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Philippine senators vow to axe divorce bill

MANILA (UCAN): “In effect it is dead,” Panfilo Lacson, a Philippine senator said, commenting on a bill that would legalise divorce in the predominantly Catholic country.
 
“We are a Catholic country and we are not ready for (divorce),” Lacson said.
 
Several of the country’s senators have vowed to kill the bill, which passed the Lower House of Congress this week. The bill must now go through the Senate before it can be signed into law. 
 

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Fiftieth anniversary of massacre that triggered war in Mindanao

MANILA (UCAN): Filipino advocates marked the 50th anniversary of the 18 March 1968 massacre of Muslim commandos reportedly trained by the government of then-president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, to wreak havoc in Sabah, Malaysia in the 1960s.
 
At a forum in Manila last week, historians and academics called the incident one of the “heinous crimes of the dictatorship” against the Moro people.
 

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Makati parish in hot water for high wedding rates

MANILA (UCAN): A barrage of social media posts has condemned Santuario de San Antonio parish in the exclusive Forbes Park village in the Makati business district, in Metro Manila, for raising its rates for weddings from around $6,000 to $9,800. The new rates were presented at the parish’s first wedding congress on March 15.
 

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Filipino archbishop honoured for environmental advocacy

MANILA (UCAN): Archbishop Sergio Utleg of Tuguegarao, the Philippines, has been given the Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan (hero for the environment) award for his “exemplary deeds and initiatives” to advance environmental protection and his strong advocacy against mining, especially in the northern part of the country.
 
The award is given to those who “serve as an example” in protecting the environment by advocacy groups led by the Centre for Environmental Concerns.
 

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Duterte tries to duck from International Criminal Court

MANILA (Agencies): Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, said that the commitment of the Philippines to human rights in the international community cannot just be set aside by the president alone, CBCPNews reported on March 15.
 
Commenting on the move by the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, to withdraw the country from the International Criminal Court (ICC), the bishop said, “This shows that there is basis for the investigation on him. They are afraid of accountabilities. Duterte should be investigated.”
 

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Philippine priests advised to undergo lifestyle check

Manila (UCAN): Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, the Philippines, head of the Episcopal Commission on Seminaries, prelate told a gathering of more than a hundred priests in early March that priests need to undergo a lifestyle check to see if they are living their mission as followers of Christ.
 
The bishop suggested that even their choice of gadgets should be scrutinised. “Are we satisfied with a workable phone or should I have the latest Blackberry or iPhone?” he wondered.
 

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Protests highlight Women’s Day in the Philippines

MANILA (UCAN): Women advocates dressed in pink and purple shirts hit the streets of Philippine cities to join protest rallies marking International Women’s Day on March 8.
 
They sang, danced, and chanted slogans as they marched to demand justice for victims of killings, housing for the poor, equal rights, among other issues.
 
The protesters demanded justice and accountability for what they described as the slaughter of women under the 21-month-old administration of the president, Rodrigo Duterte.
 

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Move to impeach Philippine chief justice a politcal expedience

MANILA (UCAN): “This is very sad,” said Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, the Philippines, when a congressional committee voted to impeach the country’s Maria Lourdes Sereno, the country’s first female chief justice, who is also an outspoken critic of the president, Rodrigo Duterte.
 
“Filipinos are no fools. We know what is right and what is false,” the bishop said.
 

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Philippines on alert for Holy Week terror attacks

MANILA (UCAN): Philippine authorities have warned of possible terrorist attacks following reports of a new leader, Abu Dar, taking the reins of the so-called Islamic State group in the region.
 
Security officials said the new leader of the terrorist group in Southeast Asia, has the capability, resources and connections to carry out attacks.
 
Philippine military spokesperson, Brigadier General Bienvenido Datuin, said authorities are closely monitoring Manila to ensure that terrorism does not strike there.

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Church groups condemn arrest of young advocates for the poor

COTABATO (UCAN): The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines condemned the arrest on March 2 of 21-year-old Myles Albasin, 21, accused of being a communist rebel fighter with the New People’s Army by the military.
 
“We are aggrieved that the response of the state, and the people quick to judge her actions, had been to accuse her of being a terrorist,” said Ailene Villarosa, coordinator of the Rural Missionaries.
 

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