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Philippine bishops back call to resume peace talks

MANILA (UCAN): Catholic and Protestant bishops in the Philippines have backed calls from Congress for the government to resume peace negotiations with communist rebels.
 
Prior to Holy Week, 61 members of the Lower House of Congress signed a resolution calling on the president, Rodrigo Duterte, to resume peace talks with the rebel National Democratic Front.
 
The resolution urged the president to complete the government’s comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms with the rebels. 

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Death comes for a child in Philippines’ drug war killings

MANILA (UCAN): On the eve of Passion Sunday, Agripino Martinez went to bed thinking that all his children were already asleep. He did not know that one of his sons went out in the middle of the night.
 
About midnight, Agripino woke up when he heard the repeated knocking on his door. Policemen had shot his 14-year-old son, Sean Christian, he was told.
 
Slowly, very slowly, Agripino drove his old jeep to the scene. While driving, the man’s body was shaking. Another son was crying on the passenger seat.

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Don’t use violence or spill blood but share life say Philippine bishops

MANILA (UCAN): “Today, many follow the ‘kings’ who use violence, arms and intimidation, but are without any understanding and oneness with the weak,” Luis Cardinal Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, said during Passion Sunday celebrations to start Holy Week in the Philippines.
 
In his homily during an early-morning Mass for the blessing of the palms, the cardinal poured scorn on leaders who are “full of cockiness and devoid of humility.”
 

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No Holy Week for Marawi

MANILA (UCAN): There will be no Holy Week observance this year in Marawi, Mindanao, almost a year after Islamic State-inspired gunmen occupied the southern Philippine city on May 23 last year.
 
St. Mary’s Cathedral, which was desecrated and burned at the height of the five-month conflict that ended in October, remains closed.
 
This will be the first time that Holy Week has not been celebrated in the predominantly Muslim city, where more than 300,000 people remain in temporary shelters.
 

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Philippine bishops back migrant rights deal with Kuwait

Manila (UCAN): The Philippine bishops’ Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People is pressing the county’s government to ensure that a deal about to be struck with Kuwait guaranteeing protection for Filipino workers, most of whom are domestic helpers, is adhered to.
 
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, head of the commission, said the government should see to it that the provisions in the proposed deal are implemented.
 

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Philippine senators vow to axe divorce bill

MANILA (UCAN): “In effect it is dead,” Panfilo Lacson, a Philippine senator said, commenting on a bill that would legalise divorce in the predominantly Catholic country.
 
“We are a Catholic country and we are not ready for (divorce),” Lacson said.
 
Several of the country’s senators have vowed to kill the bill, which passed the Lower House of Congress this week. The bill must now go through the Senate before it can be signed into law. 
 

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Fiftieth anniversary of massacre that triggered war in Mindanao

MANILA (UCAN): Filipino advocates marked the 50th anniversary of the 18 March 1968 massacre of Muslim commandos reportedly trained by the government of then-president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, to wreak havoc in Sabah, Malaysia in the 1960s.
 
At a forum in Manila last week, historians and academics called the incident one of the “heinous crimes of the dictatorship” against the Moro people.
 

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Makati parish in hot water for high wedding rates

MANILA (UCAN): A barrage of social media posts has condemned Santuario de San Antonio parish in the exclusive Forbes Park village in the Makati business district, in Metro Manila, for raising its rates for weddings from around $6,000 to $9,800. The new rates were presented at the parish’s first wedding congress on March 15.
 

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Filipino archbishop honoured for environmental advocacy

MANILA (UCAN): Archbishop Sergio Utleg of Tuguegarao, the Philippines, has been given the Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan (hero for the environment) award for his “exemplary deeds and initiatives” to advance environmental protection and his strong advocacy against mining, especially in the northern part of the country.
 
The award is given to those who “serve as an example” in protecting the environment by advocacy groups led by the Centre for Environmental Concerns.
 

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Duterte tries to duck from International Criminal Court

MANILA (Agencies): Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, said that the commitment of the Philippines to human rights in the international community cannot just be set aside by the president alone, CBCPNews reported on March 15.
 
Commenting on the move by the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, to withdraw the country from the International Criminal Court (ICC), the bishop said, “This shows that there is basis for the investigation on him. They are afraid of accountabilities. Duterte should be investigated.”
 

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