Black Nazarene devotees pray in front of the closed gate of Quiapo Church in Manila while observing social distancing.
The STAR/Edd Gumban
Duterte asks Filipinos: Pray together on Holy Wednesday as Philippines fight COVID-19
Alexis Romero ( - April 7, 2020 - 10:40am

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Filipinos to pray together on Wednesday as the Philippines struggles with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

"This being the Holy Week, I am calling on the nation to come together this Holy Wednesday afternoon and pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of the Filipino and unite in one prayer to God to fight our common enemy," the president said in a televised address Monday night.

Christians have been observing the Holy Week, which commemorates the passion and death of Jesus Christ, since Sunday.  

Duterte, who previously described himself as a believer of a Supreme Being but not of organized religion, said God is "the only one who can really solve the problem for us." He said the COVID-19 pandemic won't be solved until scientists discover a vaccine.

While calling for unity in prayer, Duterte could not help but take pot shots at the Roman Catholic Church, which has been critical of his brutal war on illegal drugs, a campaign that has left more than 5,000 drug suspects dead.

"My God is the true God. It’s only one God... I just talk to one God so a word is enough. I don't want several intermediaries like saints, as if there is a checkpoint. I go directly (to God). And I do not hear masses. My God is God the Father. He is only one," Duterte said.

The Catholic Church, the religious institution of more than 80% of Filipinos, venerates saints and considers them as models of the faith. While they only worship one God, Catholics believe that the saints can intercede for the living. 

Last month, Duterte issued Proclamation No. 934 declaring the fourth week of March as a National Week of Prayer and urged Filipinos to pray for the recovery of people afflicted with COVID-19, the comfort of those who lost loves ones, and the protection of all especially the most vulnerable sectors of society.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China has infected more than 3,000 people in the Philippines.

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