CHURCH leaders and members of catholic groups on Saturday gathered at the Quirino Grandstand to protest moves in congress to legalize divorce and the continued drug killings.
About 2,000 Catholics joined the protest rally dubbed “Walk for Life,” which was initiated by
The pre-dawn protest was organized by church groups worried about the possible passage of a divorce bill, which is being championed by Duterte’s allies in Congress. The measure was passed by the Committee on Population and Family last week.
The Catholic Church counts about 80 percent of Filipinos as followers, and its lobbying has helped to make the Philippines the only state in the world aside from the Vatican where divorce is illegal. Abortion and same sex
marriage are also outlawed.
“Christ the Lord raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament. Let not Congress lay waste these victories with a divorce bill,” a commission of the country’s Catholic bishops said in a pastoral letter read at the march.
“What God has joined together, no man, no human being must separate. No to divorce.”
Duterte has not personally taken a stance on the bill. But he has actively attacked the church since taking office in mid-2016, accusing the clergy of sexual abuses and hypocrisy.
The church has been one of the most outspoken critics of Duterte, particularly his human rights record, with the government admitting to the killings of some 4,000 suspects in its drugs war. Activists say the real toll is three times that number.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, one of the leaders of Saturday’s rally, said the church’s opposition to divorce and its criticism of extra-judicial killings under Duterte emerged from a shared “pro-life” stance on both issues.
“All of that involves life: the taking of life, even divorce…. That deals with the family that is the center of life,” he said.
Groups present in the mobilization also criticized moves to restore the imposition of the death penalty, legalize euthanasia, and the “looming” dictatorship of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Organized by the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (Laiko), the lay arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Walk for Life was attended by an estimated 2,000 Catholics, according to Manila Police District spokesperson, Supt. Erwin Margarejo.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle presided over the Holy Mass where he urged the public to value life as a gift.
“Walk for Life is not just a walk for the few, but this is a protest to value, life even the lives of our enemies,” Tagle said.
“Life is a gift from God, the life of our enemy is a gift from God, if an individual lost his path. What do we see? A gift? Or a burden to eliminate?” he added.
Pabillo said he is happy about the turnout of participants in this year’s event.
“These people participated on their free will and the crowd is much organized today,” he said.
He encouraged Filipinos to be united and to remember the essence of the People Power Revolution on February 25.
“People power revolution is a product of dictatorship and we all know it results to human rights’ abuse. We need eternal vigilance to avoid it from happening again,” he added.