MANILA, Dec. 15, 2011—Christians and non-Christians were united in declaring their anti-RH, pro-life and pro-peace stand as they comprised the approximately 10,000-strong crowd that turned up for a December 9-10 protest activity in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur.
Dubbed “Panaw ug Sakripisyo alang sa Kinabuhi” (March Rally and Sacrifice for Life), the 2-day event was initiated by Pagadian Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar, CSsR, DD, and participated in by 24 parishes, four vicariates, inter-faith organizations and Moro Communities from several cities in Mindanao.
According to organizers, the two-day protests, which started with synchronized rallies and marches from Western and Eastern parts of the Pagadian Diocese, aimed to demand local government units and other agencies to religiously carry out their responsibilities as servants of the people; to challenge the faithful to care and protect the environment; to manifest the united stance of the Church against mining applications and operations, the reproductive health (RH Bill) and other dehumanizing issues in Pagadian; to deepen and strengthen commitment to preserve and protect life; and to make sacrifices in order to achieve the movement of sustaining life.
The Grand Rally held on the second day took place at the junction of FS Fajares St. and Rizal Avenue, Pagadian City, and was officially opened by the entrance of the images of the Blessed Mother, Saint Michael the Archangel, and the Holy Child — Patron of the Diocese of Pagadian – followed by an interfaith prayer led by an Imam and a Pastor of the United Church of Christ (UCCP).
Cabajar said the two-day protests manifested the voice of the people urging elected officials to represent their stand against RH bill, all forms of mining and human rights violations confronting the church and the society.
The Grand Rally generated support from different local churches. In a written statement sent by Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President and Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma, the prelate reiterated his support and prayers for the success of the grand protest to protect and preserve life.
Ozamiz Archbishop Jesus Dosado and Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar also sent their statements of support to Pagadian for holding the protest in support of life and environment. Bishop Edwin dela Peña of Marawi spoke in one of the gatherings.
The Apostolic Vicariate of the Jolo Social Action Center in its email message likewise expressed its spirit of solidarity through its BEC Leaders and communities as fasting, prayer and penance began on December 4 for the success of the event.
The Sisters’ Association in Mindanao (SAMIN), the Mindanao Social Action Network and the Indigenous People likewise expressed their solidarity with the Pagadian diocese in its call for the protection of life and of creation.
After Cabajar gave the welcome address, the RH issue was immediately tackled by Economics instructor and Law student Jan Louenn Lumanta of the Dipolog diocese.
Lumanta launched into an eye-opening talk that included the overpopulation myth, positive dimension of population growth, disadvantages of an aging population, and the significance of the National Security Study Memorandum 200 or the document better known as NSSM 200 or the Kissinger report.
Lumanta, also a member of Filipinos for Life (F4L), likewise dwelt on the long-term results of secular sex education, pointing out that within a 30-year time period – particularly 1960-1991—disturbing trends were established in American society: an 800% increase in abortions on demand, 245% increase in the Incidence of venereal diseases , 457% increase in illegitimate births, 500% increase in child abuse cases, 133% increase in divorce.
Other speakers during the event were Sammy Maulana, Secretary General of the Consortium of Bangsa-Moro Civil Society Organization, Cotabato, who reiterated the Muslim community’s stand against the RH Bill and other human life violations; Pricilla Saladaga who spoke about mining issues; and Carino Antequisa, CAFOD Accompanier, who tackled the current situation on human rights.
In a press conference at Roxan Hotel that capped the event, Lumanta shared how his path in the pro-life advocacy began, then read selected portions of Blessed John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae.
Groups that took part in the two-day rally and protest activity were 24 parishes and two sub-parishes of the Diocese of Pagadian; four vicariates; family and life organizations; Social Action Centers of the Dioceses of Dipolog, Ozamiz, Pagadian, Iligan, and Marawi (DOPIM); DOPIM Bishops and Commissions on Communication; Saint Columban College, Catholic schools in the Diocese, various non-government organizations; Moro communities, and interfaith groups. (CBCP for Life)