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Philippine bishops decry China’s ‘continuous bullying’

MANILA (UCAN): “They have no respect for our territory nor respect for Filipino lives,” Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, the Philippines said, following the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat and the abandonment of its crew by a Chinese vessel on June 9. He called the incident a manifestation of China’s lack of respect for Philippine sovereignty.
 
He joined at least two other Catholic bishops in the growing protest in Manila against what they described as China’s “continuous bullying…”
 

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Fighting for breathable air

Mark Saludes
 
Face masks have become part of Grace Francisco’s daily “survival kit.” Without it, her day could either end with anti-allergy medicine or a trip to the nearest hospital.
 
Francisco cannot let pollution in the city trigger the asthma that has worsened since she migrated to Manila from her province to work.
 

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Young Filipino named Servant of God

MANILA (UCAN):  A Filipino teenager, Darwin Ramos, could be on his way to sainthood after the Vatican declared him a Servant of God, the first step in the long process toward canonisation as a saint. The declaration was made by Angelo Cardinal Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, on March 29 but was only made public in Manila, the Philippines, on May 31. Ramos died in 2012 at the age of 17.
 

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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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