential for extremist ideologies to take root in Mindanao, disrupting the hard-won peace in the Bangsamoro region. The gains of peace in Mindanao, which have been the result of tireless efforts and sacrifices, must be protected at all costs.
The situation in Israel and Gaza may inadvertently breathe new life into extremist narratives and ideologies, posing a threat to the stability and harmony we have achieved in Mindanao. We call upon all peace-loving citizens of Mindanao to stand together, united against any attempts to sow discord and violence.
We have made tremendous progress in forging a lasting peace in Mindanao, and we must protect these gains. Extremism and violence have no place in our vision for a peaceful, prosperous, and harmonious region. Let us work collectively to ensure that the peace we have achieved endures and that the people of Mindanao can continue to thrive in a secure and stable environment. ###

DACS President