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Church leaders to voters: Pick candidates supportive of peace talks with rebels

Church leaders on Thursday urged Filipino voters to "vote for peace" by choosing candidates supportive of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Principled negotiations by both parties can help end the decades-long armed conflict in the country,” a statement of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) said.

PEPP is comprised of he church leaders from the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP), Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), and the Ecumenical Bishops' Forum (EBF).

PEPP urged the voters to choose candidates offer not only pay lip service to peace but also hold a track record of fighting for social justice and introducing socio-economic reforms.

The group said the roots of armed conflict are poverty, landlessness, inaccessibility to services and inequitable distribution of resources.

“As peace advocates, we ask the electorate to deeply discern from among the candidates in order to make an informed choice, if they are truly working for peace,” they said.

“Let us choose candidates who view public service as a means to work for the greater good for our people and not to enrich one-self through the public coffers. Let us unite against those who will subvert the people’s democratic will to freely choose our leaders because of grave threats or financial opportunism,” they added.

The statement was signed by PEPP co-chairperson Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, PCEC national president Bishop Noel A. Pantoja, NCCP general secretary Rev. Fr. Rex B. Reyes Jr., EBF co-chairperson and PEPP head of secretariat Bishop Deogracias S. Iniguez Jr., and AMRSP-Women co-chairperson Sr. Mary John M. Mananzan. — Trisha Macas/VVP, GMA News

Related: PILIPINAS DEBATES 2016: How presidential bets will push for peace in Mindanao