MANILA - Around 3,000 people from different religions made a statement against terror by joining a symbolic march at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Sunday, a week after twin blasts in a Jolo cathedral killed dozens and injured at least a hundred others.
Muslims met with priests and representatives of Christian groups, embraced each other and exchanged handshakes during the "Lakad tungo sa kapayapaan, iwaksi ang karahasan" (Walk toward peace, forsake violence) event.
Sectoral representatives read and signed a peace pledge, exchanged a Qur'an and Bible, and released doves as symbolic gestures.
Members of the military and police and other cause-oriented groups also joined the march.
At the program, Muslim leaders spoke against the use of violence in the name of Islam and called the perpetrators of the Jolo blasts and the subsequent bombing of a mosque in Zamboanga City as "evil."
"If the perpetrators are proven to be extremists like the Abu Sayyaf, they should not claim to be Muslim dahil hindi ito gawa ng Muslim," said Sec. Saidamin Pangarungan of the National Council for Muslim Filipinos.
Fr. Onie Rosaroso, vicar general of the national police, said they grieved at the deaths of active church leaders in Jolo, but still believe in peace.
"Together with our Muslim brothers and sisters, we are one in order to achieve peace. Of course 'yung mga karahasan na nangyari, we will pray hard na sana hindi na iyan mauulit," he said.
The event was organized after Muslim leaders pitched the idea to authorities, National Capital Region Police Office chief Dir. Guillermo Eleazar said.
"Ito ay pagpapakita na ang anumang nangyari sa Mindanao ay mangyari dito," he said.
"Ang ating pulis at kasundaluhan, hindi natin kaya na kami lang na haharap sa hamon na ito. Kailangan natin ang tulong ng lahat ng mamamayan--iyon ang na-achieve natin," he said.