Crucifixion fever saves police jobs in Philippines

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The Independent Online

Errant Filipino policemen atoned for their sins yesterday by flagellating themselves and volunteering to be crucified. Nineteen policemen who were facing dismissal or suspension took part in the Lenten Rites, a bloody re-enactment of Jesus Christ's final hours, in order to save their jobs.

Errant Filipino policemen atoned for their sins yesterday by flagellating themselves and volunteering to be crucified. Nineteen policemen who were facing dismissal or suspension took part in the Lenten Rites, a bloody re-enactment of Jesus Christ's final hours, in order to save their jobs.

Wearing crowns of ropes and leaves and struggling under the weight of wooden crosses, they trudged for nearly two miles through San Fernando city, 25 miles north of Manila. Four men volunteered to whip their backs to show repentance, while one police superintendent was strapped to the cross.

Officers who had neglected their duty were told that they could keep their jobs if they took part in the Lenten Rites to show repentance for their sins.

Those absent without leave for a short period or who missed guard duty escaped disciplinary measures by carrying the cross, while those who were absent for 100 days or more had to volunteer for crucifixion.

Chief Superintendent Rowland Albano, who joined his men in the procession, said: "They were happy to be given a chance to redeem themselves. All of us are humans, and we all have shortcomings."

Speaking before a crowd of about 5,000, Ch Supt Albano also urged criminals to repent and mend their ways.

Senior Inspector Joanna Ponseca said: "We want to take this time to forgive those who want to return to the service. This is a second chance ... for them to show they are really sorry."

Dozens of Filipino devotees mark Good Friday by volunteering to be nailed to wooden crosses, in what has become a tourist attraction in Asia's most populous Roman Catholic country. The Lenten ritual is opposed by religious leaders in the Philippines but has persisted.

In San Pedro Cutud village, in Pamanga province, up to 20,000 people, including hundreds of foreign tourists, watched 14 men be crucified on a dusty mound in an open field.

The village leader Zoilo Castro said the gory ritual is "a call for peace and a return to religious values in a time where many wallow in sin".

The devotees had their palms and feet nailed to crosses with four-inch nails, soaked in alcohol to prevent infection. Yesterday marked the 19th crucifixion for 44-year-old Ruben Enaje, who is a commercial signmaker.

In San Simon, 60 miles north of Manila, more than 100 men whipped their backs with bundles of sticks as relatives helped keep the blood flowing with razor blades and water. "This is just a little pain compared to my sins," said Ruben Arriola, a house painter.

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