MANILA - House Speaker Sonny Bemonte is calling for an end to "unproductive criticism and faultfinding," saying these will only result in a "pained and divided nation."
In his Easter message released on Saturday, Belmonte said this year's Lenten season is a time for the people to meditate on the path that they seek not only for themselves and their families but also for the nation.
"I wish for us to achieve genuine peace and growth that stems from shared efforts and hard work coming from each of us. I wish for an end to unproductive criticism and faultfinding that will only result in a pained and divided nation," Belmonte said.
"I wish that we are each able to experience the blessings borne of our Savior's sacrifice. And that this blessing brings forth a grateful awakening in us as a people and affords us the meaningful changes we seek, and the upliftment of the lives of every Filipino family," he added.
The administration of President Benigno Aquino III is currently reeling from the fallout of the Mamasapano operation which ended in the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters.
Aquino has been heavily criticized for the January 25 mission for allowing then suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima to be involved.
The President has said he was responsible for the tragedy, but also pinned the blame on relieved SAF chief Getulio Napeñas for keeping the military in the dark about the operation.
Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, prayed for the families of the slain SAF troopers.
"To the families of the 44 fallen heroes of Mamasapano and countless others who were maimed by war and poverty, may the message of salvation and deliverance give them strength in the darkest times of their lives," she said.
"Change starts with being able to forgive and cleansing ourselves from the pain and suffering that we feel towards each other. Let us constantly follow the example set by our Lord, who prayed for the forgiveness of all those involved in His crucifixion."
"Sa ating pagpapanimulang muli, nawa'y maging inspirasyon ang pagkabuhay muli ni Hesukristo sa ating mga sariling buhay. Dala nito ang bagong lakas, sigla at galak para sa pagbubuo ng isang lipunang hangad ng bawat isa – malaya sa lahat ng sakit at pighati at para sa kapakanan ng nakararami," she added.
Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay said Easter is a time for reflection and renewal. "This special day reminds us that faith and hope must never be lost, and with love and compassion, we are always assured that whatever adversities shall pass," he said.
Binay, former mayor of Makati City, is facing various allegations of corruption, which he has branded as part of a supposed plan to derail his bid for the presidency in 2016.
In his Easter message, the Vice President also asked for prayers for Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina on death row in Indonesia.
"Let us pray that they may be given the chance to start anew, just as we were forgiven when our sins were washed away by Christ's dying on the cross," he said.
"And as more Filipinos continue to face hunger, may Easter serve as an opportunity for us to reach out and help those who are in need, and be an instrument of the Risen Christ's hope, faith and love."
'GIFT OF LIFE'
Former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, for her part, thanked God "for His gift of life, and imploring His continued blessings upon our country and our people."
"Of all the things that are of this earth, what indeed could be more earthly than death itself? By popular reckoning, it is even more certain than taxes. It is the fate that awaits all of us, without exception. But precisely because it is so certain and universal, the defeat of death by Christ’s resurrection is all the more glorious. By freely accepting death for the forgiveness of our sins, and then by rising to eternal life on the third day, Christ has claimed the authority to call us to be His followers," Arroyo said in her Easter message.
"It is from Christ alone whence come the gifts of new life: the humility to reform ourselves; the strength to endure offences and the patience to forgive offenders; the bold faith to love Christ and to love the rest of His children as He loves them too. It is He who holds open for us the doors beyond death," she added.
Arroyo is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) for a plunder case in connection with the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence funds during her term as president.