The Catholic Church leads a procession of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the EDSA Shrine after a Mass for peace on Sunday, November 5, 2017. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA
ABOUT 3,500 people gathered at the EDSA Shrine on Sunday for a healing mass and prayer rally against extrajudicial killings (EJKs) allegedly as a result of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) organized the “Lord Heal our Land” Holy Mass at 3:00 p.m. to start a 33-day healing period for the families of EJK victims.
Former CBCP president Socrates Villegas celebrated the Mass where he reiterated the importance of seeking “repentance in a country that hurts.”
“Ang dating bayan ng mga bayani ay naging bayang walang pakiramdam…hindi ito ang Pilipinas at hindi ganito ang Pilipino,” he said.
(A former country of heroes has become an insensitie nation . . . this isn’t the Philippines and this isn’t the Filipino.)
“Choose integrity, not the quick fix. The power belongs to the people, not to the weapon holder,” Villegas said, addressing police, who have been on the hot seat over its drug campaign.
“Kung totoong drug users kayo, tama na at magbago. Maganda ang bukas. Kung naulila kayo, wag kayong padala sa simbuyo ng paghiganti. May awa ang Diyos,” he addressed the families of EJK victims during the Homily.
(If you are really drug users, enough and change. The future is bright. If you were orphaned, don’t allow yourselves to be consumed by revenge. God is just.)
Spotted in the crowd were Senators Franklin Drilon, Benigno “Bam” Aquino 4th, Antonio Trillanes 4th, and singer-composer Jim Paredes of the APO Hiking Society.
There were representatives from Marikina, Laguna, and Cavite who were clad in white.
Religious congregation Marian Missionaries of the Holy Cross (MMHC) was also present represent the youth and the poor sectors.
“This (white) color (represented by the participants) is non-political and is the color of tranquility. We pray for our country leaders and those who were killed. Yun lang naman ang magpapahilom sa bayan natin,” said Fr. Pio Herrera, an MMHC member.
Cause-oriented group People Power Volunteers for Reform (PPVR) said it condemned EJKs.
PPVR member Angelica Sarapanan, 18, representing the youth, said:
“Hindi po ako papayag sa EJK dahil hindi porke’t nagkakasalanan ay di na mabibigyan ng chance ang isang tao.
Ipapakita namin na sama-sama po naming lalabanan ‘yung pang-aabuso,” she said.
(I will not allow EJKs. It doesn’t mean that if you’ve committed a sin, you can no longer be given a chance. We will unite to fight abuse.)
The Mass was succeeded by a procession of the image of Our Lady of Fatima to the People Power Monument at 4:30 p.m. People lit white candles as they walked along EDSA.
A crowd gathers at the People Power Monument along EDSA during a prayer rally for peace on Sunday, November 5, 2017. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA
Tindig Pilipinas, an organizer of Sunday’s activity, reiterated that the event was “not political.”
“Kung mapapansin ninyo, walang politikong magbibigay ng speeches. The activities at the PPM are purely cultural,” said Gio Tingson, Tindig Pilipinas coordinator.
(If you will notice, no politician is giving speeches.)
Police authorities said that around 2,000 people massed at the People Power Monument as the Mass and procession were held simultaneously in an afternoon described as “generally peaceful.”
“Peaceful naman po yung event. Nakakalat na ‘yung authorities natin from Mandaluyong City Police, Quezon City Police District and District Battalion of Eastern Police District para i-secure ang mga tao.” said Eastern Police District PO1 Benjamin Soriano.
(The event was peaceful. Authorities from Mandaluyong City Police, Quezon City Police District and District Battalion of Eastern Police District were spread out to secure the crowd.)
Meanwhile, Malacanang reiterated the President’s position of allowing “constructive dissent” and said that “he would even give protesters the democratic space and time to enjoy the rights to peacefully assemble, seek redress and air their grievances.”
The Palace also reiterated that “this administration would not — and would never — condone extrajudicial and vigilante killings.”
”Our authorities have been investigating 2, 243 incidents with drug-related motives, as of end September, and the President himself made a clear stance that any violation committed by the police during operations would be dealt with accordingly. Accountability is essential to good governance,” it said.
“We are one in the true healing of this nation that has long been divided by politics. We must come together as one country and one people and help the government in building a nation free from drugs, criminality and corruption.
“We wish to build better rapport with the Catholic Church and seek the cooperation of its leaders, even as we call on our Catholic brethren to pro-actively help government in our anti-illegal drug campaign, particularly in the rehabilitation and treatment of drug dependents.”