- The court case of Darius Evangelista, in which the act of torture and the identity of the perpetrators were caught on video in 2010, continued. Seven policemen were accused, but only two faced charges. The suspects were initially in police custody, but according to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, they went missing in April 2012 and remained at large.
Enforced disappearances of activists, suspected insurgents and suspected criminals continued to be reported.
- In January, after flying to Manila from Zamboanga City, farmers Najir Ahung, Rasbi Kasaran and Yusoph Mohammad were apprehended at the airport, allegedly by state forces, and were not seen since. The authorities refused to provide lawyers representing the missing men with closed-circuit video tapes or a list of security forces on duty at the airport at the time of their disappearance.
In October, Congress passed the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Bill, after more than two decades of lobbying from civil society. The bill, which criminalizes enforced disappearance and prescribes penalties up to life imprisonment, awaited the President's signature to bring it into force.
Impunity for torture, enforced disappearances and unlawful killings continued despite the government's stated commitment to eradicate these crimes and bring perpetrators to justice. Court cases arising from human rights violations during martial law (1972-1981) were dismissed or languished in court. In November, the President ordered the establishment of an interagency committee to investigate more recent cases of these grave crimes.
- In January, Raymond Manalo, a survivor of torture and enforced disappearance, was called to testify at the Office of the Ombudsman more than three years after he filed complaints against his captors for abducting, arbitrarily detaining and torturing him. He and several others were subjected to enforced disappearance and torture in 2006, allegedly by soldiers under the command of General Jovito Palparan, who had evaded arrest since 2011.
Right to health
In June, the government released the results of its 2011 Family Health Survey, which found that from 2006 to 2010 “maternal deaths” increased from 162 deaths to 221 deaths per 100,000 live births. Based on this data, the Health Secretary estimated that 11 women died every day from easily preventable complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth.
Following a decade of lobbying by civil society groups, the Reproductive Health Law was passed in December. The law introduced proactive funding for modern contraceptive methods by government, and mandatory health and sexuality education.
Amnesty International visits/reports
- Amnesty International delegates visited the Philippines in September.
- Philippines: Torturers evade justice on Aquino's watch (ASA 35/004/2012)
- Philippines: Amnesty International submission to the Human Rights Committee – 106th session (ASA 35/006/2012)
- Philippines: “Cybercrime” law threatens free speech and must be reviewed (ASA 35/008/2012)