A prayer for peace

Best Practices - Brian Poe Llamanzares - The Philippine Star

This Easter, we pause to look at the world – our world.

We see extreme violence in Russia and Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, Haiti, Sudan and Myanmar. We pray for their people, including the innocent and particularly women, children, the elderly and the disabled, who are historically brutally victimized by war. We further pray for our fellow Filipinos abroad who, in search of livelihoods and a better future for their families, have found themselves in such perilous places. We pray that the depths of destruction and the winter of despair in those dark corners of the world never reach our own region.

We are even witness to senseless cruelty against our furry companions. Our laws provide for the protection of the welfare of animals, whether as “objects of trade or household pets,” and yet it remains insufficient to deter violent maltreatment against them.

In the matter of animal welfare, we have done our prayers in thoughts, words and deeds. Our Senate office acted through Senator Grace Poe’s Privilege Speech on March 20, 2024 reiterating her call for the passage of Senate Bill No. 2458 filed on Oct. 2, 2023 or “The Revised Animal Welfare Act.” We called for justice for all animals victimized by human violence including Killua, a golden retriever in Bato, Camarines Sur who was slaughtered, and many other pets maimed, injured, tortured and killed, inhumanely. We pray for the passage of our proposed law, the spread of awareness and kindness.

However, we also hear about violence against our people and infringements on our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea. As our leaders in defense, diplomacy and trade continue in their tireless efforts to prevent any further escalation of maritime and territorial tension, we pray for tolerance, restraint, patience, fairness and dialogue.

Apart from our prayers for our leaders in the issue of the West Philippine Sea, we pray for our civilians, fisherfolk, teachers and soldiers at the forefront. They continue to bear the brunt of brazen physical and psychological violence committed by the Chinese Coast Guard. As such attacks increase in frequency, we pray for safety, strength and prudence. Moreover, we pray that, at the end of every day, cooler and wiser heads prevail so that injuries, injustice, dishonesty and lawlessness in the West Philippine Sea would finally come to a peaceful end.

The Filipino people must pray for and insist on peace. The pursuit of peace is in our DNA. The Philippines holds a stellar honorable record and international reputation for prayer and peace. The Filipino people is a peaceful people that is proudly a friend to all, evidenced in our history. In 1937 for instance, President Quezon institutionalized the Open Door Policy that is now credited for saving the lives of at least 1,300 Jewish refugees who fled the horror of Nazi Germany’s Holocaust. In a time of terrible inhumanity, the Philippines proved to be a refuge and exemplar of the best of humanity.

It’s no wonder now that the Philippines continues the prayerful and peaceful tradition. In the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, the Philippines has repeatedly rejected resorting to violence. We have reiterated our firm support for the Two-State Solution for the Israel-Palestinian conflict, envisioned as “two states for two peoples,” thus the Philippines voted in favor of the latest UN resolution in December 2023 calling for an immediate ceasefire and release of hostages in hopes of de-escalating irreversible death and destruction, and to grant the warring parties a chance of restarting to resolve their disputes peacefully. To quote UN Assembly President Dennis Francis, “We have one singular priority, only one – to save lives.”

The Philippines has likewise advocated for peace, condemned violence and voted in favor of six resolutions of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Emergency Special Sessions on Ukraine. Our delegation voted in favor of the UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/ES-11/4 dated Oct. 12, 2022, which categorically labelled Russia’s actions as “a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations” and which called on Russia to “completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its international recognized borders” to put an end to war and its consequent humanitarian and refugee crisis.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has so far caused more than half a million people dead on both sides. The Israel and Hamas War has reportedly 31,000 casualties. In both wars, countless lives are displaced, disrupted and forever scarred. With such present examples and the limitless lessons in world history, the Philippines is well-aware that an armed solution to incendiary issues will bring only ruin to all sides. Besides, it is antithetical to our nation’s covenant to our people of the renunciation of war and, more importantly, of the Filipino people’s pursuit of a just, humane and peaceful society. The harder but longer lasting solutions lie with the ardent assertion that peace is not merely an idealized end but also a means to which everyone can contribute to build.

Today’s global crises are undoubtedly international in scope and intergenerational. Resolving such complex problems are notoriously challenging, but it can start with something as seemingly simple but incontrovertibly powerful – prayer.

In this time of renewal, of rebirth and of celebration of His resurrection – the triumph of life over death – this Easter, let us pray together for our world; for peace within us, for peace in our time and for a peaceful world.

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