Thousands of Catholics join rally vs death penalty, EJKs | SunStar

Thousands of Catholics join rally vs death penalty, EJKs

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Thousands of Catholics join rally vs death penalty, EJKs

Saturday, February 18, 2017

MANILA. Thousands of Roman Catholics sing religious songs following a "Walk for Life" march around Manila's Rizal Park to oppose the revival of the death penalty by the Congress as well as the killings of drug users and drug pushers in the so-called war on drugs by President Rodrigo Duterte at dawn Saturday, February 18, 2017 in Manila. The Catholic Church expressed alarm over the killings of more than 7,000 people so far since President Duterte assumed office June 30 of last year. (AP Photo)

MANILA (Updated) -- Never life in fear.

That was the message of Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas to the thousands of Filipino Catholics joining Saturday's Walk for Life in Manila.

The three-hour rally was organized to oppose the revival of the death penalty by the Congress as well as the killings of drug users and drug pushers in the so-called war on drugs by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Police have estimated the crowd in Manila's Rizal Park to be at 10,000.

Villegas urged the Filipinos Catholics to never live in terror, even in the face of violence and looming attempts to reinstate the capital punishment.

"The sun will soon rise. There will be hope. Never be afraid of darkness. Never live in fear," said Villegas.

The Walk for Life, which is led by the Council of the Laity, was organized after the Catholic Church expressed alarm over the killings of more than 7,000 people so far since Duterte assumed office June 30 of last year.

Villegas said Walk for Life is not a protest but "a commitment to the sacredness of life given by God."

He said killing would not resolve the country's problems and would only result in rampant aggression.

"All sins against God begin with blasphemy, or trying to destroy the honor of God," Villegas said, whose group had been a subject of Duterte's repeated attacks for their "hypocrisy" over corruption and sexual abuses.

"We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing those who kill. It also increases the number of killers," he added.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle called on the Filipino people to help save the lives of those who are facing imminent danger.

"While we are here, we have to save many lives. Save lives," Tagle said. "Save the lives of those who are at risk. We can save their lives when we show concern and love."

Villegas said the public should have the courage to fight against violence.

"Let us face those who threaten us and show our inner strength… They cannot scare us because our faith in God is stronger," he said.

The rally was attended by Senator Leila de Lima, a Duterte critic who is facing imminent arrest in connection with her drug-related cases filed before a Muntinlupa court, and actress Cherry Pie Picache, a staunch advocate against death penalty. (SunStar Philippines)

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