For one justice, prayer is solution to Mindanao unrest

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2019 12:02 AM | Updated as of Jan 30 2019 12:53 AM

MANILA - In the midst of discussions at the Supreme Court on whether or not there is sufficient factual basis for the third extension of martial law in Mindanao, one justice offered a solution: prayer.

Justice Jose Reyes, Jr. made this suggestion as he was interpellating Solicitor General Jose Calida during the oral arguments on the petition questioning the martial law extension.

Reyes first asked Calida about the problem the government is trying to solve in declaring martial law and what solutions can the government provide to address the problem.

Calida cited the existence of rebellious and terrorist groups in Mindanao and mentioned economic solutions as among the answer, apart from insisting on martial law.

“Then perhaps, Mr. SolGen, not just economic. Religious solutions,” Reyes butted in.

“Do our soldiers pray?" he asked.

“Terrorism is a global problem. We have persecuted Christians in the Middle East. A lot of people have been praying. The problem seems escalating. As you said, it has gone to Asia.

My point here is on the, maybe, on the lighter side, other than the economic solution, then perhaps we should start to pray. Maybe we have forgotten to pray,” he said.
Calida could only muster a “Yes, your honor,” in response.

Reyes continued, “Then tell the soldiers to start praying. I’m serious about this because our bishops in Mindanao are crying for peace. Just recently, a church was bombed, right? They’ve all been praying. The Archbishop of Manila has urged all churches to pray.”

“I hope it is high time our soldiers should start to pray. Perhaps our terrorists will follow suit,” he added. “Mr. SolGen I hope you take that seriously.”

Calida agreed: “Yes, your honor, I believe in the efficacy and power of prayer.”

It didn’t take long before another justice begged to differ.

“This Court is not concerned about whether or not people pray, correct?" Justice Marvic Leonen asked while interpellating Free Legal Assistance Group head Chel Diokno, lawyer of the Lumad from Mindanao petitioners.

“This court is concerned whether or not an act of government is consistent with the secular Constitution, is that not correct? Therefore whether or not the military prays is not relevant to this forum, is this not correct?” he said.

Diokno could only agree.