MANILA -- The public should strive to be "instruments of peace", President Rodrigo Duterte said as he addressed millions of Catholics celebrating Easter Sunday.
Easter, the most important day in the Catholic Church's liturgical calendar, commemorates the day Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead.
Christ's resurrection "is truly an occasion of hope and inspiration for all of as we commemorate the narrative of the Savior's sacrifice on the cross and how He restored as to the fullness of life," Duterte said in a statement.
"May this time of new beginnings inspire us to always choose what is good and uplifting. Let us strive to be instruments of peace in our families and communities and foster greater harmony and understanding wherever and whenever it is most needed," he urged the public.
Duterte said he also hoped that Easter would be a time to "rekindle our shared commitment in nation-building, especially in the upcoming midterm elections."
"May it (elections) become an exercise of integrity and reflect the true will of the people. It is my hope that the evil caused by the societal ills we are confronting today will be swept away by our strong faith in the Almighty," he said.
EASTER AN INSPIRATION TO CHANGE
Vice President Leni Robredo, meanwhile, urged the faithful to use Easter as an inspiration to turn over a new leaf.
"Tandaan natin: ang bawat isa sa atin ay may pag-asa, kakayahan at pagkakataong magbago at mas pagpabutihin ang ating mga sarili, hindi lang para sa sarili nating interes kundi para sa kapakanan ng ating kapwa at ng minamahal nating bayan," she said in a statement.
(Let us remember: each of us has hope, the capability and chance to change and improve ourselves, not just for personal interest but for the sake of others and our beloved country.)
"Anu man ang ating pinagdadaanan o kahaharapin pa, gawin sana nating inspirasyon si Kristo at ang araw na ito upang magpatuloy sa ating paglalakbay. Huwag sana tayong panghinaan ng loob na magsimulang muli at magbagong-buhay," she added.
(No matter what we are going through or will face, may we use Christ and this day as an inspiration to continue our journey. Let us not lose faith in starting over and changing our lives.)
Robredo and Duterte have been at odds over several issues, including the President's anti-narcotics drive, which has seen thousands of drug suspects killed after allegedly fighting off authorities.
Duterte has also repeatedly slammed Catholic leaders for criticizing the crackdown.