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Heritage churches closed following Philippine earthquake

MANILA (UCAN): Several old churches in the province of Pampanga have been closed after a 6.1-magnitude earthquake shook the island of Luzon, the Philippines, on April 22.
 
At least 11 people have been reported killed while 24 others were missing, most of whom were residents of the town of Porac.
 
The Archdiocesan Committee on Church Heritage in San Fernando, about 80 kilometres north of the capital, Manila, announced that all heritage churches were closed to the public.
 

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Philippine Catholic groups castigate review by Canadian agency

MONTREAL (CNS): In an April 3 letter sent by email to Bishop Lionel Gendron, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), and Evelyne Beaudoin, president of the national council for Development and Peace (D&P), the Caritas affiliate, prominent leaders of the Catholic Church in the Philippines and civil organizations criticised a moratorium on at least four Philippine associations suspected of “violating the social teachings of the Church.”
 

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Filipinos in Libya urged to return home

MANILA (UCAN): Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, the head of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, appealed to Filipinos in Libya to return home as fears of renewed civil war intensify.
 
The bishop said the situation in Libya is “uncertain, volatile and unstable” and the safety of Filipino migrants there “is not secure.”
 

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Relic of St. John Paul II draws young Filipinos

TACLOBAN (UCAN): A blood relic of the Pope St. John Paul II, has been attracting young people in the Archdiocese of Palo, Letye, the Philippines.
 
The relic has been touring the country as part of preparations for the 500th anniversary celebration of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021.
 
“It’s a heartwarming experience seeing the relic for the first time,” said Abbie Montablan, a 21-year-old seminarian in the provincial capital of Tacloban.
 

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Ateneo de Manila red-faced over Marcos invite

MANILA (UCAN): Jesuit Father Jose Ramon Villarin, president of Ateneo de Manila University, issued a public apology for what he described as the “hurt” the presence of Irene Marcos-Araneta at the launch of an art installation at the university on April 4 brought to victims of human rights abuses committed during the rule of her father the late president and dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.
 

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Duterte threatens to arrest all his critics

MANILA (UCAN): “I will arrest all of you. I will put you together with the criminals, rebels, and drug lords,” Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte ranted at a gathering of prosecutors on April 4.
 
“If you make it hard for me, I will declare a revolutionary war until the end of my term,” said Duterte, adding that he was willing to be hanged. “I’m willing to die,” he said.
 

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Top Philippine court orders release of drug war death files

MANILA (UCAN): On April 2 the Philippine Supreme Court ordered the Office of the Solicitor-General to provide police reports to two human rights groups seeking the release of documents related to the killings of thousands of suspected drug users and dealers over the past three years.
 
The Free Legal Assistance Group and the Centre for International Law, which had requested the documentation on cases they were handling, welcomed the court order.
 

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Diocese bemoans election cacophony

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (UCAN): The Diocese of Marbel, in Mindanao, the Phlippines called for election candidates to stop or turn down their “ear-splitting” campaign jingles in the run-up to national and local mid-term elections on May 13.
 
Father Ariel Destora, director of the diocesan Social Action Centre, slammed the noise pollution caused by sound systems — mostly blaring from vehicles — used by candidates. The din has been bad enough to disrupt the celebration of the Mass.
 

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Church charity steps in to aid disaster-hit Filipino farmers

Carigara (UCAN): It took some time for Rosenda Apay, a 59-year-old farmer, to realise that she was finally tilling her own farm. It took more than 16 years of lobbying and asserting her rights to have land.
 
Today, Apay and 21 other farmers, affected by the disaster wrought by Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, are tilling a 25-hectare (.25 square kilometres) communal farm in the central Philippines.
 
They said their perseverance paid off as they admitted that many of their fellow farmers “have given up the fight.”

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Pope names two new bishops for dioceses in southern Philippines

MANILA (UCAN): Pope Francis named Father Cosme Almedilla and Claretian Father Leo Dalmao as the new bishops for Butuan, Agusan del Norte province, and Isabela, Basilan province, in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao.
 
Father Almedilla, who comes from the Diocese of Talibon in Bohol province, will succeed Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos who died in October 2017. Father Dalmao, who also comes from Bohol, will take over from Bishop Martin Jumoad who was named bishop of Ozamiz in 2016.
 

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