Human rights defenders and journalists were at risk of unlawful killings, and thousands of cases of grave human rights violations remained unresolved. Victims of human rights violations, including during martial law from 1972 to 1981, continued to be denied justice, truth and reparations. In April, the Philippines acceded to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, but had not yet established the required mechanism to monitor treatment of detainees. Access to reproductive health care remained restricted; a new Reproductive Health Law was enacted in December.
In October, the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed a Framework Agreement, which laid the ground for a peaceful resolution to decades of armed conflict in Mindanao but did not address human rights comprehensively. In October, Congress enacted the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which allows for a person to be jailed for up to 12 years for posting online comments judged libellous. After a public outcry, the Supreme Court later suspended implementation of the law pending judicial review. In November, the Philippines adopted the ASEAN human rights declaration, despite serious concerns that it falls short of international standards.Top of page
More than a dozen political and anti-mining activists and members of their families, and at least six journalists, were unlawfully killed.
Three years after the Maguindanao massacre, where state-armed militias led by government officials killed 57 people, the police still failed to arrest half of the 197 suspects. As trials of alleged perpetrators continued, prospective state witnesses, witnesses and their families continued to face threats.
In October, the UN Human Rights Committee concluded that the government should enhance the effectiveness of the witness protection programme and “fully investigate cases of killings and suspected intimidation of witnesses to put an end to the climate of fear that plagues investigation and prosecution.”Top of page
Three years after its promulgation, implementation of the Anti-Torture Act remained weak, with no perpetrator yet convicted of this crime. Torture victims, particularly criminal suspects, were reluctant to file complaints due to fear of reprisals and lengthy prosecution.
Enforced disappearances of activists, suspected insurgents and suspected criminals continued to be reported.
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.Top of page
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 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.Top of page