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Sixty minutes for the earth and the spirit

HONG KONG (SE): In a statement made in the run up to Earth Hour, which saw the usually spectacular vista of Victoria Harbour reduced to an odd twinkle of light between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on March 25, Archbishop Socrates Villegas reminded his flock in The Philippines that refraining from robbing the earth of what it cannot regenerate is an act of homage to the creator of all that he had made and seen “was all very good.”

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Rule of fear masquerades as society welfare

MANILA (SE): On 24 June 2006, the day that the Philippine congress removed the death penalty from its law books, the lights of the Colosseum in Rome burned brightly.

The shell is a sacred site in the Eternal City, standing as a reminder of the brutality of a bygone age, when it was an execution ground for the unwanted and a venue for the blood sport of the Roman Empire.

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We’re not hopeless cases

MANILA (SE): The determination of the administration of Rodrigo Duterte to re-imposition the death penalty can mean only one thing, “Filipinos are hopeless cases,” a gathering of young people in Surigao, The Philippines, said on March 22.

“Passing the death penalty is as good as saying that the Filipino people are a hopeless case—that we are not capable of conversion,” the rally, organised by Youth for Christ, acclaimed.

A statement entitled, Life-giving justice not deadly revenge, released by the group challenges the Duterte administration to bring about a positive and influential change in the country.

The group says it is the sworn mandate of the government to improve the quality of life rendering death penalty unnecessary.

“It is… more becoming of a government to help their citizens in their moral transformation rather than putting an end to their life,” the statement says. “Killing a person through capital punishment will take away the opportunity of the person to repent and change.”

Describing the death penalty as a call to revenge and not to justice, the group says, “We want the young people to continue valuing life no matter how deformed and depraved it may be. We want to teach the young people not to (seek) revenge, but to promote transformative justice for everyone,” CBCP News reported.

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A jeepney run on flower power

MANILA (SE): The colourful, iconic trademark of Philippine transport, the humble jeepney could be reaching the end of its long road, as the Department of Transportation and Communications has announced plans to phase it out in favour of a more modern people-mover network.

But apart from easing road congestion, a major attraction for foreign adventurers will be removed, as a ride on a jeepney is a must for having more fun in The Philippines. But labour leaders are pointing to widespread human collateral damage.

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Independence of judiciary goes on trial

MANILA (UCAN): In what is set to become a test of the separation of the powers of the judiciary and the administration, the families of victims of the purge being conducted against the poor of The Philippines in the guise of a war on drugs filed charges in court on March 14 against the police they believe murdered their relatives.

Father Gilbert Billena described their action as a test case that will show whether or not the Philippine judicial system can prove itself as being a reliable place of justice.

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Just one more on someone’s hit list

OZAMIZ CITY (SE): “The wound in the people’s minds is deeper and more painful than the wounds in the body of Sister Kathleen Melia,” Father Sean Martin from Ozamiz City in The Philippines told the Sunday Examiner after the 70-year-old Columban sister was bashed in her home on March 1.

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Voices of hope in a time of darkness

HONG KONG (SE): Women of The Philippines marched through the streets of Hong Kong on March 5 to put their mark on International Women’s Day (March 8) and add their voices to millions around the world in a call for recognition of the dignity of woman that began in the United States of America over a century ago.

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Bishops cop a tough ask

MANILA (SE): The bishops have copped a tough ask from the chief of the Philippine National Police, Ronald dela Rosa, when he called for a little bit of trust from the Church in the national campaign against drugs, which to date has left almost 8,000 dead bodies, mostly of poor people, strewn around the country.

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Congress ducks for cover

MANILA (SE): The infamous Kill Bill, which seeks to reintroduce the death penalty and is currently before the congress in The Philippines was given a second haircut, as the number of crimes that would have qualified in the original bill was shaved from 21 down to three and then to one, when it returned for a second reading on February 28.

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Columban sister bashed in Mindanao

OZAMIZ CITY (SE): Columban Sister Kathleen Melia was assaulted shortly before 9.30pm on March 1 as she was closing the window of her house in Midsalip in the Zamboanga region of Mindanao, The Philippines.

The 70-year-old Irish missionary has lived in Midsalip since 1983, working among the Subaanen tribal people.

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