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Bishop demands probe into killing of Philippine farmers

MANILA (UCAN): “We demand a quick investigation into this and appeal to the authorities to restore peace and order,” Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, Negros Oriental, the Philippines, said as he demanded an investigation into the killings of 14 farmers, one of whom was reportedly a Church worker, during three police operations in the central Philippine province on March 30.
 
The bishop said that the victims lived in one of diocese’s mission stations on the outskirts of the city of Canlaon where eight men were killed.

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Complaint filed against Xi Jinping for crimes against humanity

MANILA (UCAN): Former Philippine Foreign Affairs secretary, Albert del Rosario, and former Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio-Morales, along with a group of Filipino fishermen, filed a complaint—formally called a communication—before the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Chinese President Xi Jinping for alleged “crimes against humanity” on March 15.
 
They accused Xi and Chinese officials of causing environmental damage in the South China Sea.
 

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Filipino sex abuse victims to sue Church in United States

TACLOBAN (UCAN): McDonald Worley, a lawyer from Texas, the United States (US), said that testimonies and evidence are being gathered for the filing of a civil suit against Father Kenneth Hendricks and a “Catholic church in Ohio” for damages.
 
Worley, is representing a group of children from the central Philippines who allege that Father Hendricks, who is now under arrest, sexually abused them.
 

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Philippine Church leaders move to end charging fees

MANILA (UCAN): More Philippine bishops are taking steps to remove fees for sacraments and other services. The latest to make the move is Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, who issued a circular on March 12 ordering the removal of fees for funeral Masses and blessings in his diocese. Priests were told not to charge fees for Masses even in private memorial chapels.
 
“Financial obligations from the perspective of the Church are not of prime importance and must not be a burden,” the bishop explained.
 

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Manila prays for rain

MANILA (UCAN): “We ask the Lord to hasten to send the rain we badly need ... so that damage to crops and other livelihoods and an impending water shortage may be averted,” Luis Cardinal Tagle of Manila, said as he called on people to pray for rain as about 6.8 million people in the Philippine capital and nearby areas began to feel the effects of a water shortage in mid-March.
 

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Mindanao faith groups seek to tackle emerging crises

DAVAO CITY (UCAN): Faith groups in the southern Philippines met on March 12 to coordinate efforts to address what they described as emerging humanitarian issues in Mindanao.
 
The gathering, called the FBO Forum, identified a “rise in violent extremism,” that needed a “coordinated response” from various Church organisations.
 
The groups also stressed the need to address “environmental concerns” affecting farming and tribal communities.  
 

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International law groups decry killings of Philippine lawyers

MANILA (UCAN): At a colloquium held in Manila, the Philippines, in mid-March, law groups from the United States of America and several European and Asian countries decried a reported rise in the number of attacks on lawyers and judges in the country in recent years in a report on the killings of legal profession members.
 
The Philippine Judges’ Association reported that at least 29 judges have been killed in the past 30 years.
 

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Take death threats seriously Philippine priests told

MANILA (UCAN): “I became a target of an assassination attempt by a death squad,” said Redemptorist Father Amado Picardal, who said he was fortunate because he received advance information about the plot. He said that his life has been in danger since he criticised killings linked to the deadly war on drugs of the administration of president, Rodrigo Duterte.
 
The priest, who relocated in fear for his life, warned fellow priests to take threats seriously but not to be cowed from speaking the truth.
 

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Anti-coal power campaign in central Philippines

MANILA (UCAN): Bishop Gerry Alminaza of San Carlos, Negros Occidental, the central Philippines, has expressed support for a campaign against the building of a coal-fired power plant in the province. He said local Church leaders are giving their full backing for the move, initiated by the Youth for Climate Hope group.
 
“As our youth said, we will stand against this because this is about our future,” the bishop said on Ash Wednesday.
 

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Thousands flee fighting in southern Philippines

COTABATO CITY (UCAN): An estimated 16,000 people fled their homes following armed clashes between government troops and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, supporters of the Islamic State, in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao.
 
Military aircraft began pounding a suspected hideout of in the town of Shariff Saydona Mustapha on March 11.
 
“(The clashes) started with a bomb run,” commander of the army’s 6th Infantry Division, Major General Cirilito Sobejana, said. 
 

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