PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte called on the Filipino faithful to pray for the "country's recovery and humanity's complete healing" from all problems, especially as the Philippines continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The President made the call as the nation observed the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Sunday.

Duterte encouraged Filipino Catholics to continue strengthening their faith and devotion even though the annual Traslacion, or traditional procession honoring the image, was canceled for the second straight year due to the high number of Covid-19 infections.

"As a predominantly Catholic nation, may we remain united in spirit and in truth as we continue to build a future that is truly blessed with peace, prosperity, love and goodwill for all," part of the President's message released by Malacañang on Sunday read.

Every devotee, he noted, must use the Feast of the Black Nazarene as an opportunity to reflect and "understand the value of suffering and its saving grace."

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"I wish you a peaceful, safe and meaningful observance," Duterte concluded.

He earlier appealed to the Catholic Church to cancel the Traslacion over fears of it becoming a superspreader event of infections.

As of January 9, the Philippines has logged 28,707 Covid-19 cases — the highest single-day count since March 2020.