STATEMENT OF THE INTER-RELIGIOUS SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT FOR PEACE AND PEACE ADVOCATES ZAMBOANGA CONDEMNING THE ARMED ATTACK ON THE CITIZENS OF ISABELA CITY, BASILAN PROVINCE ON APRIL 13, 2010.

Peace be to all.

On April 13, 2010, more than 20 armed men disguised as military and police personnel and later alleged to be members of the lawless Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) struck treacherously and violently in the heart of Isabela City.  They shot innocent civilians and unready soldiers, killing as many as 15, reports say.  They set and exploded bombs, including one that damaged the main Roman Catholic cathedral and wounded churchgoers.

This assault in a province plagued by a history of violence and impunity but reveals a further moral deterioration and depravity of the attackers.  We condemn this senseless, evil act of barbarism and banditry.  We appeal to authorities to take swift and appropriate action to catch and punish the culprits.

We commiserate and condole with the families of those killed and wounded.  We pray that the victims be accorded speedy justice as well as assistance to the victims and their families..  We appeal to their loved ones and the good people of Basilan to harness the ultimately triumphant power of justice in the land.

To the attackers, we say your atrocities and killings and destruction of properties are irrational and counterproductive.  Armed violence always sets back the only true, effective vehicle of human progress, which is a peaceful and democratic process where the citizens regardless of their creeds cooperate and work together for a better life for their families and communities.  This peaceful and democratic means, this struggle and journey of and in solidarity, is the way of the truly enlightened and humane; violence and terrorism is the way of the savages, of impoverished, starved souls.  We appeal to your conscience to choose the human way instead, whose peaceful struggles test to the limits one’s faith and so enrich in many ways, yes even materially in the end.

We urge local society, especially Basilan’s, to exert extraordinary efforts to address and put to end the culture of violence and hatred in our midst – violence diminishes us all – by harnessing the culture of peace and love, of dialogue and journeying together, to reconcile and restore hope to the lost and fallen.  This is what we mean when we say: Peace is in our hands, peace is the only way.

Zamboanga City, April 14, 2010.

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