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.

Unlawful killings

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.

Read More: Philippines: End Acosta’s detention without trial

Philippines Newsroom

February 13, 2019 • Press Release

Arrest warrant against Rappler’s Maria Ressa shows authorities ‘railroading’ case in the Philippines

Responding to the arrest warrant served to Maria Ressa at the Rappler offices today on charges of ‘cyber libel’, Amnesty International Philippines Section Director, Butch Olano, said: “Just days after the National Bureau of Investigation announced that it will indict Maria Ressa for cyber libel, a warrant for her arrest was served today. Amnesty International …

February 6, 2019 • Press Release

Yet another absurd legal attack against Rappler and Maria Ressa in the Philippines

Responding to news that the Philippine Department of Justice has recommended ‘cyber libel’ charges against Maria Ressa, the editor of news outlet Rappler, together with one of its former reporters, Amnesty International’s Philippines Section Director, Butch Olano, said: “The latest harassment of Maria Ressa and her team comes as no surprise. Rappler’s fearless journalism has consistently …

July 23, 2018 • Press Release

Philippines: Duterte’s human rights smears are a classic diversionary tactic

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte today attacked critics of his deadly ‘war on drugs,’ telling human rights activists: “your concern is human rights, mine is human lives” and promising the continuation of a “relentless and chilling” campaign. In response, Rachel Chhoa Howard, Amnesty International’s Philippines Researcher, said: “Thousands of people in the Philippines have died as a …

May 18, 2018 • Press Release

Global Wikipedia edit-a-thon shines spotlight on the unsung women defending human rights around the world

Wikipedia enthusiasts from around the world are joining forces on 19 and 20 May 2018 to take part in a global edit-a-thon to shine a spotlight on extraordinary unsung women human rights defenders who have devoted their lives to fighting injustice. BRAVE:Edit, a collaboration between Amnesty International and Wikimedia (Wikipedia’s non-profit organization), will see hundreds …

December 5, 2017 • Press Release

Philippines: Police reinstatement in “drug war” threatens catastrophic return to mass killing

Responding to the news that President Duterte has ordered the police to resume their role in supporting his administration’s so-called “war on drugs,” James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

November 23, 2017 • Press Release

Police return to lethal drug operations would be a ‘human rights disaster’ in the Philippines

Reacting to the news that the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte is again considering expanding the role of the police in his administration’s “war on drugs”, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said the following

November 16, 2017 • Report

Philippines: ‘Battle of Marawi’ leaves trail of death and destruction

Civilians on the island of Mindanao paid a high price with dozens killed and widespread destruction of homes and property amid the ‘battle of Marawi’ that pitted the Philippine military against militants allied to the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) between May and October this year, Amnesty International said in a report today.

November 10, 2017 • Press Release

Trump must challenge Duterte’s record at ASEAN summit in the Philippines

As Donald Trump prepares to meet leaders at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila on November 12 and 13, Amnesty International is urging him to condemn President Duterte’s murderous “war on drugs,” and push him to investigate the unlawful killing of thousands around the country.

September 6, 2017 • Press Release

Killings of children continue unabated in Philippines

Responding to the discovery of the body in Gapan City of Reynaldo de Guzman, a 14-year-old boy who had been missing for nearly three weeks, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, made the following statement.

August 16, 2017 • Press Release

Philippines: 32 killed in a day as Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ hits new levels of barbarity

After Philippine police killed 32 people in what is believed to be the highest death toll in a single day in President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called "war on drugs", Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, James Gomez, said: