Filipino Christians in Muslim-majority Marawi caught up in Mindanao violence
Clashes between Islamist militants and Philippine soldiers in Marawi City have displaced as much as 90% of the city’s population.
Militants have torched churches and reportedly taken hostages in the fight against the government, the extension of decades of conflict driven by increased Christian settlement in the region, the desire for more political autonomy by Moro (Muslim) liberation groups, and the rise of international terrorist organizations like the Islamic State.
While the Philippine population as a whole is 90% Christian, Muslims comprise the majority of the population in Marawi City, located on the Philippines’ second-largest island, Mindanao.
The Philippine Congress recently confirmed Rodrigo Duterte as the 16th president of the Philippines, ushering in a new government fueled by populist disaffection and characterized by uncertainty. A lightning rod of controversy, the tough-talking former mayor of Davao City in the south of the country has supported vigilante justice in crime-riddled cities (including against those suffering from addiction), the reinstatement of capital punishment, and paternalistic policies on smoking, alcohol consumption, and youth curfews. His unfiltered style has been likened to U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for both his casual misogyny and penchant for offensive jokes.
But Duterte, the Philippines’ oldest president, has also expressed support for minority representation and protections, backed by a record of gender and minority inclusiveness during his time as mayor. His election has already been celebrated for breaking political regionalism in the country: Duterte has become the first president from the historically marginalized island of Mindanao. Now having to scale his leadership from the local to the national level, he inherits a range of difficult issues impacting historically disadvantaged communities, including land and environmental rights for indigenous peoples, reproductive healthcare for women, and political autonomy for Muslim groups in the south.
With international observers and diplomats concerned by Duterte’s unpredictability, his record with and plans for vulnerable communities have been scrutinized as political analysts attempt to predict what the next era of Philippine politics will look like under his leadership. Here is an overview of recent local and international commentary on the impact of Duterte’s election:
One of the few truly global holidays, International Workers’ Day (May Day) is both a worldwide celebration of the working classes as well as a day to draw attention to ongoing insecurities workers around the world face. May Day has historically had a twofold purpose: a day for workers to voice their concerns over contentious labor policies and for governments to reaffirm their commitments to workers’ rights and just labor practices. At times little more than public relations campaigns and at others violent clashes between governments and workers, global May Day events have highlighted the diverse relationships between labor, employers, and government around the world. Here are the highlights of May Day 2016 in more than 30 countries:
Bike rallies were held in Pune as Indian PM Narendra Modi saluted workers on Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas, a public holiday. Pakistan‘s major labor unions convened in Lahore to speak out against poor working conditions, violations of international labor conventions, and ongoing privatization in the country. As Bangladeshi officials addressed labor relations and welfare reforms amidst a day of union-organized programming, in Kathmandu, Nepali workers marched while awaiting the ratification of the Labour Act, which guarantees greater social security for workers. Across the Indian Ocean, Australian union leader singled out penalty rate protection and tax reform as major Labour Day issues, with the date of the holiday having been a point of contention as well.
In cities across France, tens of thousands marched in protest against proposed labor reforms that would loosen the country’s controversial employment and job security policies. Jeremy Corbyn became the first U.K. Labour party leader to attend a May Day rally in a half-century when he spoke to a crowd of thousands in London, reaffirming solidarity against anti-immigrant sentiment and addressing anti-Semitism accusations that have plagued his party recently. Spain saw thousands across its cities gather, many protesting ongoing austerity measures. An estimated 800,000 gathered in Rome‘s San Giovanni Square, with this year’s event dedicated to slain Italian student Giulio Regeni.
Some 2,000 convened in rain-soaked Zagreb to hear labor leaders protest the increased retirement age and ongoing poverty in Croatia. Moscow hosted a mass demonstration in the city’s Red Square estimated in size from the tens of thousands to 100,000, while thousands gathered in Istanbul’s Bakirköy district under a heavy police presence in the wake of urban suicide attacks and ongoing violence across Turkey.
From New York to Los Angeles, demonstrations in the U.S. highlighted widening economic inequality in the country and an election season marred by racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic sentiment. While most protests took place without incident, a peaceful march turned violent in Seattle, leading to five injured officers and nine arrests. A similar outbreak in Montreal led to one injury and 10 arrests.
In Latin America, Brazil‘s embattled president and Workers’ Party leader Dilma Roussef rallied alongside hundreds of thousands across the country as her impeachment proceedings continue and workers fear the inauguration of her center-right vice president. Cuba‘s May Day parade continued the national tradition of expressing support for the Castro regime rather than directly celebrating labor or expressing concerns over labor conditions. In Argentina, President Mauricio Macro backed employers and touted labor proposals that had spurred mass demonstrations only days before. Elsewhere in the region, minimum wage increases were announced in Venezuela and Bolivia and a march took place in Santiago as Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced a review of her labor reforms after the Supreme Court rejected a key provision granting exclusive negotiating rights to unions.
Middle East & Africa
Police in Egyptblocked hundreds of workers from assembling in a Cairo office as labor leaders and international organizations called for the government to decriminalize independent union organization. In Israel, more than 5,000 youth marched in Tel Aviv, while a Palestinian trade union renewed its call for the establishment of a minimum wage and the dismantlement of the Gaza blockade. A government-sponsored event in Dubai reportedly drew nearly 200 workers, though labor practices in the UAE continue to draw international scrutiny.
South of the Sahara, events popped up across South Africa as politicians sought to address the country’s high unemployment rate and appeal to workers ahead of August elections. In Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari spoke to thousands of workers in Abuja, touting his anti-corruption campaign. A Mozambique labor leader addressed a crowd in Maputo about the debts of state-owned companies and the need for wage and workplace reform. As the decline of oil prices has created economic hardship throughout Angola, the country’s two labor unions marched to draw attention to deteriorating worker conditions and the need for infrastructure maintenance. Workers in Ghana protested the privatization of the management of the state-owned Electric Company of Ghana, while the government insisted the company was still run by the state. Meanwhile, Ethiopia sidestepped Sunday commemorations altogether by moving May Day to May 3, when labor leaders plan to highlight ongoing struggles to organize Ethiopian workers.
The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) offers sanctuary to Manila’s downtrodden in the red-light district of Cubao.
While other religious proscriptions like divorce and abortion are legally enforced, the Catholic-majority Philippines has seen a gradual increase in the social visibility and acceptance of its gay population.
The Manila church is one of five operated in the Philippines by the MCC, a network of churches founded in the U.S. under the mission of social justice and inclusion.
“I don’t have illusions of assimilation into the mainline Catholic Church. They will always resist anything that disrupts their order. … We have a long way to go… but we must never lose hope, fighting for what is right and what is ours.”
Two thousand migrants found abandoned by traffickers in Indonesia and Malaysia, the difficulties of Indonesia’s religious minorities, music and cultural history for Japan’s Okinawans, recognizing the choice of childlessness for women, a rainbow crosswalk in Chile, and more in today’s news rounds…Continue reading The Monday Rounds→