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Manila walks for life

MANILA (SE): Before the sun peeped over the horizon on February 18, waves of white were rolling into the Quirino Grandstand in Manila to join a Walk for Life and send a message to the congress that if Filipinos want their nation to free from violence, no one can be a perpetrator of violence, irrespective of the legal or judicial trappings that may accompany it.

The president of the Council of the Laity, Zenaida Capistrano, told the rally, “Life is just borrowed from God, it must be cared for.”

The rally called for an end to extrajudicial killings and on the congress not to re-impose the death penalty, praying the rosary as it snaked its way around the grandstand area displaying banners and placards proclaiming No to extrajudicial killings and No to death penalty.

Others read, Yes to life, no to culture of death, and yet another Thou shall not kill, Defend life.

Organisers claimed around 20,000 people attended the prayer rally from around the Luzon area.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the bishops’ conference, said that the turn out was a highly encouraging surprise. “The outcome was unexpected. We wanted this big, but we did not expect that many people will come,” CBCP News quoted him as saying.

“It means that people feel a need that they want to express themselves. No one was forced to join. It is early in the morning and many came from distant places,” he said.

But his strongest call was to the congress, asking for the decision on the death penalty to be made by a conscience vote, not down the lines of political alliances.

“Partisan politics is fleeting. Conscience is the voice of God inside every one of us. Respect our consciences,” the archbishop said.

He then called for an all-out effort to clean up the police and the judiciary, saying, “Execution is murder. We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing those who kill. It also increases the number of killers in our society.”

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