Catholics to hold big Luneta rally against death penalty Feb. 18
MANILA — An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines urged President Duterte to listen to the voice of Filipino Catholics joining this Saturday’s Walk for Life in Manila.
“This is his constituency. It’s a big group. They are people who come from the parishes who want to speak,” said Manila auxiliary bishop Broderick Pabillo.
Pabillo, the chairperson of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on the Laity, said that the three-hour prayer rally at the Quirino Grandstand would draw lay people from all walks of life.
“His (Duterte) mandate was not only during the elections. He should listen to the lay people, these are the people from the grassroots,” the prelate added.
The Walk for Life was organized to stress the lay people’s opposition to attempts to reinstate the death penalty, and the spate of extra-judicial killings amid the war against illegal drugs.
The Catholic Church has a strained relationship with Duterte, who has repeatedly attacked priests and bishops for their hypocrisy over allegations of corruption and sexual abuse.
The Church has refused to reply to the President’s tirades, although the CBCP has issued separate pastoral statements against the extra-judicial killings and the death penalty.
CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas clarified that the CBCP did not organize the Walk for Life, which was organized by the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas.
“This was started by lay leaders from the various dioceses and archdioceses all over the Philippines. After the pastoral letter, they said they want to do this and here are the bishops supporting you. It is not a CBCP initiative, it is a lay initiative supported by the bishops,” he said.
According to Villegas, there will be no Mass on Saturday, as participants will pray and walk from the Quirino Grandstand toward the Rizal Monument and back to the Quirino Grandstand.
“There will be no Mass, people will just pray and fill the streets with prayers… The streets should be kept safe and the streets should be filled with prayers, not with blood… We should feel safe going around the country,” the prelate said.
The CBCP president expressed hope that “there will be more people who would be disturbed everytime a person is killed, because one brother or sister killed is already too much.”
The prayer rally will be held at the Quirino Grandstand from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. Saturday, while other similar activities will be held in Dagupan, Pangasinan and Cebu.
In Iloilo, members of the Singles for Christ will offer a prayer on Friday night and a Mass on Saturday in solidarity with the Walk for Life in Manila.
Participants of the Walk for Life at the Quirino Grandstand are expected to come as far as Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Laguna and other provinces in Luzon.
Participants may register at the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas office in Intramuros, Manila or online through www.cbcplaiko.org.
The organizers of the event urged members of Catholic organizations to wear white shirts, their group’s shirts, or the Walk For Life shirts which will cost P250 each. Proceeds will go to the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas’ projects and programs.
Donations may be also deposited to the Bank of the Philippine Islands Intramuros branch, savings account number 4953-0674-34, with the deposit slip to be faxed to 5273124 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. SFM/rga
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