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Senator prepares for the worst

MANILA (UCAN): “I prepared myself already for the worst. I already said goodbye to my family,” Leila de Lima, the former secretary for justice and currently a member of the senate, said at a ceremony to mark World Day Against the Death Penalty in the bishops’ conference chapel in Intramuros, Manila, on October 10.

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A house of cards founded on hallucination

MANILA (SE): As the administration of the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, turns 100-days-old, it remains largely defined by his obsession—a massive onslaught on the poor in the guise of a war on drugs.

Although he has made significant progress with the Mindanao peace talks and in currying favour with China, his most conclusive achievement is inspiring over 4,000 murders of people who may or may not have been involved in drugs—certainly some were not.

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Getting Church out of fossil fuels

MANILA (SE): Father John Leydon, the co-convener of the Global Catholic Climate Movement and its local representative in The Philippines, made an appeal to Church organisations to divest themselves of their investments in the mining and fossil fuel industry.

“These divestments are an important step toward fulfilling the promise and the call of Laudato Si’ (Praise Be: On care for our common home),” Father Leydon said.

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The poor will shape the new Asian Church

FREISING (UCAN): At a gathering in Freising, Germany, in early September, the Vatican secretary of state, Pietro Cardinal Parolin, said that the Lord’s call to bring peace and mercy is urgent and significant in today’s world.

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Learning curve on both sides of the bars

KANDY (SE): Billed as the Mandela Shield, a debate between inmates at the Bogambara-Dumbara Prison in Kandy, Sri Lanka, and the prestigious law faculty of the University of Perandeniya on September 8, saw the prison team show there are talented people behind bars deserving the same respect and dignity as anyone else in society, and the students come away with a deeper understanding of the problems that exist on the other side of the law.

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Rent a Priest picks up the slack

KOCHI (UCAN): Former Catholic priests in the southern Indian state of Kerala have launched a Rent a Priest service which aims at filling the gap for people who do not want to go to their parishes.

People who can’t stand their parish priests can hire a former priest through the service who is listed under an association called Catholic Priests, Ex-Priest and Nuns Association.

Former priests in this association provide sacramental services.

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Gratitude and repentance

ASSISI (SE): The Philippines can give thanks for its religious and cultural diversity, but must also beg forgiveness for its continual reliance on the violence of arms to settle its disputes.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas told the gathering at the Interreligious World Day of Prayer for Peace held in Assisi, Italy, on September 20, that his nation is highly blessed by God with a rich diversity of ethnicity, culture and religion, all contributing to the makeup of what it means to be Filipino.

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Thailand moves to silence reporting

BANGKOK (SE): Amnesty International claims that one more human rights advocate has been unjustly targeted in Thailand. It describes a guilty verdict against Andy Hall, a British migrant rights worker, by a court in Bangkok on September 20 as an appalling trial that should never have happened.

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India shoots to kill at border

DHAKA (UCAN): Despite repeated promises by the government in India not to shoot people wandering into the country from across the border with Bangladesh, some 28 have been shot dead so far this year by the Indian Border Security Force, Ain-O-Salish Kendra, a Dhaka-based rights group, reported on September 28.

Over the last three years the casualties have numbered 26, 33 and 46.

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Shoot the messenger

MANILA (SE): “If Germany had Hitler, The Philippines would have…,” the president of the nation told a crowd in his heartland of Davao City on September 30 as he turned the finger of his hand poignantly towards himself.

Speaking upon his return from a state visit to Vietnam, Duterte sparked an immediate outcry from representatives of survivors’ groups from the Adolf Hitler extermination camps and Jewish groups the world over.

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