Walk for Life draws thousands in Manila
MANILA — Catholics and other Christian groups converged at the nation’s capital for a prayer rally at pre-dawn Saturday.
With the nation reeling from widespread drug-related violence, speakers at Walk for Life spoke of the challenges Filipinos are facing.
Mrs. Zenaida Capistrano, president of the Council of the Laity of the Philippines, said the rally wanted to demonstrate that life is sacred.
“Life is just borrowed from God, it must be cared for most of the time,” Capistrano said.
“Let’s hope that our walking would lead us to a path of understanding and the fulfillment of our goals,” she said.
Thousands of lay people rallied at the Quirino Grandstand, pressing for an end to extrajudicial killings and to oppose the reimposition of death penalty.
A sea of white shirts, hallmark of the pro-life movement, took over the area and filled it with prayers along with some bishops, priests, and religious men and women.
The CLP, founded in 1950, includes a coalition of diocesan and national lay organizations and movements and has been serving as the strong arm of the Church for lay apostolate.
With their calls for prayer and unity, speakers generally focused on spiritual rather political solutions to the nation’s problems. The event had been encouraged by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Rallyists walked around the area of the grandstand, praying the rosary while carrying banners and placards with the words “No to extrajudicial killings” and “No to death penalty”.
Some students’ sign read, “Yes to life, no to culture of death,” while another poster said, “Thou shall not kill”. “Defend life,” proclaimed a banner of the Knights of Columbus.
Organizers claimed around 20,000 people attended the prayer rally from at least 21 Catholic dioceses in Luzon and from other Christian churches.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP President, said it is encouraging that many people are taking a stand with the issues the country is facing.
“The outcome was unexpected. We wanted this big but we did not expect that many people will come,” Villegas said.
“It means that there’s a need that they would want to express themselves. These people were not forced to join. It’s early in the morning and many come from far places,” he said.
Organizers said among the participants come from as far as the Mountain province, Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija and Batangas.