BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance reviving and institutionalizing the time-honored tradition of the 6 o’clock evening prayer for all faiths and religions in the city and for other purposes.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Edgar M. Avila stated that the local government recognizes Article III, Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution which provides that the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed.
Under the proposed ordinance, at 6 o’clock in the evening, as the siren from the city hall sounds, everyone in the streets of the city are enjoined to pause and pray silently to God, Allah or supreme being.
Further, the ordinance added that all traffic in the city must come to a halt at 6 o’clock in the evening resuming a minute thereafter, except for emergency vehicles of the police, ambulances or fire trucks performing emergency response.
The ordinance stipulated that for old Baguio residents who grew up in the city, one of the most memorable traditions defining the city as a Character City was the 6 o’clock habit piously called the “angelus,”
When the siren sounds, everyone would stand still whispering a prayer for a minute as the various speakers erected in different parts of the city play the “angelus.”
“We intend to bring back the tradition though times however change. The tradition of sunset prayer may be part of Filipinos’ culture, but it is not a tradition of all Filipinos and culture changes, it does not remain static, it is constantly made and re-made and influenced by time, people, technology and a host of other factors,” Avila stressed.
He pointed out that as sensitive and mindful leaders should take into account the welfare of their constituents, not just a particular sect, to prevent misconceptions that local leaders are favouring certain religious denominations in their legislations.
According to the proponent, the siren still sounds at 6 o’clock every evening but local leaders now ask for a pause for all, Catholic, Muslim, Christians to pray and applying the siren and the pause for all enhances the provisions of Article III, Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution which provides that the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed.
The ordinance stated that all religions and sects known and appreciate the value of prayer be it directed to God or Allah and all other supreme beings that each and everyone have faith on and these are values that people cherish for themselves that the local leaders intend to pass to the younger generations.
Previous legislations relative to the said matter were not approved considering that the proposal is allegedly not suitable for other religions and sects in the city, thus, the need for the proposed legislation to undergo the needed study by the concerned committee before its approval on second and third readings in the future. /By Dexter A. See