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On the ninth anniversary of the Mamasapano clash that claimed the lives of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers, Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), renewed its call for justice, resolution of armed conflicts across the country, and the resumption of the stalled peace process.

“The Mamasapano clash remains a stark reminder of the devastating human cost of armed conflict,” said Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, Caritas Philippines president, in a press statement. “We stand in solidarity with the families who continue to grieve their loved ones and demand accountability for their sacrifice.”

Caritas Philippines recognized that the Mamasapano tragedy is not an isolated incident. Armed conflict continues to plague various regions of the Philippines, displacing communities, disrupting lives, and inflicting untold suffering.

“We call for decisive action to address the root causes of these conflicts, including poverty, inequality, and historical injustices,” Bishop Bagaforo stated.

The organization believes that lasting peace can only be achieved through genuine dialogue and inclusive peacebuilding efforts. Caritas Philippines urged the Philippine government to actively engage with all stakeholders, including civil society, religious groups, and local communities, to find peaceful solutions to armed conflicts.

“This requires a commitment to human rights, transparency, and respect for the dignity of all,” Bishop Bagaforo stressed.

Caritas Philippines also expressed its disappointment over the stalled peace processes, including the one between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF). The organization urges all parties involved in these stalled talks to resume meaningful dialogue and work towards comprehensive peace agreements that address the legitimate aspirations of all groups involved.

“While the Mamasapano tragedy highlighted the challenges in Mindanao, the Filipino people yearn for peace across the archipelago,” Bagaforo stated. “We urge the GRP and the NDFP to return to the negotiating table and work towards a just and lasting peace agreement that addresses the legitimate concerns of all parties involved.”

Caritas Philippines remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting peace and social justice in the Philippines. They work alongside communities affected by conflict, providing humanitarian assistance, advocating for human rights, and supporting peacebuilding initiatives.