Plaza Miranda interfaith rally Sunday to call for release of ICRC workers

Swiss national Andreas Notter, head of the ICRC office in Zamboanga;  water and habitat specialists Mary Jean Lacaba, a Filipino engineer and Italian Eugenio Vagni — had just left the provincial jail for their regular visit, at around 11:30 a.m. January 15 when the armed men took them.

The three arrived in Jolo on January 13 and were supposed to have left for Zamboanga afternoon of January 15.

Sunday’s gathering is a follow-up to the simultaneous prayer rallies in three major mosques in Manila – the Golden Mosque in Quiapo; Salam Mosque in Tandang Sora, Quezon City; and Blue Mosque in Brgy. Maharlika in Taguig City, during their Friday noon prayer.

“All faiths, organizations and Filipinos from different walks of life will gather this Sunday at Plaza Miranda to address our call to our Muslim brothers in Mindanao to let these ICRC workers be freed immediately without any conditions,” said Penny Disimban, President of Assalam Bangsamoro People’s Association in a press statement.

Other groups that have signified participation to the rally are  the  Office of the Muslim Affairs (OMA), Center for Moderate Muslims (CMM), Young Moro Professional  Network (YMPN) and Insan Islamic Assembly (IIA), Ayala Young Leaders Alliance, Asia America Initiative (AAI), Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC), PR Global Team, Harvard Project for Asia and International Relations,  Anak Mindanao Party List, Aksyon ng Mamamayang Nagkakaisa, UP Manila Student Council, Manila Islamic Center, Medical Students for Social Responsibility and Youth Assembly of the Archdiocese of Manila.

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC)  is also participating in the prayer rally.

"We are supporting these Muslim groups on their efforts in bringing the call to action on a higher level by enjoining all concerned groups, institutions, organizations and faiths to gather and be one with us as we continue to call for peace and for the safe and immediate release of the innocent Red Cross workers,” PNRC chair Senator Richard Gordon said.

A PNRC press statement said PNRC Southern Luzon, National Capital Region (NCR) and Central Luzon will participate in the prayer rally “while other chapters are enjoined to conduct similar activities in their own area to show unity and solidarity among Red Cross staff and volunteers.”

Among the chapters mobilized by the PNRC are Caloocan City, Las Piñas, Manila, Malabon City, Palawan, Pasay City, Quezon City, Rizal, Valenzuela, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Marinduque, Mindoro Oriental, Occidental Mindoro, Quezon-Lucena, Romblon, San Pablo, Olongapo, Pampanga-Angeles City, Bataan, Tarlac and Zambales Chapters.

“Many lives have been sacrificed, the blood of several innocent civilians and soldiers have been shed, and yet our call for the freedom of Notter, Vagni and Lacaba has fallen on deaf ears. We will not stop to pray until such time that the captors will release the Red Cross workers,” Gordon added. (MindaNews)