Church mounts campaign against drug killings
During the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution, Filipinos carried the icon of Our Lady of Fatima in confrontations with the tanks and troops of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Unwilling to shoot or run down unarmed civilians in a clash where the widely revered icon could be damaged, Marcos’ troops turned back—and the strongman fell from power.
On Nov. 5, the Catholic Church will bring the Fatima icon to the People Power Monument on Edsa to confront a different enemy—unlawful killings in President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs, which have taken the lives of thousands of people, including children.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) says everyone—including administration and opposition politicians—is invited to the event—the start of a 33-day “healing period” that will follow the Catholic Church’s 40-day “Stop the Killings” campaign to mourn and pray for the victims of the war on drugs.
The “Stop the Killings” campaign began on Sept. 23 with the rosary said, bells rung and candles lighted at 8 p.m. in churches throughout the country.
The campaign runs until Nov. 1.
Act of consecration
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the CBCP, said in a statement on Thursday that the “healing period will prepare us to make our act of consecration to the Immaculate Mother.”
“We will call this 33-day period … the time to ‘Start the Healing,’” Villegas said.
The healing period decision came with the pastoral statement “Lord, heal our land” that the CBCP issued last month.
Villegas said the observance would begin with the celebration of the Mass at the Edsa Shrine at 3 p.m. on Nov. 5.
“After the Mass, the image of Our Lady of Fatima that was brought by devotees to Edsa in the 1986 People Power revolt will be [carried on] a candlelight procession to the People Power Monument, a kilometer from the Edsa Shrine,” Villegas said.
“We believe that our national healing, which only the Lord can grant, will come to us through the hands of His mother,” he added.
Masses for all
Villegas urged people to join the event and asked priests nationwide to hold Masses in the provinces for those who could not come to Edsa.
“We are inviting the men and women in consecrated life, the youth and their teachers, the poor and the rich, the healthy and [the infirm], the laborers and the entrepreneurs, the police and the military, the majority and the minority political parties—in other words, everybody—to join this observance of the Lord Heal Our Land Sunday,” Villegas said.
The killings could abate, maybe even stop, with President Duterte’s demotion of the Philippine National Police from the lead role in his war on drugs, a move welcomed on Thursday by human rights groups.
But rights groups on Panay Island warned on Thursday that Mr. Duterte’s designation of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as the lead agency in the fight against drugs could be intended only to mollify the public, whose anger over the killings has pulled down Mr. Duterte’s approval and trust ratings in opinion polls.
Msgr. Meliton Oso, executive director of the Jaro Archdiocesan Social Action Center, said the promotion of the PDEA to the lead role in the war on drugs was a “good decision” and it could lessen if not completely stop unlawful killings.
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