Annual Report: Philippines 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Philippines 2010

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  • In July and August, some 1,800 people from 15 Indigenous communities in Surigao del Sur province, 400 people from seven communities in North Cotabato province, and 500 people from seven communities in Davao del Sur fled after government troops entered their communities. Their economic activities were affected and their movement was restricted. Some community members were intimidated into joining Task Force Gantangan - Bagani Force, a government backed paramilitary unit composed of Indigenous Peoples tasked to fight the NPA. Some had returned home by the end of the year.

Unlawful killings

In a follow-up report on the Philippines in April the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions stated that the government had not implemented reforms to ensure command responsibility for human rights violations; that impunity for unlawful killings remained widespread; and witness protection remained inadequate. In addition, the CPP and the NPA had failed to reduce unlawful killings.

  • In March, unidentified assailants shot dead anti mining activist Eliezer Billanes in South Cotabato province in broad daylight. He had just returned from a meeting with soldiers to discuss his safety concerns.
  • In June, five soldiers beat and shot dead Katog Sapalon, a charcoal maker, in front of his family in Maguindanao province. A family member said that the soldiers repeatedly asked if he was a member of the MILF.
  • In September, armed men killed Catholic priest and human rights defender Father Cecilio Lucero in Northern Samar province. He had been traveling with an armed police bodyguard for security.
  • In November, more than 100 members of paramilitary groups, together with the private army of a powerful political clan, massacred more than 60 people, including 33 journalists and media personnel in Maguindanao province. Those killed were filling out a certificate of nomination for a provincial governor candidate.

Torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearances

Torture continued to be practised in military facilities and secret detention centres. In May, the UN Committee Against Torture expressed concern about the "numerous, ongoing, credible and constant allegations… of routine and widespread use of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody, especially to extract confessions" and that those "committed by law enforcement and military services personnel were seldom investigated or prosecuted".

  • In January, the military abducted Mansur Salih, a tricycle driver from Maguindanao province, during a raid on his village. The military held him incommunicado in a secret detention centre where he was beaten and repeatedly given electric shocks. He was fed only once every three days. Mansur Salih was made to sign a document he had not read, before he surfaced in April and was charged with arson.
  • In May, the military reportedly abducted Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Philippine descent, in Tarlac province. The military beat her and subjected her to near-suffocation with plastic bags. Melissa Roxas said that she was mistakenly identified by her abductors as the former secretary-general of leftist labour group Migrante.

In November, the Anti-torture Bill became law.

Indigenous Peoples' rights

Free, prior and informed consent, enshrined in Philippine law, continued to be circumvented or denied in practice. In August, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern that Indigenous Peoples were not adequately consulted with regard to infrastructure and natural resource exploitation projects. The Committee also highlighted the effect internal displacement had on the livelihoods, health and education of Indigenous Peoples.