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Making children scapegoats for criminals

OLONGAPO (SE): Two bills have been filed in the lower house of the Philippine congress by the speaker, Feliciano Belmonte, one proposing a change in the law to make children possibly as young as nine- or 12-years-old criminally responsible and the other to reintroduce the death penalty.

“This is draconian and repressive for children and not worthy of the administration of Rodrigo Duterte or the Philippine people,” social commentator, Father Shay Cullen, told the Sunday Examiner on July 15.

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Bishops’ language doesn’t talk

MANILA (SE): The bishops of The Philippines began their 113th plenary meeting at the Pius XII Centre in Pasay City on July 9 comparing themselves with the biblical voice crying in the wilderness and Archbishop Socrates Villegas lamenting that bishops’ language no longer talks to the people, saying they find it archaic.

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Marcos not even close to being a hero

MANILA (UCAN): The Running Priest was back on the streets of Manila on July 17 calling on the newly-elected president, Rodrigo Duterte, to renege on his plan to allow the martial law dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, to be interred in the nation’s Heroes Cemetery.

Franciscan Father Robert Reyes said Filipinos should rise up, come out and not be afraid to stand for the truth and oppose the plan.

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Drug purge success or sham?

MANILA (SE): “The fight against crime is apparently becoming a looming state-sanctioned cover for a policy of summary executions and extrajudicial killings,” Leila de Lima, a former secretary for justice and currently member of the senate, wrote in filing a resolution on July 13 seeking a congressional investigation into the mass murder of civilians. 

Under the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, around 300 dead bodies have been found strewn around the country since polling day on May 9.

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A nation is mute as door opens to genocide

HONG KONG (SE): “This morning my neighbours were shot. A father and a son. I know they used cocaine, but they were good people and helped me on many occasions. It was brutal and horrible. The shouting and cursing—then the gunshots. They look sickening,” a report from Zamboanga del Sur received on July 12 says.

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The killing fields and traumatised people

MANILA (SE): “Three people died today. They were shot. Brutally killed. We don’t know why. We are scared. It is so dangerous,” a note received on July 6 from Pagadian in Zamboanga del Sur reads.

The note goes on to describe the fear of going to sleep at night, of walking in the street and the memory of the mutilated, defaced and bloodied bodies.

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Labour contracting must go

MANILA (UCAN): As a new broom has come into Malacañang on the promise of defending the rights of the poor of The Philippines, Bishop Broderick Pabillo challenged the labour sector to put in a call for an end to temporary labour contracting, which is seen as being responsible for an up in the poverty level.

“Filipino workers must come together and set aside political ideology to ensure oneness of our voice and stamp out the practice,” the auxiliary bishop of Manila said on July 4.

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Live pyrotechnics display prelude to testy negotiations

HONG KONG (SE): As the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, was talking diplomatically with the leaders of the Chinese government in Beijing, Dai Bingguo, a former state councillor and top diplomat in Washington DC, was talking undiplomatically about a ruling the Permanent Court of Arbitration was about to deliver on territorial rights in the South China Sea.

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Court rules in favour of Philippines

HONG KONG (SE): The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favour of a case filed by The Philippines over territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea on July 12, saying that there is no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within its Nine Dash Line.

The court added that none of the features claimed by China is capable of generating an exclusive economic zone. 

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The revelations of Kew Gardens

I vividly remember my first visit to Kew Gardens in London in the early 1980s. I was on my way to Ireland for a holiday after my first term as a missionary among the T’boli people in the highlands of south-eastern Mindanao in The Philippines.

I had enjoyed my time there learning their language, listening to their music, watching their intricate dances, observing their rituals and celebrations, especially around marriage.