Philippines Human Rights
More than 200 cases of enforced disappearances recorded in the last decade remained unresolved, as did at least 305 cases of extrajudicial execution (with some estimates ranging as high as 1,200). Almost no perpetrators of these crimes have been brought to justice. Private armed groups continued to operate throughout the country, despite government commitments to disband and disarm them. Despite its 2010 deadline, the previous administration failed to “crush” the communist insurgency, and in August the new Aquino administration announced that counter-insurgency operations would be extended. Tens of thousands reportedly remained displaced in Mindanao two years after the end of the internal armed conflict, although the actual number was not known.
In July, the army and the MILF agreed to stop military operations after a year of fighting in Mindanao Island, southern Philippines. In September, they signed a framework agreement for an International Contact Group to serve as guarantors to the peace negotiations. In October, they signed an agreement on civilian protection that reconfirmed their obligations under humanitarian law and human rights law and designated an International Monitoring Team and NGOs to carry out monitoring and civilian protection functions. Formal peace talks resumed in December.
At least six journalists were reportedly killed in 2010. In the course of a single week in June, radio reporters Desiderio Camangyan (Mati City, southern Philippines) and Joselito Agustin (Laoag City, northern Philippines), and print journalist Nestor Bedolido (Digos City, southern Philippines) were shot dead.
In September 2010, the trial of the suspected perpetrators of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre began after significant delays. Fifty-seven people, including 32 journalists, were killed in the massacre, which took place in the run-up to national elections. At least 83 suspects were arrested and charged, including at least 16 policemen and members of the powerful political Ampatuan family. One hundred and thirteen suspects in the massacre remained at large.
- Suwaid Upham, who was allegedly one of the gunmen during the massacre, came forward in March and was willing to testify in court as a possible witness. However, in June he was shot dead. Reportedly, despite efforts on his part, he had been unable to enrol in the Witness Protection Programme. Two suspects were arrested in connection with his murder.
Torture and other ill-treatment
- In August, Philippine media broadcast a video of a plain-clothes police officer in a Manila police station torturing Darius Evangelista, a suspect apparently held for petty theft, while uniformed police officers looked on. The footage showed the suspect naked, being yanked by a cord attached to his genitals and whipped with a rope. The video prompted the authorities to suspend all 11 police officers involved. Darius Evangelista was arrested by policemen in March, but has not been seen since. There were no records of his arrest in the police logs. Darius Evangelista’s wife filed a formal complaint against nine police officers stating that his case was a violation of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.
- In January 2010, 40-year-old Ambrosio Derejeno was reportedly subjected to enforced disappearance. A family member last saw him in the custody of CAFGU members in Samar province. He was tied up and surrounded by men in camouflage uniform pointing their guns at him. Under the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, the act of using firearms to threaten someone who is restrained constitutes torture.
In December, the President signed the Implementing Rules and regulations for the Anti-Torture Act.