Displaying items by tag: Philippines
On 22 March the Philippines demanded China withdraw its massive ‘fishing fleet’, controlled by its navy, from waters that Manila has exclusive economic rights over. These boats have been nicknamed ‘little blue men’ because their role is similar to Putin's famous ‘little green men’ (Russian soldiers without official insignia who invaded eastern Ukraine on behalf of Moscow in 2014). For the Chinese navy to masquerade as fisherfolk is nothing new. But this time the sheer scale of the flotilla, a whopping 220 vessels, totally outnumbers the ill-equipped Philippine navy, coastguards, and local fishing boats which have long complained of China chasing them out of their own waters. As China's power rises, so too has Beijing's determination to dominate the South China Sea despite American intervention in the past, and the Philippines’ attempts to prevent illegal control.
Praise God for the rescue of three teenage girls from online child sexual exploitation in the Philippines. They are receiving trauma-informed care from the city social welfare department. Also, a group of 13 women and men were struggling to rebuild life in freedom after being rescued. An NGO bought new bicycles for them and helped them set up small businesses delivering milk and cloth in their community - where they now earn steady incomes. Pray for more creative ways to support survivors long-term. Praise God that there have been over 100 convictions by government prosecutors for cases of online exploitation of children.
The Philippines is used to powerful storms, but this year preparations are being complicated by Covid-19 which has killed 7,221 people so far. On 1 November, in preparation for Typhoon Goni, 361,000 people were evacuated to tents inside school gymnasiums and government-run evacuation centres. Coronavirus patients are treated in isolation tents. Goni damaged 90% of the buildings in Virac, the first town it struck. Pray for the 70,000 residents who have lost so much, including lives. Pray for those in several other towns still inaccessible on 5 November. Pray for successful relief efforts being complicated by the pandemic. Pray for the 370,000 displaced people not knowing what they will find when they return home. Tens of thousands of homes are completely destroyed. Goni is the worst typhoon to hit the Philippines in seven years. With communication not yet completely restored it is difficult to obtain information. Pray for speedy repairs to electricity, water, and cellular networks.
Recently the Ghana police, working with the department of social welfare and IJM, rescued nine children and arrested five suspects. We are thankful to the resilient and brave team who made this rescue possible. Please pray for further Ghana rescues. Four Filipino children were also rescued thanks to another multi-agency effort led by the Philippines Women and Children Centre. One suspect, believed to be a child’s relative, was arrested. Finally in South Asia ten people, including children, were rescued from bonded labour at a brick kiln.
Local missionaries are finding ways to expand God’s kingdom on Mindanao island by holding Bible studies and church services in areas so remote it requires three hours through rough terrain to reach by motorcycle, and five hours during the rainy season. Although the island is untouched by coronavirus it is a nest for communist rebels, the New People’s Army, and the Islamic extremist Abu Sayyaf Group. Terrorism is rampant. The armed wing of the Communist Party has waged a protracted guerrilla war against the government since 1969. The government, USA, and EU have designated it as a terrorist organisation. Where the pandemic has reached and lockdowns are in effect, missionaries are using Zoom, Facebook messaging and other internet means for regular fellowship, prayer meetings and Bible studies. Filipinos sharing the Good News of Jesus need our prayers as they face Islam and Communism.
Praise God for a rescue last week that resulted in the arrest of 5 suspects and the rescue of 15 victims from online sexual exploitation. This rescue was the result of close collaboration between Philippine authorities, Australian law enforcement, and IJM. Pray for the survivors as they receive care and for continued strong collaboration efforts with international law enforcement. Read more on the story here
The Philippines have a Christian majority, with a population of over 100 million. 8-10 million Filipinos live abroad, working as nurses, engineers, domestic servants, nannies, casual labourers and sailors. Many are enthusiastic and effective witnesses for Christ, often in countries where Christianity is most restricted or persecuted. Some have suffered greatly for their faith. The Philippines struggle against poverty, injustice, corruption, poor infrastructure, unreformed land laws, tropical storms, and heavy-handed government. A rampant drug trade has evoked the murder of thousands, with victims rarely those responsible for drug trading. The government’s ‘war on drugs’ looks like a war on slum-dwellers - where most victims come from. The Church includes vibrant and charismatic grassroots movements devotedly following Jesus and moving in the Spirit. Their problems are those associated with rapid growth: splits, false teachings, personality cults, and widespread poverty. Pray for continued growth of Christian ministries among the urban poor.
Rejoice that during lockdown IJM Philippines has assisted local police on 16 online sexual exploitation rescue operations, bringing to safety 57 children and vulnerable adults, including a three-month-old baby, and seeing eight suspects arrested. In South Asia IJM had another successful rescue operation at a construction site. Officials filed all the necessary police reports within 24 hours - a huge moment of progress demonstrating their knowledge and political will. IJM were also blessed to see the survivors get their release certificates and other entitlements quickly so that they could return home swiftly. Pray for their ongoing recovery back at home, especially in the disorienting first few weeks of freedom.
Thousands have been killed amid ‘near impunity’ for offenders in the war on illegal drugs since 2016, the UN says. Its report levelled heavy criticism at President Rodrigo Duterte's government. His crackdown has been marked by high-level rhetoric that can be seen as ‘permission to kill’. Official figures show more than 8,000 people killed since he took office: other estimates put the figure three times as high. Most victims are young poor urban males, and police, who do not need search or arrest warrants to conduct house raids, systematically force suspects to make self-incriminating statements or risk facing lethal force. Duterte described the report as ‘a travesty’. Despite the many killings he remains very popular.
Home should be the safest place. But for child victims of online sexual exploitation, it is far from safe. Lockdown has meant being locked in with their abusers, with no way to escape. As you read this, western predators from the UK are paying to livestream the sexual exploitation of children from the Philippines. Tragically, this vile crime is growing. In almost two thirds of cases in the Philippines, children are abused by their own families - like Maarko, who, aged just seven, became a victim performing ‘shows’ for sex offenders in the UK to watch. The pandemic creates a perfect storm for increased child sexual exploitation online. Children are locked in with their abusers, and western predators are at home with more time to spend online. Global law enforcement is reporting that child sexual abuse sites are crashing due to increased demand during lockdown.