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CBCP refutes reports saying they condemn Maute, Hapilon deaths

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denied circulating reports saying that bishops condemned the killing of Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, leaders of the Islamic State-linked Maute group.

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A screenshot of a satire article from blog site OKD2.com, published yesterday, Oct. 16, Monday.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denied circulating reports saying that bishops condemned the killing of Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, leaders of the Islamic State-linked Maute group.

In a statement released earlier today, Tuesday, Oct. 17, CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas, said that the CBCP is “Once more, […] a hapless victim of fake news.”

“The CBCP never made such a statement,” Villegas said.

Several pro-Duterte Facebook pages and blog sites ran similar reports following the deaths of Maute and Hapilon in battle with military troops yesterday, Oct. 16.

A particular post from the Facebook page “Rodrigo Duterte Supporters”claimed of a particular pastoral meeting where Villegas supposedly said that “the photos of the killed leaders should not have been shown to public.”

The post has since reached more than 34,000 reactions and 31,000 shares as of press time after it was published 12:15 p.m. earlier today.

Word-for-word content of the post can also be read in a “humor and satire” article from blog site OKD2.com, which was published yesterday.

“On the contrary we laud the gallantry of our soldiers and the heroic efforts to free Marawi,” Villegas said further in the statement.

He also stated that the CBCP “will gladly join government in rebuilding the city in the measure we are able.”

The Duterte administration has been repeatedly accused of supporting propaganda pages and their proliferation of “fake news”, particularly in the appointment of the personnel behind them to key government positions.

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Para sa malaya at mapagpalayang pamamahayag. Executive Editor, TomasinoWeb.

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Thomasians urged to end apathy on persecution of Christians

According to a study by Center for New Religions, over 90,000 Christians were murdered in 2016.

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In line with the global campaign, several buildings and places in the campus were lit up in red lights. Photo by Mark Darius Sulit/TomasinoWeb.

A director of a pontifical foundation encouraged Thomasians to be more sensitive to the persecution of Christians in different parts of the world as the University celebrated “Red Wednesday.”

Jonathan Luciano, national director of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), said in a forum last Nov. 22 that people who are apathetic to their fellow persecuted Christians were contributing to their suffering.

“Through this Red Wednesday campaign, we would not only like to be in solidarity with Christians who were persecuted, but we also would like this opportunity to look into ourselves. We’re also somehow part of the persecution because of our indifference…That is not the attitude of a Christian,” Luciano said.

Red Wednesday is ACN’s global public awareness campaign which started last year in the United Kingdom. It aims to inform Christian communities and the general public that Christians are being persecuted around the world.

According to a study by Center for New Religions, over 90,000 Christians were murdered in 2016.

Luciano also reminded the students to support and help them through prayer, information dissemination and concrete action.

“It is our duty now to keep the world informed and with this information, comes awareness. When awareness comes, then we can do something about it,” he told student reporters on the sideline.

A mass at the Santissimo Rosario Chapel followed the forum which was presided by Asst. to the Vice-Rector Rev. Fr. Roberto Luanzon O.P.

“We are one with them [persecuted Christians] by celebrating this solidarity with them. Even though we don’t experience what they experience of being persecuted… is for us to continue to manifest and show our faith, our love to God in everything that we do,” he reminded the Thomasian community.

Vice-Rector for Religious Affairs Rev. Fr. Pablo Tiong O.P. led the candle lighting ceremony for Christian martyrs.

In line with the campaign, the Thomasian community were also encouraged to wear red and several buildings and places in the campus were lit up with red light at night. — B. Laforga

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CBCP calls for end to extrajudicial killings in ‘Lord, Heal Our Land’ Sunday

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Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines President Archbishop Socrates Villegas celebrates the mass at the EDSA Shrine, Nov. 5, for the “Lord, Heal Our Land” Sunday. Photo grabbed from Sen. Bam Aquino’s Facebook page.

The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called on the laity to pray for the ‘healing’ of the country amidst rampant extrajudicial killings (EJK) and violence committed in the name of the President Rodrigo Duterte’s vicious anti-drug campaign.

In a mass celebrated at the EDSA Shrine for the “Lord, Heal Our Land” Sunday earlier this afternoon, Nov. 5, outgoing CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas warned of punishment if the killings do not end.

“Kapag hindi natin itinigil ang patayan, may sumpang parusa ang bayang pumapatay sa sariling kababayan,” Villegas said.

The Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop addressed various sectors during his homily. Villegas first slammed his fellow priests and church leaders “for keeping quiet when we should speak and blabbering when what is needed is silence” as he asked for God’s forgiveness on their behalf.

He then urged politicians to turn away from “destructive politics” and party loyalty.

