Since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016, much of the world’s attention towards the Philippines has been on Duterte’s take-no-prisoners war on drugs, which has resulted in thousands of deaths. The campaign has overshadowed the country’s long-standing struggle with the Islamist-led independence movement on the southern island of Mindanao, where the Islamic State group wants to create a “province” of its “caliphate”. It was in Mindanao in May 2017 that Islamists pledging allegiance to IS besieged the city of Marawi, abducted a Catholic priest and several other Christians, set fire to buildings including a cathedral and Protestant-run college, beheaded a police chief, and erected the black flags of IS. Christians in the south fear that a proposed peace deal between the government and Mindanao’s Islamists will legitimise anti-Christian harassment. Already, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches has reported that some recent converts from Islam have been abused by their families and communities.

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Philippines: Marawi liberated but root cause of extremism remains

Soldiers on a military vehicle are seen on liberated but battle damaged street in Marawi City on 17 October. (Photo: Getty Images)

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared “Marawi City liberated from the terrorist influence” on Tuesday (17 October) after the military killed two of the ring leaders behind the five-month assault on the city, but a religious freedom expert has warned the “killing of militant leaders does not destroy the fighters behind […]

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Philippines: Islamic group vows to help Catholics with Marawi’s rebuilding

The siege of the city of Marawi in Mindanao by Islamists one year ago, displaced many people. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

A programme launched by the Catholic Church, aimed at rebuilding the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines after months of fighting between Islamist groups and the military, has received support from the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. According to AsiaNews, the rebel group is […]

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Filipino priest Teresito Suganob free after 4 months as hostage

Fr. Teresito “Chito” Suganob in a still taken from a video shortly after his release.

Catholic Filipino priest Teresito “Chito” Suganob is finally free, having been held hostage by Islamic State-linked militants for almost four months in the war-torn city of Marawi. According to The New York Times, the priest was rescued late on Saturday (16 September) by the Philippines military, as it moved closer […]

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Three months on, Islamists still hold Christian hostages, as Marawi residents start to rebuild

The siege of the city of Marawi in Mindanao by Islamists one year ago, displaced many people. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

More than three months after it first attacked the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines, the Maute terrorist group is on the run, while still apparently holding 46 hostages, including Catholic priest Teresito “Chito” Suganob and 13 children. Almost half a million Marawi residents are displaced as a result […]

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Fate of kidnapped Philippines priest – 57 today – ‘uncertain’

Catholic Priest Suganob is spending his 57th birthday in captivity, held by the Maute terrorist group in Marawi, Philippines. (Photo: still taken from a 'propaganda' video released by the kidnappers)

The fate of the kidnapped Filipino priest Teresito “Chito” Suganob – 57 today – has “become uncertain”, as the battle for the southern city of Marawi continues, according to the Catholic news agency UCAN. In June, World Watch Monitor reported that Father Suganob – who was abducted by the Maute […]

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Philippines reconsiders bill for autonomous Bangsamoro

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (C) shakes hands with Al-Hajj Murad (L), chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as Ghazali Jaafar (R), vice chairman of MILF, looks on during a ceremony where a draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was submitted to the president at the Malacanang Palace in Manila on July 17, 2017. (Photo: Getty Images)

A new law that will govern the creation of a new autonomous Muslim region in the southern Philippines was submitted as a bill to the government on Monday (July 17) for approval by Congress. President Rodrigo Duterte received the draft “Bangsamoro Basic Law” (BBL), crafted by a 21-member commission that […]

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