Philippines united in prayer after year of natural disasters and unrest

Published 20 January 2014  |  
(AP)
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle (fourth from left) was among the faith leaders at the prayer event

President Benigno Aquino III was today leading the Philippines today the National Day of Prayer and Solidarity remembering those thousands killed by the various disasters the country 2013.

The event, known as "One Nation in Prayer" saw religious groups and churches across the country praying in unison at exactly 5pm local time.

President Aquino led the event from the grounds of Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the president of the Philippines.

Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr, of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said: "We call on all citizens to pause and join 'One Nation in Prayer' in their respective homes, communities, places of work and worship."

He added that the government wished to "thank the Almighty for the nation's strength and resilience, and to seek divine guidance as the country moves forward to rebuild the affected communities".

Victims of Typhoon Haiyan - known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines - were among those in attendance at Malacañang Palace, as well as groups affected by the 7.2-richter earthquake that hit the island of Bohol some three weeks after the typhoon.

Also present were people affected by the September 2013 armed uprising and subsequent siege of Zamboanga City in the south of the country.

Religious leaders expected to attend included Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Imam Ebra Moxsir of the Imam Council of the Philippines, Isaias Samson of the Church of Christ, and representatives of Filipino Evangelical churches and indigenous communities.

Secretary Coloma told state-run radio that Vice President Jejomar Binay and other national leaders as well as the mayors in the metropolitan region of Manila had also been invited.

In a statement, Mr Biany said: "Once again, let our faith in the Almighty guide us towards a better, more secure future for our countrymen whose lives may have been altered, yet remain steadfast and unconquered in spirit.

"And let us use this day to fervently pray for unity and an end to divisiveness, pettiness and hate. Let us embrace each other as brothers and sisters, united in moving our nation forward."

The UK continues to help the Philippines move forward in the aftermath of these events, and is delivering £75 million in humanitarian aid, targeting 800,000 in hard to reach areas.

Provisions include provision emergency shelter, safe drinking water, temporary classrooms, food, blankets, cooking utensils, seeds, farming tools, jerry cans, and solar lamps.

There have been 16 Cargo flights of aid launched to the Philippines from the UK, and there are 11 military aircraft working to distribute the aid across the country.

HMS Daring and HMS Illustrious have been redeployed to provide further logistical support.

Nearly 6,000 people were killed by Typhoon Haiyan.  The Bohol earthquake, which had the strength of 32 Hiroshima bombs, killed an additional 222.

Including civilian and military losses on both sides, the three week Zamboanga City siege killed 220 people.

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