South Cotabato declares day of prayer

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 January) — The provincial government of South Cotabato has declared every third Friday of January as a “day of prayer” in the entire province.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes issued on Thursday, Jan. 12, Executive Order No. 03, setting every third Friday of January as the provincial prayer day and enjoining the participation of various sectors within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

“All churches, religious communities, and religious and civic organizations in the province of South Cotabato are requested to commemorate the day fittingly by encouraging their faithful to participate on said day of prayer, emphasizing the need for peace, not only in South Cotabato but throughout the country,” the order said.

In a press conference on Friday, the governor said the move is an offshoot of the “numerous problems” faced by the province these past months — from the onslaught of the El Nino Phenomenon to the rise in criminal activities and security-related concerns.

She cited the series of armed attacks as well as the burning of passenger buses and heavy equipment in quarry and government project sites.

Fuentes said the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have tagged New People’s Army (NPA) rebels as behind the attacks but could not act decisively due to the government’s unilateral ceasefire in line with the ongoing peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front.

“This may appear as a desperate move but that’s our situation now. And we believe in the power of prayer. Everything is possible when we all unite and pray,” she said.

The governor said the provincial government has taken steps to address the problems that plagued that province but can only accomplish so much because of limited means.

Realizing that they cannot fully address the problems alone, she said they resorted to staging a day of prayer of peace and reconciliation to “call for divine intervention in order to heal our land and free all forms of adversaries and disasters the province may face.”

In line with the declaration, Fuentes said the provincial government will lead a prayer rally at the provincial sports complex football field in Koronadal City on Jan. 27 or a week after the declared provincial prayer day.

Dubbed “Pangamuyo 2017: a prayer gathering for peace and unity,” she said they expect around 4,000 residents from various sectors to join the event.

She said local churches and religious sects such as Catholics, Pentecostals Evangelicals, Muslims, Indigenous Peoples and other Independent religious groups have signified to participate in the gathering.

The prayer rally will start at 4 p.m. and will be followed by a praise and worship celebration.

Fuentes said they have invited Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza to join the gathering.

In a briefer, the provincial government said the purpose of the gathering is to “ask for God’s guidance towards the attainment of long lasting peace in the province and protection for the province’s officials, businessmen and residents.”

“We believe that it is only through unity among all our stakeholders and guidance coming from the Lord that we can attain peace,” it added. (MindaNews)