Statement of Ateneo de Manila University President Jose Ramon T. Villarin SJ

The Ateneo de Manila University joins the nation in mourning all those who perished in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Sunday, 25 January 2015. We grieve and pray with those who lost their beloved and we lament the shedding of Filipino blood for the sake of true and lasting peace in the beautiful yet broken land of Mindanao.

The University strongly condemns this violent encounter, and more so if procedures were not complied with on both sides in the course of the operation conducted in Mamasapano. We join many others in calling for an impartial and thorough investigation that will ensure full accountability and bring justice to those who were slain. We shall be watchful of our leaders that they may conduct this investigation with all due fervor and dispatch.

While some politicians and sectors have begun to waver on the possibility of peace, let us not yield to the temptation of revenge and despair. Let us continue to support the Bangsamoro peace process, which is our real hope for breaking the vicious cycle of war and hatred that have long tormented our people in Mindanao. Let not our agitation and outrage – warranted as they are – derail that effort. Subject to the refinements needed to make it more politically and legally acceptable, we urge Congress not to delay the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. The fulfillment of the peace process, including the creation of the Bangsamoro by enacting this law, is the assurance that Mamasapano will not be repeated.

As members of the Ateneo de Manila University community, let us commit to engage ourselves in the Bangsamoro peace process, in ways that are tangible and viable, even as we are here in distant Manila. Let us organize gatherings that will help us understand and appreciate the historical and social justice contexts of the conflicts that remain unresolved. Let us initiate and sustain dialogue with relevant sectors and stakeholders on the workable options for peace. And, where our expertise can be relevant, let us provide constructive ideas and solutions to the wicked problem of peace in Mindanao.

Pope Francis dared us to go to the peripheries, las periferias, the poor, those at the margins, the refugees. At this time of our nation’s mourning, there is nothing that is more peripheral, nothing shoved farther to the edge than this thing called peace. Let us resolve to be instruments of God’s peace to his people, so that where there is hatred, we may sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam,

Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