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MANILA, Philippines – “The Church cannot be silent!”
This was one of the statements written on the placards at the One Faith, One Nation, One Voice interfaith event of various religious groups to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at the Rajah Sulayman Park in Manila late afternoon Friday, January 25.
In an interview with Rappler, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said that though the protesters differ in some religious beliefs, they were bound by the Christian character of resisting falsehoods and injustice.
“Napupukawan na ‘yung tao na kailangan na nating manindigan. Hindi na tayo tatahimik at hindi lang manindigan kundi sama-sama tayong manindigan (People are becoming aware that we have to make a stand. We will no longer be silent and we will make a stand together),” the prelate said.
Pabillo is one of the most outspoken critics of President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies, including the campaign against drugs which already claimed thousands of lives. (READ: [OPINION] Why did God give us Duterte?)
“Tungkol ‘yan sa Bible, tungkol sa Diyos, sa Holy Trinity – tungkol ‘yan sa pananampalataya ng mga Kristiyano kaya rito nagkaisa sila kaya kailangan talaga nating magkaisa para maging mas malakas tayo (That’s about the Bible, about God, the Holy Trinity – that’s about Christian faith that’s why they have been united, that why we have to be united so we will become stronger),” he said.
Last year, Duterte, who leads a predominantly Catholic nation, cursed God and called Him “stupid” for the concept of “original sin” in the Bible’s creation story. Duterte also mocked the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and said he was umimpressed with Jesus Christ as he allowed himself to be crucified to pay for mankind’s sins when he could have opted to zap his foes to oblivion.
“Ang mga tinutuligsa ng Presidente ay pananampalataya ng lahat ng mga Kristiyano (Those tirades made by the President are the faith of all Christians),” said Pabillo.
In a statement, organizers said they gathered to proclaim that they are united in faith as one nation, with one voice.
Bishop Joseph Agpaoa of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines-North Luzon said that they were empathizing with the Catholic church and its leadership in the Philippines, which have been the subject of Duterte’s constant attacks from the
“We are in solidarity with them kasi kahit Catholic ang laging ina-attack, we are all part of the Universal Church kaya kami ay talagang nasasaktan din sa mga ganyang pangyayari (We are in solidarity with them because even if it’s the Catholic Church being attacked, we are all part of the Universal Church that’s why we get hurt on those matters),” said Agpaoa.
During the event, the protesters shared testimonies and prayers for truth, justice, peace amid the issues surrounding the country such as the controversial bill lowering the age of criminal liability, impunity and other injustices. (READ: House changes proposed minimum criminal liability age from 9 to 12 years old)
“Ang forces na nagkaisa sa amin dito ay ang mga kawalan ng hustisya, pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan at kahirapan. We look at these issues from the perspective of our faith kaya kahit iba-iba man ‘yung aming way of faith expressions, puwede kaming magkaisa sa ganitong kalagayan,” he said.
(The forces that united us here are injustice, abuse of power, and poverty. We look at these issues from the perspective of our faith that’s why even if we differ in our way of faith expressions, we can unite in this kind of situation.)
‘Don’t be reactionary’
Lamenting the lack of action of faith groups in the provinces, Reverend Sonny San Pedro of the United Methodist Church in Bulacan urged everyone to not just consider one’s personal situation but instead, look at the bigger picture.
“Kapag natapakan mo ‘yung paa ko, walang ibang aaray kung hindi ako. Kaya kung minsan kapag hindi tayo nasasaktan, hindi nabubuksan ang isip (If you step on my foot, no one will get hurt except me. That’s why we don’t become aware when we don’t get hurt.)
“Huwag tayong maging reactionary (Let us not be reactionary),” San Pedro added.
Aside from religious groups such as the Episcopal Commission on the Laity, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Promotion of Church People’s Response, and Catholic educational institutions, progressive organizations also joined the event. – Rappler.com