Last January 11, 2019, the Cavite Ecumenical Movement headed by its Convenor, Rev. Eric Baldonado, formally joined the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), the largest ecumenical peace movement of Church leaders in the Philippines.

The PEPP is composed of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMSRP), the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) and the Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF). The launching of the PEPP in Cavite took place at the St. Barnabas Anglican Episcopal Church under Fr. Joe Medina in Mendez Crossing West, Tagaytay City.

The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) was established in 2007, through the help of the Norwegian Ecumenical Peace Platform (NEPP), after the Royal Norwegian Government became the third party facilitator of the peace talks between Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) – the left wing or communist group of the Philippines. Recognizing the strength of the Church in the Philippines and peace as an important Christian core value, PEPP was organized to harness the role of the Christian churches, its affiliated institutions and organizations, in supporting the peace process.

Several bishops and pastors have taken up the cause of peace-building in the grassroots and this launching in Cavite was part of it. About 100 people came for the event, with major leaders from different Christian churches present. The theme of the event was “Sowing Justice, Harvesting Peace.” Professor Ferdinand A. Anno, Ph.D., of the Union Theological Seminary in Dasmariñas, Cavite, gave an insightful reflection using the analogy of the Traslación of the Black Nazarene in the quest for justice and peace. Catholic Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. then introduced and launched the PEPP while Ms. Ofelia Cantor of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum discussed the precarious situation of many Filipinos due to the stalled peace talks between the government and communist insurgents.

The ecumenical meeting centered on justice and the defense of human rights, especially in the present Philippine context. Several marginalized sectors in Cavite province – fisher folk in the coastal areas, farmers in agricultural land, and contractual laborers in the industrial zone – also shared their initiatives for justice, especially in the workplace. The urban poor who are often dislodged in favor of the so-called development projects also recounted their experiences of working for the upliftment of their living conditions.

Jose Aranas
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