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Filipino Catholics protest ahead of revolution anniversary

Police remove hunger striking priests, nuns from 1986 'People Power' memorial

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Updated: February 23, 2018 09:05 AM GMT
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Filipino Catholics protest ahead of revolution anniversary

Priests and nuns lead a group of farmers in a fast ahead of the 32nd anniversary of the 1986 Philippine People Power revolution that restored democracy to the country. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

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Catholic priests and nuns in the Philippines are leading protests in the run-up to the 32nd anniversary of the peaceful revolution that restored democracy in 1986.

Farmers and fishermen joined several priests and nuns in a nine-day protest fast this week that was supposed to end on Feb. 25, the anniversary of the uprising, but was cut short two days early.

The protesters said they wanted to dramatize their opposition to the proposed rewriting of the country's 31-year old constitution to pave the way to federalism.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been pressing for federalism, claiming it would usher in development, especially in the provinces.

The fast ended early on Feb. 23 after police forced the protesters to leave the protest site — the same location of the 1986 "People Power" uprising.

Father Robert Reyes, dubbed the "running priest" for his penchant to run for causes, said the protesters only wanted to voice their opposition to charter change moves.

"A shift to federalism will only give greater powers to family dynasties and landlords in the provinces," said the priest.


Walk for Life

Another show of Catholic unity against issues church leaders view as "anti-life" — drug-related killings, abortion, divorce, death penalty, among others — was to be led by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila on Feb. 24.

In a video message prior to the event, the cardinal stressed the importance of participation, saying it was a way of showing people's solidarity with those whose lives are being threatened.

"Let us walk for our brothers and sisters whose lives are not only encountering problems but are also being threatened," Cardinal Tagle said.

"Let us walk for life, and as we walk, let us uphold the gift of life which is often disrespected," he added.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the "Walk for Life" aims "to uphold human life and dignity of life" and "to denounce the culture of violence."

In a statement, the Catholic Council of the Laity in the Philippines said the walk will be "an act of solidarity to uphold the dignity of life."

"We stand by the universal truth that human life is the apex of God's creation thus the need to uphold, protect, and defend it at all cost," read the group's statement.

"This walk is for the life of every person who has been a victim of this culture of death," it added.

The group said that as Christians "we stand together because we have the responsibility to care for our fellow human beings and to ensure that the common good and justice prevail."

It added that the "Walk for Life" is not being held to condemn the wrongs done, "but also to pray that the hearts of those who pursue such wrongs may be touched and softened by our collective action."

The walk was scheduled to kick off at 4 a.m. on Feb. 24 in every major city across the country. 

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