Filipino bishop calls for end to gun violence

NEGROS. San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza. (Diocesan Social Communications Office Photo)
NEGROS. San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza. (Diocesan Social Communications Office Photo)

A CATHOLIC bishop has called for an end to gun violence in the country, saying that peace cannot be achieved through political means and by using weaponry.

“A violence-ridden political culture must end in our society. It will never guarantee authentic development for our country. When we talk for peace, it starts by disarming for peace,” said Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos City in Negros Oriental.

The bishop’s statement also came a year after the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and nine other residents during an aid distribution event in Pamplona town on March 4, 2023.

As their cry for justice continues in Negros Island, the Diocese of San Carlos has been campaigning for the ringing of church bells as a communitarian act of protest and call for justice for victims of violence in the island and for other places in the country.

In a statement to Sunstar Philippines, Alminaza shared some markers to achieve peace in the country.

These include the gun culture with stricter gun control laws that do not provide leeway for politicians and individuals to have certain privileges from the existing laws.”

The bishop said that in 2019 reports, there were 1,940,237 licensed firearms of the 296,906-gun owners, and 600,000 unlicensed firearms.

Another is the abolition of private armies and the bodyguard system of politicians and rich individuals.

In a recent estimate, since the then-Duterte administration, Alminaza said there were already 118 private armed groups in the country.

“The amount of armed personnel for every politician is scandalous, while there are large cases of unsolved crimes in several areas,” the bishop said.

Aside from institutionalizing peace development through schools without any form of militarization, the resumption of initiated peace talks, and the delivery of justice to end impunity, the bishop urged an end to political dynasties in the country.

“These appear to be difficult, but indeed these are important issues with clear implications against rising violence not only in Negros Island,” Alminaza said.

"If our lawmakers are serious with the ‘law and order’ to achieve peace for all Filipinos, these basic markers are more important than allowing privileged politicians and individuals to coddle police and army officers as their exclusive protectors and ‘bodyguards," he added.

According to the bishop, government leaders and the public cannot demand peace, if we ourselves are convinced of fake solutions, like arming ourselves as an act of defense.

“The political conflicts and killings will only grow even more,” Alminaza said.


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