Annual Report: Philippines 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Philippines 2010

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Head of state and government Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 92 million
Life expectancy 71.6 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 32/21 per 1,000
Adult literacy 93.4 per cent

With 2010 as the self-imposed deadline by the government to "crush" the communist insurgency, the military failed to differentiate between New People's Army (NPA) fighters and civilian activists and human rights defenders in rural areas, resulting in displacement and unlawful killings. The military subjected civilians to secret detention, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Both sides carried out politically motivated killings and enforced disappearances. A culture of impunity continued as almost no perpetrators were brought to justice. In July, the government began actively pursuing the resumption of formal peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Hundreds of thousands remained displaced. Indigenous Peoples living in remote areas throughout the country, and the Moros (Philippine Muslims) in Mindanao were particularly affected. Privately armed militias and death squads carried out unlawful killings. Indigenous Peoples suffered both as a result of the conflict and from forced evictions from their lands in the interest of extraction industries.

Internal armed conflict

In December, the President signed into law "An Act Defining and Penalizing Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity".

Moro Islamic Liberation Front

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.

In December, the government estimated that there were some 125,000 internally displaced people in Maguindanao province. Only 20 per cent of displaced families lived in centres for the displaced. Many lived in tents unsuitable for long-term shelter, especially given frequent typhoons and floods. Living conditions were poor, with unclean water, inadequate sanitation and high levels of malnutrition.

National Democratic Front

In June, the government and the NDF agreed to work towards the resumption of formal peace talks to end the 40-year sporadic armed conflict. The NDF are linked to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA.

In July, the government lifted its four-year suspension of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee to allow the NDF to prepare for talks that had been stalled since 2005. However, military efforts to flush out the NPA resulted in the displacement of thousands, including Indigenous Peoples, from forested lands throughout the country.