Annual Report: Philippines 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Philippines 2011

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In November, the President vowed that he would disband and disarm identified private armed groups, but refused to abolish CVOs, the CAFGU and police auxiliary units, saying that they needed to be professionalized instead. The Armed Forces stated that it needed to increase the number of CAFGUs. In the wake of the Maguindanao massacre, the police said it had suspended recruitment for police auxiliary units.

In February, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines announced that it had recorded 777 cases of extrajudicial executions and 251 cases of enforced disappearance since 2001. In September, human rights group Karapatan recorded 1,206 extrajudicial executions and 206 victims of enforced disappearance during the same period. A report published in September, commissioned by the United States Agency for International Development and NGO the Asia Foundation recorded 305 cases of extrajudicial executions with 390 victims from 2001 to 2010. The same report stated that only 1 per cent of reported cases resulted in a conviction, and that members of the armed forces were implicated in 20 per cent of cases.

Civilians continued to be killed as the military's counter-insurgency plan failed to differentiate between civilians and members of the NPA. In some cases, the police or the military claimed that the deaths occurred during "legitimate encounters".

  • In November, botanist Leonardo Co and two other members of his team were shot dead in Leyte province, central Philippines, while collecting indigenous tree species. Military officials claimed that they were caught in the crossfire between the army and the NPA. However, a surviving member of the botanist's team denied this.

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, 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.

Indigenous Peoples' rights

In June, members of an Indigenous Dumagat community from Rizal province, northern Philippines, were reportedly driven from their homes by the military. One of the community members said that the soldiers tied up the men and abducted at least one of them. Three members of the community, who were reportedly members of a left-leaning Indigenous Peoples' party, were killed by unknown perpetrators in July.

According to a media report, the Army revived the vigilante group Alsa Lumad (Rise, Indigenous Peoples) in September in its campaign against the NPA. The report further stated that the government had resorted to arming Indigenous Peoples as part of its counter-insurgency operations against the NPA.

Sexual and reproductive rights

In September, the President stated that "the government is obligated to inform everybody of their responsibilities and their choices," and announced that the authorities would provide contraceptives to poor couples who requested it. The influential Catholic Church expressed its strong opposition to the move.

In August the Centre for Reproductive Rights issued a report which found that more than 560,000 women terminated their pregnancies each year and about 1,000 of them died annually after clandestine illegal abortions.