“Let the institutions of democracy be revered and safeguarded. Let dialogue prevail over the many reasons for division,” Villegas said, adding “Walang gobyernong forever. Walang politikong forever. God lang ang forever.”

Likewise, the CBCP president called for the military and police to “stop the violence and uphold the law,” reminding them that “power belongs to the people, not to the weapon holder.”

Nonetheless, Villegas also urged drug users as well as the laity to repent and change their ways.

“Magbagong buhay na tayo, kasama ako. Bumalik tayo sa Panginoon. Naghihintay ang Diyos. Ang Simbahan ay handang umalalay sa inyo.”

After the mass, Villegas led families of EJK victims and various religious and political groups in a candle-lit procession with the image of Our Lady of Fatima from the EDSA Shrine to the People Power Monument, where opposition group Tindig Pilipinas held a cultural program.

No rallies, just prayer

Villegas made it clear in a Facebook video posted last Thursday, Nov. 2, that the activity will not be a political rally.

“The Nov. 5 activity has no colors […] We won’t be there to shout and hold a rally. We will pray and whisper to Jesus’ heart to ask for forgiveness,” the CBCP president said.

There were no political speeches during the program. Nonetheless, various political groups and figures have expressed their support for the activity.

Opposition senators Risa Hontiveros, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Benigno Aquino IV, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, former Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Loretta Rosales, and Vice President Leni Robredo attended the event.

Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) Convenor Teodoro Casiño and fellow former Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares also joined the mass and procession.

MAT said in a statement released Nov. 3, Friday, that they hope the activity “will contribute to our people’s growing clamor to end the extrajudicial killings and increasing tyranny of the Duterte administration.”

Likewise, the Liberal Party expressed support for the Church’s initiative as they urged the public to “stand together, set aside our differences, and affirm the importance of life and human rights.”

Meanwhile, acting Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said, in a statement, that the Palace is “one in the true healing” of the nation.

“We wish to build better rapport with the Catholic Church […] to pro-actively help government in our anti-illegal drug campaign, particularly in the rehabilitation and treatment of drug dependents,” the statement further read.

Tindig Pilipinas claims around 20,000 individuals joined the event, while police estimate the numbers to be only around 5,000.

“Lord, Heal Our Land” Sunday marks the end of the Church’s 40-day mourning period for EJK victims, where churches tolled their bells every 8 p.m. from Sept. 23 to Nov. 1.

This afternoon’s mass and procession starts a 33-day “period of healing” which will culminate in the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8.

by Philip Jamilla

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Cops confess participation in EJKs, seek Church protection

Police officials allegedly involved in extrajudicial killings under the government’s anti-drug campaign have sought the protection of the Catholic Church, said outgoing Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines President Socrates Villegas on Monday, Oct. 2.

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Photo courtesy of Noli Yamsuan/Archdiocese of Manila.

Police officials involved in the extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody campaign against drugs have sought the protection of the Catholic Church, said outgoing Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines President Socrates Villegas on Monday, Oct. 2.

“They have expressed their desire to come out in the open about their participation in extrajudicial killings and summary executions. Their consciences are troubling them,” Villegas said in a statement.

The Lingayen-Dagupan prelate pointed out that the whistleblowers, whom he did not name, have approached him and other priests to “seek sanctuary, succor and protection.”

Villegas, moreover, affirmed the safety of the witnesses if they desire to stay with the Church.

“If their preference is to stay with us in the Church, they will not be turned over to the State under its own witness-protection program,” he said.

Villegas also stated that the Church is willing to provide refuge for the policemen and their families when their stories are proven accurate.

“We will look prudently into the sincerity of their motives and the veracity of their stories. Within the bounds of Church and civil laws, we express our willingness to grant them accommodation, shelter and protection (including their families if necessary). The hospitality, comfort and acceptance that they seek from the Church will be attended to,” he assured.

He added, “We are likewise putting our Ministry of Mercy at the service of these law enforcers who need the hospitality of the Church.”

Villegas urged the priests in Lingayen to secure the safety of these police officers as the clerics “open their hearts and their rectories, the convents of religious communities and seminaries as well as other secure buildings.”

The Church will not force the witnesses to testify, but when they decide to reveal themselves, “every means must be provided for a fair, accurate and unconstrained or unrestrained testimony that may be used in evidence,” the statement read.

The testimonies of the law enforcers will be recorded in the form of affidavits and depositions, with the assistance of a competent independent counsel, said Villegas.

According to data from the Philippine National Police as of July this year, 3,451 suspected drug personalities had been killed in legitimate operations. However, there is no official record yet on drug-related vigilante killings.

In a report by human rights group Amnesty International, the group claimed that some police officers are paid to kill alleged drug offenders.

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