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Church leaders in the Philippines welcome rebooting of peace talks

MANILA (UCAN): The president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, said at the beginning of April that he was giving the government and rebel peace panels “a timeline of two months” to resume the talks that bogged down last year.
 
He claimed that it was the rebel National Democratic Front of the Philippines that had been pressing for the resumption of negotiations.
 
Talks broke down in November after Duterte accused the rebels of attacking government installations especially in the provinces.
 

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Relic of Pope John Paul II arrives in Manila

MANILA (UCAN): “Let those who have special intentions and petitions come in veneration and prayer,” read a statement from Manila Cathedral as the Archdiocese of Manila became custodian of a precious relic of Pope St. John Paul II—a vial of his blood, as of April 7.
 
A Filipino nun based in Poland brought the relic to Manila on 11 December 2017. It is the first ever blood relic of a saint still in liquid form in the Philippines.
 

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Philippine Church groups launch network for poor

MANILA (UCAN): Catholic and Protestant Church groups in the Philippines launched the Anawim Mission Network, which aims to promote political consciousness among the poor, on April 6.
 
The network is the a result of a gathering of Church groups to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
 
“We saw the need to transform the unity and harmony developed among Christian Churches into a mission for the poor,” said Carmelite Father Rico Ponce of the Institute of Spirituality in Asia.
 

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Philippine bishops welcome resignation of justice secretary

MANILA (UCAN): “He was a secretary of injustice,” Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said, in the wake of the resignation of Vitaliano Aguirre II, the justice secretary of the Philippines, which was announced by the president, Rodrigo Duterte, on April 5, amid questions over his job performance.
 
Bishop Bastes said he was “happy Aguirre decided to resign” because he “was not doing his job well as a secretary of justice.”
 

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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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