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Marawi recovering but rights abuses lamented

MANILA (UCAN): The physical rehabilitation of Marawi, in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao, the Philippines, has yet to take off two years after the end of a five-month siege in which extremist gunmen, claiming allegiance with the Islamic State, were ousted by government forces. 
 
Marawi was attacked on 23 May 2017. The ensuing battle hammered the city until 23 October 2017 and displaced about half a million people.
 
However, officials said the people are on their way to being well.
 

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Move to strike jail terms for minor crimes lauded

MANILA (UCAN): The Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines welcomed the passage of a bill seeking to reduce prison overcrowding by imposing community service instead of jail terms for minor offenses. 
 
The bill was passed by the Senate on its third and final reading on June 3. 
 
The episcopal commission has for years been advocating the adoption of the measure as part of its campaign for “restorative justice.”
 

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Muslims and Christians build bridges over dinner

MANILA (UCAN): Muslim and Christian groups in Manila held a charity dinner on June 8 to promote peace and fight what they described as anti-Islamic sentiments. The event included a discussion on the security situation in the southern Philippines and “prejudices against Islam” especially in the Mindanao region.
 
Amirah Lidasan, secretary-general of the Moro-Christian People’s Alliance, said the activity was designed to foster unity and encourage inter-faith dialogue.
 

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Caritas Manila welcomes new anti-poverty law

MANILA (CNS): “That’s what good government is all about, taking care of the poor and marginalised,” Father Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, said in reaction to the passage of a law that aims to uplift the lives of poor people and address hunger in the Philippines.
 
The government announced on May 28 that the president, Rodrigo Duterte, had signed Republic Act 11291—dubbed the Magna Carta of the Poor into law, giving those struggling to make a living easier access to government services.

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Concerns over Philippine reinstitution of student military training plan

MANILA (UCAN): On May 20 the Lower House of the Philippine Congress approved a bill making the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programme mandatory for Grade 11 and 12 students.
 
The ROTC programme was made optional in 2002 following the killing of a student, Mark Welson Chua who exposed corruption in the scheme at the University of Santo Tomas.
 
Chua was allegedly killed by his superiors in March 2001 and his death sparked calls for the abolition of ROTC in schools.
 

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Good riddance to bad rubbish

MANILA (UCAN): The 69 containers of trash—tons of garbage that were illegally shipped to the country in 2013, which were the target of several protests by activists and Church groups, were finally shipped back to Canada from the Philippines on May 31.
 
“Today marks a high point in our nation’s history … after nearly six exasperating years of struggles for environmental justice and the rule of law,” the EcoWaste Coalition said in a statement.
 

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Bishop backs Philippine pork import ban

MANILA (UCAN): Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, expressed support for a Philippine government ban on pork from at least 16 countries. He called on migrant workers not to send or bring any canned meat products home amid fears of the threat posed to the country’s pork industry by the spread of African swine fever in several parts of the world.
 

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Confirmed by Peter’s embrace

Pablo Virgilio David
 
I was surprised when the prefect of the Papal Household, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, instructed me to sit right next to the Holy Father, on his left. He was just an arm’s length away. The rest of us were seated in a circle around him. I did not see the logic of the sitting arrangement. No hierarchy. 
 








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Troubled southern Philippine island gets new bishop

MANILA (UCAN): Claretian Father Leo Dalmao was ordained and installed as the fourth bishop of Isabela, the capital of Basilan province in the southern Philippines, known in recent years as a hub of insurgent activity by various Islamic extremist groups, on May 24.
 
The 49-year-old Bishop Dalmao, suceeded Bishop Martin Jumoad who was named bishop of Ozamiz in 2016. He becomes the first Filipino Claretian missionary to join the College of Bishops.
 

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Church groups honour indefatigable champion of the poor

MANILA (UCAN): Sister Crescencia “Cres” Lucero of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, suffered a stroke while attending a meeting on human rights in Jakarta, Indonesia. She underwent an operation for cerebral haemorrhage on May 9, but eventually died on May 15. She was 77-years-old.
 

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