Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Troops join prayers for peaceful elections

By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Some 5,000 heavily-armed soldiers on Monday gathered at the Armed Forces’ main camp at Camp Aguinaldo to seek “divine intervention” in fulfilling their election duties on May 10.

Dubbed as “A Day of Prayer for Hope and Healing,” leaders of various religious congregations joined the military and police personnel in calling for an orderly and peaceful election.

AFP chief General Delfin Bangit said the event was not meant to conduct loyalty check among the military, but a way to “seek divine intervention” in ensuring the success of the country’s first automated balloting.

“We have done everything we can as humans. Now after the human efforts, let us turn to Him for more strength and more guidance,” Bangit said in his speech at the interfaith gathering.

The two-hour prayer assembly also served as a send-off ceremony for soldiers who will be assigned in different parts of the country to maintain peace and order in voting centers.

Aside from the commanders of all AFP services and units, Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa and key police officials also joined the event.

Both Bangit and Verzosa maintained that soldiers and policemen will eschew any offer for them to commit election fraud, contrasting the claim of Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales that some AFP and PNP officials were offered with bribe money to rig the elections.

“We are all loyal to the Constitution, government, and the people,” Verzosa told reporters.

“I share the confidence of General Verzosa. Let us tell everyone that there will be elections on May 10,” Bangit said.

For its part, Verzosa said the PNP will sponsor a Mass to be celebrated by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio at the Shrine of St. Therese in Pasay City later in the day for the same purpose.

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