MILLIONS are expected to join today’s “Walk for Life” rally at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, Manila and other urban centers.
The rally, which will be held from 4:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., is organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to “dramatize” the Church’s stand against the government’s war on drugs and moves to re-impose the death penalty.
“Let us walk for life, let us fill our streets not with blood, not with dead bodies, but with prayer, with courage to walk to stand up for life. Let us stand up for life, let us walk for life,” said CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, as he invited Filipinos to join the rally.
“My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, is it God’s will that blood be on our streets? Is it God’s will that dead bodies of our brothers and sisters be found on our sidewalks? Is it God’s will that mothers killed the infants in their wombs? It is not God’s will,” the prelate added.
The three-hour rally will be held simultaneously in Manila, Dagupan City and Cebu City.
Anti-crime advocates on Friday expressed concern over the possible use Church money to campaign against the re-imposition of the death penalty.
Dante Jimenez, founding chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), said there was no way to find out if the donations made by members of the Catholic Church were being used to fund the anti-death penalty drive.
“We can’t audit the Church, what if our donations to the Church are being used to propagate the anti-death penalty position of the church?” Jimenez said in an interview.
The VACC chief made the statements following the publication of an advertisement about today’s anti-death penalty rally in a major daily.
The newspaper ad, titled: “Death Penalty is not the answer,” contained the names of two Catholic groups: Couples for Christ and the Council of the Laity of the Philippines.
“This is one example that shows how moneyed the Church is and its allied organizations, worse is that they are using it to have influence over political issues,” Jimenez said.
Victims of crimes should get the support of the Church, he said, and religious leaders should leave the death penalty debate to politicians.
“How can you have faith in a Church that is using its members’ money to push for its own interest instead of helping the victims of crimes?” said Jimenez.
“We and the victims of crimes are also giving donations to the Church and it is very disappointing to see advertisements and activities that are against death penalty,” he added.
Not interested in debates
At the House of Representatives, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said about 200 lawmakers were raring to proceed to voting and were no longer interested in the debates on the proposed death penalty bill.
Fariñas made the statement during this week’s debate, at the point when Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay moved to adjourn because of the lack of quorum or the required majority of lawmakers on the floor.
“More than 200 of us here do not want to debate. But because they [who are against the bill]want to speak, we are accommodating them. But they also demand that 50 percent [of us]plus one should be present here. It is not our problem anymore if nobody wants to listen to you,” Fariñas said.
Fariñas said he would likely call a caucus among administration lawmakers next week to find out if the majority would still allow the rest of the 50 interpellators to question the merits of imposing capital punishment.
JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND LLANESCA T. PANTI