12/10/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Zamboanga: Christians and Muslims march for peace and human rights By Santosh Digal

by Santosh Digal
Religious leaders, activists and students take part in an interfaith prayer rally on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Interfaith prayers and torchlight processions are held in memory of those who died or disappeared in the struggle for democracy. The Catholic Church calls for integrity and honesty among the country’s ruling class.
Zamboanga City (AsiaNews) – Muslim and Christian religious leaders led an interfaith prayer rally in Zamboanga City yesterday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which falls today.

The rally began at Plaza Pershing in downtown Zamboanga with the participation of many students and activists.

The rally, which lasted more than two hours, ended with prayers led by Pastor Vicente Climaco, of the Trinity Episcopal Church.

March organisers showed pictures of Filipino activists who were brutally killed or disappeared over the past few years. In their memory candles were lighted and prayers were offered in front on their picture.

Human rights activists blame the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the many political killings in the country.

According to the latest figures, 977 cases of extrajudicial killings and 201 victims of enforced disappearances were recorded since President Arroyo came to power in 2001

The “innumerable human rights violations” in the country ought to be a source of “shame and embarrassment,” said Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, in a stern press release issued yesterday.

It “gives us a feeling of shame and embarrassment because of the innumerable human rights violations that have remained unexamined, unexplained and unsolved or covered up by events,” the prelate lamented.

“We are ashamed, and we hope it is not completely true, that our country is said to be the most corrupt in Asia and the second most corrupt in the world. This is because of human rights violations in various degrees,” he added.

Still Archbishop Lagdameo urged people to remain hopeful as he alluded to the upcoming presidential elections in 2010. The country could still find “candidates who are above all honest and truthful,” conscious of the errors of the past and ready to face the future with renewed hope.

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