Thousands of Catholics took to the streets of several major cities across the Philippine on Feb. 16 for the third annual "Walk for Life" march to voice concerns over threats to life. Organizers called the event "an act of solidarity
to uphold the dignity of life" that was prompted by "local and global developments." Among issues raised were drug-related killings in the Philippines, the recent bombings of a church and a mosque in Mindanao, and the proposed re-imposition of the death penalty
, among others. "This walk is for the life of every person who has been a victim of a culture of death," read a statement from the Council of the Laity and the Episcopal Commission on the Laity of the bishops' conference. They called on people to "discern and expose deceptive ideologies and actions that seek to destroy life." The church groups also "condemned" the influx of Chinese
workers in the country, abortion "in all its forms," the "systematic pillage" of natural resources, the "poor implementation" of genuine land reform, among other social issues. "We cannot accept being governed by laws and policies that deceive and were crafted based on manipulated facts," read the statement. Without mentioning drug-related killings, the church groups said they could not agree with the premise that solutions to social problems require that some of should die. Parishioners from around the Philippine capital Manila join the 'Walk for Life' early on Feb. 16. (Photo by Joe Torres) Don't vote for 'greedy' candidates
In his homily during a Mass at the end of the "Walk for Life" in the Philippine capital, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila urged people not to vote for "greedy" candidates in the coming national elections. "I hope that our society becomes a womb that gives life because the hands are generous, not greedy," said the cardinal, adding that voters should not support candidates who only think of themselves, not the people they are supposed to serve. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, head of the Episcopal Commission on the Laity, also warned against "candidates who have no convictions and do not want to stand for the truth in life."
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The prelate also called on President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been attacking church leaders, not to take it out against bishops who speak out against his policies. "What we are criticizing is not his administration but some policies of his administration that are wrong," said Bishop Pabillo. "We have to use our religious authority, precisely to teach people what is right and wrong," he added. "We are not criticizing [Duterte], but what he is doing," he added. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle delivers a homily at the end of the 'Walk for Life' in Quezon City, in Manila, on Feb. 16. (Photo by Joe Torres) Growing number of young people
Cardinal Tagle, meanwhile, welcomed what he said was the growing number of young people who joined the march, which is in its third year. "Let this be part of your growing up year and memory," said the prelate as he expressed hope that the experience be passed on to the next generation. He urged people to commit themselves to nurturing life ... especially a life of faith, life of decency, life of values." Simultaneous events, which started at four o'clock in the morning, were also held in the cities of Dagupan, Tarlac, Cebu, Ormoc and Cagayan de Oro. Groups also gathered in the towns of Palo and Palompon in the central Philippine province of Leyte.