Iloilo students at ‘Caravan for Life’ call for for love not violence

Iloilo students at ‘Caravan for Life’ call for for love not violence

Iloilo students show their rejection of the “culture of death” by joining the “Caravan for Life” on Feb. 24, 2017 in Iloilo City. (Photo: John Belle Agramon)

JARO, Iloilo City, Feb. 28, 2017 – “As children of God, our mission is to be persons for and with others; this means love and compassion, not violence and vengeance, truth and honesty, not lies and decadence!”

These were the words Chelsea Lagon, an Ateneo de Iloilo student, gave in her speech at the Jaro Cathedral to express the collective sentiment of the young people of her province amid the current threats of the “culture of death” manifested in the extra-judicial killings (EJK), the planned return of the death penalty, and the attempts to implement the “anti-life” provisions of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law.

In a show of solidarity with the nation-wide clamor against the EJKs, the death penalty bill, and abortion, students from various schools of this province hit the streets on Feb. 24 to join other citizens for the “Caravan for Life”.

The “Caravan for Life” took off at the St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary, passed through the main thoroughfares of Iloilo City, and culminated at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles (Jaro Cathedral) for the closing rites.

In their respective speeches, Jaro Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo, D.D., and Msgr. Meliton Oso, director of the Jaro Archdiocesan Social Action Center (JASAC), underlined the sacredness of human life and thus condemned the extra-judicial killings that, to date, has reached more than 7,000, and lambasted attempts in Congress to re-impose the death penalty.

A grave responsibility

A statement issued by the Jaro Archdiocesan Commission on Family and Life (ACFL) upheld the Christian teaching of God as the origin and end of all life and underlined the grave responsibility of every human person to care and defend it.

The statement contains a prayer composed for the occasion of the “Caravan for Life”, which reads:

“You have made it known to us and to the world that our lives are sacred and precious because they begin and end in You;

Accordingly, we are stewards of our lives and those of others and everything that You have entrusted to our care;

Merciful God, we ask for pardon and forgiveness for our negligence and our own failure and the failure of all people to respect and foster all forms of life in our country, the world and the universe.”

Students and faculty members of Ateneo de Iloilo-Santa Maria Catholic School gathered to protest the planned reimposition of the death penalty and the EJKs. (Photo: Herman Lagon)

Prayer vigil for life

In a related development, hundreds of students and faculty members of the Ateneo de Iloilo-Santa Maria Catholic School wore white shirts and lit candles on the night of Feb. 24, to also show support to the campaign for life.

The vigil, aptly held on the eve of the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution, kicked off at the school gym with a lecture-discussion on human rights facilitated by representatives from Amnesty International. This was followed by a prayer service, led by the school chaplain Fr. Ruben Orbeta, SJ, culminating with the rosary, candle-lighting rites and community singing. (CBCPNews with reports from Herman Lagon and Lina Layson)