Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Spratly islands standoff continues
Gunboat faces off against two Chinese vessels near disputed archipelagoA Philippine navy shot of a Chinese ship loaded with corals
- ucanews.com reporters, Manila
- April 11, 2012
â€śIf the Philippines is challenged, we are prepared to secure our sovereignty [over the Spratly Islands]," Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters in a press briefing today after a meeting with the Chinese ambassador to Manila.
He said the meeting with Chinese ambassador Ma Keqing ended without an agreement. "We have reached an impasse in our positions," he said.
After the meeting, the Chinese embassy in Manila issued a statement urging â€śthe Philippine side to stop immediately their illegal activities and leave this area.â€ť
â€śThe Chinese embassy hereby reiterates that Huangyan Island [Scarborough Shoal] is an integral part of the Chinese territory and the waters around it is the traditional fishing area for the Chinese fishermen, for which China has abundant historical and jurisprudence backings,â€ť said the statement.
China also accused the Philippine navy of harassing Chinese fishing vessels that had taken shelter in the islandâ€™s lagoon from harsh weather. It said two Chinese surveillance ships deployed to the area were just â€śfulfilling the duties of safeguarding Chinese Maritime rights and interests.â€ť
Del Rosario, on the other hand, insisted that the disputed area, which is just 124 nautical miles from Zambales province, belongs to the Philippines.
"It is clear that the Scarborough Shoal is an integral part of the Philippines. We have sovereignty and sovereign rights over Scarborough Shoal," he said.
He said a diplomatic protest has been filed regarding the incident.
Also in the press briefing, navy chief, Vice-Admiral Alexander Pama, said the standoff began on Tuesday after the navalÂ ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar was sent to verify a report that eight Chinese fishing vessels were anchored in the lagoon inside the shoal on Sunday.
A team boarded the ships â€śand found large amounts of coral, a sizeable quantity of giant clams and live sharks in the compartments.â€ť
They were about to arrest the fishermen for poaching and illegal fishing when two Chinese surveillance ships appeared and positioned themselves between the navy ship and the fishing vessels, Pama said. The two sides established communication and told each other to leave the area but both sides refused to budge.
â€śThis resulted in a standoff which is still ongoing even as we speak,â€ť he said.