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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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Appeals to stop posting disinformation about Marawi

MANILA and COTABATO (UCAN): A group of Muslim leaders from the war-torn city of Marawi in Mindanao, the Philippines, have appealed to Filipinos to stop posting disinformation on social media that might spark discord.
 
Social media posts in recent weeks have claimed that Marawi’s Catholic cathedral would be the first structure to be rebuilt in the city which was reduced to rubble after a five-month conflict last year.
 

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Philippines struggles against human trafficking

MANILA (UCAN): Michelle thought her prayers had been answered when she finally left her home in the Philippines for Saudi Arabia last year to work as a domestic helper. She thought the employment contract she had signed was her ticket out of poverty.
 
Sadly, she was gravely mistaken. In fact, she had joined a throng of her compatriots who have become inadvertent victims of human trafficking.
 

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Thousands walk for life

MANILA (UCAN):  People turned out in their thousands as they came out strongly against what they described as threats to life in rallies held in major cities across the Philippines on February 24. 
 
Among the issues raised were drug-related killings, a proposal in Congress to legalise divorce and changes to the constitution.
 
In Manila, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle led priests, religious, and lay people in an early morning Walk for Life around the capital’s Rizal Park.
 

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Rights group warns Philippines on Kuwait ban

MANILA (UCAN): The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a February 21 report, that it would be better for Kuwait and the Philippines to agree on key reforms that could protect migrant workers, suggesting that the ban on the deployment of Filipinos to the Gulf state will only put more workers at risk.
 
Rothna Begum, a women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the two governments should work together to protect workers “rather than ban them from migrating.”
 

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New Philippine tax law triggers protest

Manila (UCAN): Church and consumer rights groups in the Philippines have launched a campaign demanding the repeal of the new Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, which went into effect in January, which they claim burdens the poor.
 
Reverend Jerome Baris, national coordinator of the justice, peace, and human rights ministry of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, said, taxation “should not target the poor.”
 

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Intimidation and killing will not stop drug problem bishop says

Manila (UCAN): Speaking during a 25th anniversary Mass for the group, Singles for Christ, on February 18, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, of Kalookan, the Philippines, lamented that many people agree that drug “addicts are not human.”
 
He told the gathering of around 7,000 young people, “My heart bleeds when there are Catholics who agree that criminals cannot be reformed, that they deserve to die and be exterminated if we are to have a peaceful Philippine society.” 
 

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Create jobs so Filipinos don’t have to work abroad bishop says

MANILA (UCAN): As many as 250,000 Filipinos will be affected by a total ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait, according to a Philippine government estimate.
 
The ban, ordered by the president, Rodrigo Duterte, came following the discovery of the body of 29-year-old Joanna Daniella Demafelis in a freezer in an apartment in Kuwait. Her remains had reportedly been stored there for a year and authorities said marks on her body indicated she was strangled.
 

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