MANNILA, April 3, 2004
After praying at the holy site of Lourdes in Italy, Sen. Noli de Castro asked God in a written request to spare him from the rowdy world of Philippine politics, but he said the answer he got was a resounding no.

It was during De Castro’s second visit to the miraculous fount of Lourdes over the span of a decade when he had made his request of God, he said on the television program Impact 2004 hosted by STAR publisher Max V. Soliven over ABS-CBN News Channel 21.

"God must will it that I be a candidate, so I am running" for vice president, De Castro said.

Soon after his return from Lourdes, De Castro said, he was inundated with demands by the public and by friends that he should run for president or for vice president.

De Castro is seeking the second highest post in the land under the banner of the Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan sa Kinabukasan (K-4).

While he is well known as a veteran broadcast journalist and his voice is as recognizable as his name, De Castro’s religious bent is not general knowledge.

De Castro told Soliven that he is a devotee of the Black Nazarene housed at the Quiapo minor basilica in Manila.

"We lived in the Arlegui (area), near MLQU (Manuel Luis Quezon University) and I passed the Quiapo church every day and, one day, I saw a long line that led to the image of the Black Nazarene. (From then on,) I prayed to the Nazarene for success as a broadcaster," he said.

He also said that when he prays in Quiapo church, he walks on bended knees from the church entrance to the altar.

De Castro also joins the ranks of the devotees who pull the carroza of the Black Nazarene on Jan. 9 each year, during the feast of the Nazarene. Besides this, he also seeks the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes.

"I had no plans of campaigning because I had no plans to run" after winning a term in the Senate, he said, adding that he "planned to go back to broadcasting" when God’s message reached him and he decided to heed the call by running for vice president.

During the course of the show, De Castro refuted allegations that he did nothing during his term as senator, because "it hurts when they say you do nothing."

De Castro said he has filed 114 bills during his first three years as senator, adding that, "of 25 bills passed by the Senate, 15 were mine." He is also one of the co-authors of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Law President Arroyo signed into law yesterday.

He co-sponsored what is now the ADR law to help speed up the delivery of justice, particularly to the poor.

"The justice system is too slow and most of the people convicted by the courts are poor because the rich can afford to get better lawyers," De Castro said.

Among the other measures authored or sponsored by De Castro are bills that focus on the welfare of overseas Filipino workers, including the OFW livelihood law, which provides livelihood opportunities to returning OFWs, as well as the improved Senior Citizens’ Act and the long overdue amendments to the Quarantine Act. — Alma Anonas

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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