MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte urged the public to pray for the country as Filipino Catholics commemorate the feast of the Black Nazarene on Monday.
Duterte said one's desires can be achieved through relentless faith and perseverance, as exhibited by millions of devotees who participate every ear in the annual Black Nazarene Traslacion.
"Good fortunes are usually borne out of hard work and perseverance. Prayers are likely answered because we do not give up or get tired from asking God for the fulfillment of our heart's desires. Such is the phenomenal expression of faith of the millions of devotees in the form of gratitude, petition, and sacrifice shown in the image of the Black Nazarene every feast day on the 9th of January every year," he said.
"We are neither exhausted by praying constantly nor do we ever falter in expressing our religious fervor. Despite the passage of time, we relentlessly fight against injustice and lies; abuse of power; and the corruption that eats up the soul."
The government, Duterte added, empathizes with the faith of Filipinos who "resort to sacrifice every single day, while still finding a piece of themselves to honor God."
"Through our fervent prayers for the country, let us join the Catholic faithful in the passionate observance of the Feast of the Black Nazarene," ended his statement.
The Philippines, where nearly 90 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, is famous for its colorful festivals and religious feasts, with the Black Nazarene also paraded through the city streets on Good Friday to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Duterte has repeatedly lambasted Catholic priests who have criticized the spate of killings in his anti-narcotics crackdown.
The President is also pushing for the reimposition of the death penalty and an aggressive implementation of the reproductive health law despite opposition from Catholic leaders.