Pilgrims protest cross removal in central Philippines

February 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Philippines, February 23, 2017: Pilgrims in the central Philippine province of Leyte are protesting against a local government plan to tear down a cross on top of a hill and replace it with a new one.

The cross on top of Guinhangdan Hill, which offers a panoramic view of Leyte Gulf where American General Douglas MacArthur landed in 1944 during World War II, has become a landmark in the province.

The hill is also a favorite pilgrimage site during Holy Week when thousands of devotees climb 522 steps to the cross where candles and flowers are offered.

The government is looking for contractors willing to undertake the project.

Protesters, however, said the structure needs no alteration because it is “still strong and appears architecturally sound.”

Father Ivo Velasquez from the Archdiocese of Palo, said “improvements could be made to the surrounding area without touching the monument itself.”

“It would appear to be a waste to spend government money on something which is in no need of alteration,” said the priest.

Rolando Borrinaga, a member of the National Committee on Historical Research, said the age of the structure and the tradition it has created qualifies the cross as a “built heritage” structure under the law, making it worth preserving. “Destroying this structure, which was apparently built with contributions and volunteer labor from the community, would not only be sacrilegious, it is also against an existing law,” said Borrinaga.

– ucan

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