BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—Activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes received his cross of ash on Wednesday, the start of Lent, before preparing to pray for 13 minutes at 1 p.m.
The moment also set off Reyes’ campaign, dubbed “131313 Puliti-Kalinisan,” which aims to encourage voters and candidates to stop and reflect on the 13th hour of each day for 13 minutes until May 13, Election Day.
The movement was launched on Ash Wednesday in Manila by an ecumenical group, among them Muslims and Protestants, he said.
Reyes marked the 131313 program launch here because he was attending the provincial chapter of the Order of Friars Minor, a gathering of Franciscan priests, at the Little Flower Retreat House.
“We wish to promote the daily practice of contemplative, discerning and transformative silence. Every day, on the 13th hour (1 p.m.), we will pause for 13 minutes to go back to God and ask to be cleansed of any egoistic and selfish tendencies produced by our ignorance and sins,” he said.
“We will read the word of God and allow God’s words to purify, enlighten and guide us all times … Thirteen minutes of silence is both literal and symbolic. At a minimum, we find 13 minutes of quiet time but we may slowly extend the time. We can also share this sacred time with others willing to sit in silence with others,” he said.
Puliti-Kalinisan’s page on Facebook was also launched on Wednesday. Facebook users who sign up become part of the “Circles of Silence” who promise to observe 13 minutes of silence on the 13th hour every day until May 13.
“People are drawn to noise of the campaign but they are not led to the deeper discernment of candidates, they have no time for quiet and deeper reflection. On my part, this is for me an ‘inner race.’ This is an inexpensive way of calling for clean, credible and prayerful elections,” Reyes said.
He said politics has evolved into a season for violence, cheating and patronage politics.
Reyes also asked voters to disengage from politicians who undertook “epal” or preliminary campaigning. “Epal makes use of Photoshop to enhance their image … Don’t look at the external image, look at what is inside [the candidate]. Silence allows us to look inside,” he said.