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The hero is the villain

MANILA (SE): “The hero is now the villain,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in lamenting what he termed the new spirit of a now splintered EDSA Remembrance Day.

“History books are rewritten. Historical memory is revised. The hero is the villain. The plunderers are now the heroes,” he said in pointing out that the real spirit of what was a bloodless coup just 31 years ago has evaporated into a relentless killing spree of the poor in the name of change.

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Insidious diluting of the Kill Bill

MANILA (SE): In the face of mounting opposition from both the general public and the senate to a proposal before the congress to reintroduce the death penalty in The Philippines, the list of crimes that could see an offender go to the gallows, the lethal injection room or stand in front of a firing squad has been considerably trimmed from its original 21.

Those that are being kept on the bill are the rarely invoked crimes of treason and plunder, but significantly a wide variety of drug-related offences.

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Manila walks for life

MANILA (SE): Before the sun peeped over the horizon on February 18, waves of white were rolling into the Quirino Grandstand in Manila to join a Walk for Life and send a message to the congress that if Filipinos want their nation to free from violence, no one can be a perpetrator of violence, irrespective of the legal or judicial trappings that may accompany it.

The president of the Council of the Laity, Zenaida Capistrano, told the rally, “Life is just borrowed from God, it must be cared for.”

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Catholic but not Christian?

MANILA (SE): The Philippines is widely hailed as the only Catholic country in Asia, but despite being Catholic, it is struggling to live out its Christian values.

In recent months, Archbishop Socrates Villegas has lamented the silence of his flock in the face of the mass killing of the poor instigated by the president, Rodrigo Duterte, saying that it is the complicity of silence from the pews that has enabled the massacre to prosper.

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Duterte declares peace talks dead in water

MANILA (SE): The much vaunted peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Communist Party are now officially dead in the water.

A signature policy of the president, Rodrigo Duterte, peace talks began with much enthusiasm in Oslo, Norway, last August, but soured significantly before a second round that was held in the same city and finally went nowhere at a meeting in Rome at the end of January.

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Beware martial law

MANILA (SE): “Let us continue to maintain safeguards against dictatorial martial law that our present constitution contains,” the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of The Philippines, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, said at the completion of the bishops’ plenary meeting in January.

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Merciless government can’t beg for mercy

MANILA (SE): A Filipino migrant worker, Jakatia Pawa, was hanged in Kuwait on January 25 after being found guilty of murdering the 22-year-old daughter of her employer.

Pawa had maintained her innocence right through her long ordeal, saying that she had no motive whatsoever for killing the woman.

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Farmworkers trafficked around The Philippines

MANILA (UCAN): The Rural Missionaries of The Philippines reported on January 23 that the southern region of Mindanao has become a hotbed of trafficking in farm labour.

While migrant workers have often been the target of trafficking rings, it seems that staying home is no protection from the lassoes of those that buy and sell people for a living.

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The silence of the people is the big killer

MANILA (SE): The bishops of The Philippines issued their first joint statement condemning the war on the poor being waged by the president, Rodrigo Duterte, at the conclusion of their 112th Plenary Assembly held at Cebu City during January.

In a statement that was read at all Masses across the country on February 5 the bishops say, “This traffic in illegal drugs needs to be stopped and overcome. But the solution does not lie in the killing of suspected drug users and pushers.”

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Is Duterte feeling the heat?

MANILA (SE): “The Catholic Church is full of sh...t,” the president of The Philippines proclaimed in bookending the Congress on Mercy held in Manila from January 16 to 20 with crude attacks on the Church and bishops.

Anticipating that his war on the poor would be attacked during the worldwide congress, Duterte was not disappointed and topped off his crude attack prior to the gathering with an equally crude one at the end.

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