The Philippine National Police attended their annual “Blue Mass,” a Holy Mass for workers in the field of public safety and security, at the Manila Cathedral last Sunday, March 7.
When photos of them praying reached social media, some users juxtaposed it to the bloody crackdown on activists which happened on the same day.
In its Facebook post, the Archdiocese of Manila stated this Holy Eucharist celebration is also part of PNP’s pilgrimage for the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines.
Based on the photos, PNP chief Major General Debold Sinas was also among the cops who celebrated the Mass.
“The Philippine National Police headed by PNP Chief Gen. Debold Sinas celebrated the Holy Eucharist at the Cathedral this morning as their pilgrimage for the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines. They expressed their willingness to join the commemoration of this milestone in our faith as a country,” the Archdiocese of Manila’s post read.
Aside from police officers, the Blue Mass was also dedicated to other uniformed personnel such as paramedics and firefighters and paramedics.
While some Filipinos joined in the prayer, some social media users perceived this as “hypocritical.”
— Bryan Gonzales (@brygonzales_ph) March 7, 2021
One Twitter user specified the deaths of nine activists and detention of other during raids that the military and the police conducted that day in the provinces of Laguna, Batangas and Cavite.
“Context: the PNP killed nine people today and planted evidence to arrest others. #BloodySunday,” writer Paul Catiang wrote.
Human rights groups identified that some individuals killed are peasant leaders Manny Asuncion, Chai Lemita-Evangelista and Ariel Evangelista.
These raids were conducted after President Rodrigo Duterte made another “shoot-to-kill” remark at a meeting with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict last Friday, March 5.
“That’s why I told the military and police that during encounters, if the enemy is holding a gun, kill them. Kill them right away,” Duterte said.
“Ignore human rights. That is my order. I’ll be the one to go to jail. No problem,” he added.
Some Twitter users, meanwhile, compared the praying PNP personnel to other alleged crimes rogue police committed during Duterte’s presidency.
“You may wash away the virus, but you can never wash off the blood on your hands,” one Twitter user said.
This place needs a full blast HOLY WATER disinfection. Hindi yan kaya ng ordinary alcohol or gas. Yikes,” another said.
Another user remembered the thousands of Filipinos killed in drug operations.
PNP: Killed thousands of people
Also PNP: Let's go to church and pray 😇🙏 https://t.co/EGLGiCoks3
— 🥀 #LikeWater (@Sexbomb_Jo) March 7, 2021
Facebook page Impact Leadership also posted a graphic where Sinas’ “sins” or his alleged law violations were listed.
Among these are his alleged violations of community quarantine guidelines when he celebrated his birthday party last year and the rise of killings in the province of Negros during his term as chief of police in Central Visayas.
The photos of the Blue Mass also reached Reddit Philippines where users perceived this as a form of propaganda or props ahead of the coming elections.
“Ehem ehem ehem ‘Lights, Camera, Action,’ ‘Puro lang yan photo ops,’ ‘You’re just trying to be relevant ngayong election na’,” one user said.