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Philippines marks 35th People Power Revolution anniversary

Well-known priests stage Way of the Cross protest against extrajudicial killings 35 years after fall of Marcos

Philippines marks 35th People Power Revolution anniversary

From left, Fathers Villanueva, Reyes and Alejo lead the Way of the Cross in Manila on Feb. 24 to condemn extrajudicial killings and to mark the 35th anniversary of the People Power Revolution. (Photo supplied)

Churchmen in the Philippines, including the papal nuncio, have commemorated the 35th anniversary of the People Power Revolution that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Millions of Catholics spearheaded by then Manila archbishop, Jaime Cardinal Sin, flocked to Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue (ESDA) in the capital between Feb. 22-25 of that year calling for the removal of the strongman.

Thirty-five years later, papal nuncio Archbishop Charles John Brown celebrated Mass on Feb. 24 at the shrine built to remember the revolution dubbed by locals as the “most peaceful” political rally in history.

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“Justice is the foundation of peace in society. When there is no justice, when people can’t receive justice, they react in violent ways,” the archbishop said in his homily.

Archbishop Brown said what happened more than three decades ago taught the world that peace is the product of justice.

“One cannot separate peace from justice. Peace is the product of justice. So, whenever we can promote justice in society, we are promoting peace,” Archbishop Brown added.

The pope’s envoy stressed that the revolution was a reminder to Filipinos that unity between rich and poor was possible for social change.

“Fairness and justice mean that equality in dignity is respected … in order to have peace in society there needs to be justice, people need to be treated fairly,” he said.

Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo called on people to protect the spirit of the revolution for a brighter future of the nation.

“Let us protect the spirit of EDSA. It teaches us that democracy is real and precious, yet needs to be protected against those who threaten it. Let us oppose all attempts to control us and to scare us off in expressing ourselves,” the bishop said in his homily at Manila Cathedral.

Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos, however, lamented that despite the annual celebration, the spirit of “people power” was being threatened by those who were supposed to protect it.

“Some leaders from that time failed to live up to our trust and to the legacy of EDSA. Let us commemorate it to give what is best, right and moral to our country and to God; not to oneself or to a particular party or color,” the bishop told Radio Veritas.

Meanwhile, three clergymen led the Way of the Cross on Feb. 24 for families and friends of those killed in extrajudicial killings during the administration of Rodrigo Duterte, the current president.

Divine Word Father Flavie Villanueva, Jesuit Father Albert Alejo and Father Robert Reyes — known as the running priest — walked through the streets of Quezon City in Manila carrying a large cross.

All three are staunch critics of Duterte’s war on illegal drugs which rights groups say has claimed the lives of thousands of victims.

Government figures indicate at least 8,663 people have been killed, but some estimates from rights groups put the toll at triple that number.

Fathers Alejo and Villanueva are facing sedition charges, while Father Reyes has claimed he has received death threats for publicly criticizing drug-related killings in his parish in Manila.

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