February 25, 2010
Fr. Robert Reyes, also known as the running priest, together with the urban poor walked and pushed Kariton ni Maria on a non-stop 28 hour pilgrimage or called as “Lakbay Dalangin” to seek and spread the light. A journey started at 8:00 am in Road 10, Navotas, gathering thousands of urban poor affected by the road widening project of Department of Works and Highways (DPWH). He finished the 28 hour pilgrimage on the following day, 25 February 2010, at 12 noon in the historical Edsa Shrine People Power Monument.
The Catholic priest and the thousands walking with him offered this sacrifice to remember, repeat, reflect, renew and realize the lessons, values, and Spirit of EDSA.
“The 28 hour pilgrimage or the Lakbay dalangin is my humble contribution to the commemoration of EDSA and to thank God that Kariton ni Maria has been part of our history for about ten years bringing light and blessings for us forever. It is toward this light that Kariton ni Maria will always journey,” said Fr. Reyes.
The pilgrimage’s route retraced Fr. Reyes’ 28 years in priesthood serving God and the people. The pilgrimage passed by his respective parishes where he was ordained and where he worked as a parish priest. He also paid homage to the retired priests at the Cardinal Sin Retirement Home For Priests who influenced him to walk the talk of the church. The pilgrimage passed through government offices which he continually engaged striving to make them serve and not betray God and the People to whom they owe allegiance. It traveled to all the urban poor communities where he had worked and somehow, as though miraculously, helped to stop demolitions and evictions. Then to the Golden Mosque of Quiapo, where Muslim friends waited and joined him to pray for better Christian and Muslim ties.
The running priest held mass in front of the Commission on Election (Comelec) to bring genuine and profound change in the electoral exercise and the poll automation.
“It is also my prayer engaging body, mind and spirit that in the coming May 10, 2010 elections we will act according to what we have learned so that the light will finally shine and free us from all that enslaves and brings us all down. This is a call to various institutions which have the resources to be vigilant and ready to take the appropriate action and for every sector and individual to guard the ballots and to preserve the sanctity of the electoral process,” said the Palawan Diocese-based Catholic priest
“I am calling the attention of the Comelec, to impose a demolition moratorium as hundred thousands of urban poor might be disenfranchised of their right to vote. The urban poor just like the rest of us has the right to vote to elect leaders. Demolition and evictions are gravely abused by those in position to get the votes of the informal settlers. We hope that Comelec through this mass will heed our call,” Fr. Reyed added.
Reyes was joined by Task Force Anti-Eviction group composed of various people’s organizations and NGOs such as Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM) and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) Foundation, a housing rights organization supporting the cause of the urban poor and Kubol Pagasa.
Fr. Reyes concluded that, “This pilgrimage brings the value and relevance of EDSA that has lost 24 years later a peaceful struggle to reclaim our freedom and to exercise democracy in all its goodness. May our leaders re-learn the lessons and start a truly meaningful journey with the poor, before, during and most especially after elections.” -30-