MANILA, Philippines – The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) challenged Filipinos to stand firm as Catholics hold a huge procession against extrajudicial killings, abortion, and the proposed revival of the death penalty.
“Malapit nang sumikat ang araw. May pag-asa tayo. Huwag matakot sa dilim,” Villegas said in a message set to be delivered early Saturday morning, February 18. (The sun is about to rise. We have hope. Do not be afraid of darkness.)
Villegas also urged Filipinos not to give in to terror, even in the face of death threats. “Huwag mamuhay sa takot,” he said. (Do not live in fear.)
“Harapin natin ang nananakot at ipakita natin ang ating lakas ng loob,” he said. “Hindi nila tayo maaaring takutin dahil mas malakas ang tiwala natin sa Diyos.” (Let us face those who threaten us, and show our inner strength…They cannot scare us because our faith in God is stronger.)
The Walk for Life is set from 4:30 to 8 am on Saturday at the Quirino Grandstand Parade Ground in Manila.
The event was announced as early as January 11, and was organized by the Council of the Laity of the Philippines.
The Walk for Life comes as President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs kills least 7,080 people, while Duterte is also pushing to revive the death penalty.
‘Walk for Life is anti-drugs’
In his message for Saturday, Villegas summarized offenses against life using the first 5 letters of the alphabet: abortion, blasphemy, corruption, drugs, and execution.
On abortion, Villegas said every child is a gift of God.
On blasphemy, he said this is an assault on the name of God, which later translates to a disrespect for God’s creation.
“Ang lahat ng kasalanan sa Diyos ay nagsisimula sa blasphemy o pagyurak sa karangalan ng Diyos,” the archbishop said. (All sins against God begin with blasphemy, or trying to destroy the honor of God.)
On corruption, he said this practice is killing people, especially the poor.
On drugs, he said illegal substances lead addicts to kill their neighbor. “Ang Walk for Life ay kontra droga,” he said. (Walk for Life is anti-drugs.)
On executions, Villegas said, “We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing those who kill. It also increases the number of killers.”
Earlier, on February 5, Villegas issued a statement on behalf of the CBCP against the “reign of terror” in poor communities as Duterte wages his war on drugs.
Duterte, on the other hand, told Catholics on the same day: “Kayong mga Katoliko, magpapaniwala kayo diyan sa mga pari pati obispo, doon kayo. Kung gusto ninyo magpunta ng langit, doon kayo. Kayo, ‘yung gusto nang matapos ang droga pero magpunta ako sa impiyerno, sumabay kayo sa akin.“
(You Catholics, if you want to believe in those priests and bishops, stay with them. If you want to go to heaven, stay with them. Now the rest who want to eradicate drugs, but I am going to hell, come with me.) – Rappler.com