'DEVIL'S WORK' SPOILS ANTI-DRUG RALLY ON MALACANANG GROUNDS

Malacanang Palace, July 20, 2003 By REGINA BENGCO (MALAYA) A heavy downpour, the work of the Devil according to program organizers, spoiled Saturday's anti-drug prayer rally at the Malacaņang Gardens, drenching more than 300 participants, mostly students.

The rain started during the ecumenical prayer for the success of the rally, which was organized by the Jesus Is Lord movement and by presidential adviser on media and ecclesiastical affairs Conrado Limcaoco.

It got stronger during the prayer for drug lords and pushers.

Msgr. Hernando Coronel, spokesman of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines, said drug lords could not possibly hide from Him the way they hide from the authorities.

"Touch them where only you can touch them," Coronel prayed, as the rain poured.

The organizers made no attempt to cover the students, most of whom are in grade school and wearing their uniforms. Other participants found shelter in the lobby of Kalayaan Hall.

The improvised roof on top of the stage sheltered government officials led by President Arroyo, Interior Secretary Jose Lina Jr., police anti-drugs task force head Edgardo Aglipay, and Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo.

As the rain got stronger, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, head of JIL movement, was called to "exorcise" the downpour.

Villanueva said the downpour is obviously the work of the Devil, who is bent on wrecking the special event to thwart the plans of the Evil One by stopping the rain.

Villanueva's call was met with a clap of thunder.

The prayers for the drug users and victims and the drug enforcers followed.

When Arroyo delivered her speech, the rain had abated. She said the downpour was part of the challenge to the anti-drug campaign.

Arroyo reiterated her directive that a "burning day" be set for destroying seized drugs and that the names of suspected drug traders be publicized.

By the time she was finished, the rain had stopped and Villanueva said God had answered his prayers. Religious leaders then prayed for the nation and singer Jamie Rivera sang "Heal Our Land" and "Let There Be Peace on Earth."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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