MANILA, Philippines—The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has called the public to join its “heal the nation” march along the historic EDSA on November 5.
The CBCP on Friday invited the public to attend a mass at the EDSA Shrine at 3 p.m. on November 5 to “pray for the victims of extrajudicial killings” under the government’s bloody drug war.
After the mass, the public is invited to walk along the stretch of EDSA to join in the candle-lighting ceremony that will be held at the People Power Monument.
For the walk, the CBCP said that it will use the image of the Our Lady of Fatima, the same image brought by devotees during the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that ousted the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
In a statement, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, said: “We believe that our national healing, which only Lord can grant, will come to us through the hands of His mother.”
Villegas added that people from all walks of life, including politicians and authorities, are welcome to join the procession.
EDSA has been a common venue for gatherings and protests although attendance varies because of highway’s association with the 1986 People Power Revolution and the two Aquino administrations that came after.
The People Power Monument was the site of a spontaneous rally protesting the burial of Marcos’ remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani last November.
Month-long prayer campaign
The “Lord Heal Our Land Sunday” on November 5 will commence a month-long period of church activities for the continued healing of the nation. It will end on December 5, which marks the solemnity of Immaculate Conception.
“Within this 33-day period, we are requested to pray the rosary and receive Holy Communion, if possible every day, for the healing of our bleeding nation and for the peace of the souls of all those killed,” Villegas added.
This comes after the CBCP declared September 23 to November 1 as “season of mourning and prayers for the victims of the spreading culture of killings.”
During the said period, church bells are tolled at every 8:00 p.m. in remembrance of the slain and bereaved due the government’s drug war.
Last month, the CBCP issued a pastoral statement that condemned the killing of three teenagers—Kian Delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo De Guzman—and the apparent “remorselessness” amid the rising toll of deaths under the drug war.
Manila Archdiocese Luis Cardinal Antonio Tagle last September 8, said that the tolling of the bell is “to call on everyone to remember the dead and pray for them.”
“The tolling of church bells in the evening to pray for the dead is an old Filipino custom that has almost disappeared. Now is the right time to revive it,” Tagle added.
The latest police data records show that there are 6,225 drug-related killings, but none of those are recognized as extra-judicial killing.
According to the #RealNumbersPH August 29 update, there were 3,811 drug personalities who died in anti-drug operations.
From July 1 to September 30, PNP conducted 71,393 anti-drug operations that resulted in the arrest of 109,090 drug offenders.
However, human rights groups estimate a higher death toll, with some estimates going as high as 13,000 individuals killed in the course of the administration’s anti-narcotics campaign.
“These actions proved that the PNP values the right to life of these unfortunate victims of illegal drug,” PNP said.