Are Muslims discriminated against in the Philippines?

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With 85 million Catholic inhabitants, the Philippines is the largest Christian country in Southeast Asia and the largest Catholic country in Asia in terms of population. There is a Muslim majority in parts of the west of the Philippine southern island of Mindanao. The region was destabilized over decades by the struggle of Muslim rebels against the Filipino nation-state; around 140,000 people have died there since 1970. With the "Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao" created in 2019, a new, largely autonomous regional body was created with which the old, religiously based conflict should be permanently overcome.

Filipino society is generally relatively tolerant of LGBTI people, who (especially in the capital region) are also visible to the public as part of the population.
Since the proclamation of independence in 1898, there has been freedom of religion in the Philippines, which is also constitutionally protected. Further freedoms are enshrined in numerous laws. In addition, the country has ratified the most important international agreements for the protection of human rights. In 2006 the death penalty was abolished; Occasional campaign statements by President Duterte, elected in 2016, to reintroduce the death penalty have not yet been implemented.

 

Demographic proportions of religious communities

Based on the last available official figures from 2015, the population of the Philippines (then 101 million) should have grown to almost 110 million by 2019 with an average annual population growth of 1.7 percent. The majority of the Filipino population professes Christian religions. With 81 percent412 of the population, the Roman Catholic Church is by far the largest religious community in the country. Another 9 percent belong to one of the numerous other Christian churches that are active across the country (e.g. Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), Philippine Independent Church (Aglipayan), Members Church of God International, The Kingdom of Jesus Christ, and the Name Above Every Name). Among the independent Philippine churches, the "Iglesia Filipina Independiente" is numerically significant. Independent international churches, including evangelicals, receive some support from mother institutions in the USA and South Korea, for example.

As of 2010, 6 percent of the Filipino population was considered Muslim; their share is now estimated at around 10 percent. Historically, the Filipino Muslims inhabit regions in the west of the Filipino south island Mindanao and the islands of the Sulu Archipelago to the southwest with connections to Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. Due to internal migration, primarily for economic reasons, Muslim communities have now also emerged in the city of Cebu City and the capital region "Metro Manila". Many Muslims do not belong to any Islamic group.

Another, numerically small, group is distributed among other religions, including indigenous religions, or is officially not considered to belong to any religion.

 

Legal situation

The Philippines ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (UN Civil Covenant) on October 23, 1986.

The Philippine Constitution of 1987 also guarantees freedom of religion in Article 3, Paragraph 5. State and church are - as provided for by the constitution - separate; the Philippine state promotes the exercise of religious freedom through legislation and politics. No religion is stipulated by the state, the constitution allows its citizens to freely choose and practice their religion. Religious instruction is not given in state schools. Resignation from the church and change of religion are possible (albeit rarely in practice) and are subject to the rules of the respective religious community.

The Filipino legal system has some peculiarities that affect the Catholic character of the country by the majority of the population and the social and cultural role of the Catholic Church. In particular, know the Philippines no divorce.413 Filipino family law applies to all citizens with the exception of Muslims, for whom family and inheritance law is based on Islamic law.

Since 2010 there has been a state office based at the Presidential Office National Commission of Muslim Filipinos ("National Commission on Muslim Filipinos"), which advises the president and government on policy-making that has an impact on the interests of Filipino Muslims and is intended to serve as a point of contact for any petita to the government second instance Sharia courtswho decide exclusively on family and inheritance disputes between people of the Muslim faith. Koran schools (madrasas) exist in the parts of the country inhabited by Muslims and are maintained, provided they are officially to register let state funding as part of the school system. Muslim women have the right to wear the hijab in government institutions.

Im revised Filipino criminal code are against two paragraphs blasphemy which are intended to ensure the undisturbed practice of every religion. Interfering with religious ceremonies and hurting believers' feelings are criminalized.

Organized religious communities and churches have to choose tax reasons at the financial supervisory authority and the tax office to register to let. There is no known discrimination in registration. There are also no threats or other sanctions for failing to register or for late registration. It can be assumed that many unregistered religious groups practice their beliefs unhindered.

 

Restrictions on religious freedom by state actors

Filipino administrative practice allows religious communities to do their thing. There is a special "missionary visa" for foreigners that officially allows them to stay in the country for religious purposes unauthorized "political activity" by foreigners notices.

The Muslim population of the Philippines feels discriminated against by the state in large parts of the country, including the economic disadvantage of the Muslim provinces in the south of the country. Muslims complain that it is hardly possible for them to hold or exercise public office because the state official posts exclusively to members of the Catholic population forgive. Eleven of the 292 members of the House of Representatives are Muslims.

Non-Muslim Filipinos often face the Muslims in the country with prejudice and often have little knowledge of the religion of their Muslim compatriots. The National Council of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) generally complains about discrimination against Muslims by government agencies. According to the NCMF, this mainly affects Muslims who have fled Marawi to other parts of the country due to the war. Few isolated cases came to light, including situations in which the National Housing Authority and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission are said to have been reluctant to allocate government-subsidized housing to Muslims .

Especially the one with a large number of members Catholic Church traditionally has a not inconsiderable one in the country Power of opinion on social issueswhich has so far been largely accepted by government agencies. However, since President Duterte took office in June 2016, the relationship between the state and the Catholic Church has changed. Leading church representatives criticize President Duterte for his "war on drugs" and the associated human rights violations. President Duterte has repeatedly abused the Catholic Church in public tirades. Representatives of the Catholic Church also see themselves as the so-called "shrinking spaces" for civil society ", especially if they also take a political stance.

 

Social conflicts with a religious component

The Decades of armed struggle on the South Island of Mindanao between the "Moro Islamic Liberation Front" (MILF) and the Philippine armed forces aimed to create a largely independent state unit in the predominantly Muslim-inhabited regions of the island. After the peace treaty in 2014, the Philippine parliament passed the "Bangsamoro Organic Law ", which was also approved by the population of the region in referendums in January and February 2019. With the established "Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao / BARMM", which is initially governed by MILF representatives, institutions were created with which the old, religiously based conflict should be permanently overcome. The great expectations of the population, at the same time a lack of experience in the administration of the new corporation and the violent action of the "spoilers" that still exist, however, ensure that sustainable success is not a sure-fire success. In addition, some religious leaders of Christian communities in the region have expressed general concern about the future situation of Christian believers in the new BARMM. In the western part of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago in particular, there is still a terrorist threat from Islamist groups, some of which have close ties to the so-called Islamic State (IS).

 

Interreligious cooperation structures

With the Philippine section of the international "Religions for Peace" movement (RfP) there is an institution that is specifically dedicated to interreligious cooperation. Although members of all regions of the world are involved, Christian and Muslim religious communities in particular play a role in the Philippine context - others There is a lack of relevance in the country due to numbers. The "Religions for Peace" movement Philippines took part in August 2019 at the World Assembly 2019 in Lindau on Lake Constance, which is sponsored by the Federal Foreign Office.

 

412 last available figures from 2010.
413  Separation of spouses can legally only be represented by a lengthy procedure for the declaration of ineffectiveness of the marriage.