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Department Seal



                        THE PHILIPPINES

The Philippines is a democratic republic with an elected 
President, a fully functioning political party system, a 
bicameral legislature, a free press, and an independent 
judiciary.  Fidel Ramos was elected President in a closely 
contested but generally fair election in May 1992.  This was 
the first constitutional transfer of power since 1965.

In 1993 the Government continued a program of national 
reconciliation that included peace talks with the three main 
insurgent groups.  In 1994  it promulgated regulations 
governing implementation of an amnesty to those who applied for 
it.  The program was an important factor in reducing the level 
of violence, although fighting continues on a reduced scale.

The Department of National Defense controls the Armed Forces of 
the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of Interior and Local 
Government supervises the civilian Philippine National Police 
(PNP).  The two forces share responsibility for fighting a 
declining Communist insurgency and radical Muslim separatists.  
According to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), an 
independent government agency, the police continued to be the 
leading abusers of human rights.  Military forces, including 
local civilian militias, the Communist New People's Army (NPA) 
and Muslim insurgent groups also committed human rights abuses 
(see Section 1.a.).

The Government is implementing a far-reaching reform program 
("Philippines 2000") to convert its agrarian-based 
paternalistic economy into an industrial market-driven one, 
with key reforms already underway in foreign investment, 
banking, and trade.  Export-led growth (dominated by textiles, 
electronics, agricultural products, and copper) and foreign 
investment contributed to the 5 percent increase in gross 
national product in 1994, up strongly from the 2.2 percent 
increase of the year before.  While the Government has 
accelerated market reforms, glaring income disparities and 
widespread poverty remain, the result of years of mismanagement 
under previous governments.  In addition, an entrenched 
oligarchical elite continues to dominate the economy and 
politics and, at times, thwart reformist efforts.

Human rights abuses continued in 1994, although the number of 
violations reported in the first half of the year decreased 
significantly in most categories.  The decline in abuses 
primarily reflected a reduction in the number of military 
encounters between government and insurgent forces, at a time 
when the Government has been discussing a limited accommodation 
with, Communist insurgents and Muslim separatists.

Despite greater government and nongovernmental organization 
(NGO) commitment to improving human rights, human rights 
violations continue.  These included extrajudicial killings, 
disappearances, arbitrary arrests, torture, and harassment of 
civil rights activists and suspected insurgents and their 
supporters.  Many of these abuses, which were widely reported 
in the press, are perpetuated within the context of police and 
military involvement in illegal activities such as protection 
rackets, political gangsterism, kidnap for ransom syndicates, 
and assistance to illegal loggers.  The Government has taken 
some steps to curb these abuses, although not always 

Violence and discrimination against women and children continue 
to be serious problems.  Legislation enacted to deal with these 
problems has been well intentioned but largely ineffective due 
to budget constraints and the Government's failure to set 
implementing guidelines.  The justice system remains largely 
ineffective in dealing with human rights abuses.  There was 
little observable progress in trying, convicting, and punishing 
perpetrators of these abuses.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

The CHR reported 57 incidents of political or extrajudicial 
killing during the first half of 1994.  It reported 254 such 
killings for 1993.  Task Force Detainees of the Philippines 
(TFDP), a prominent NGO (see Section 4), reported 27 people 
killed extrajudicially in the first half of 1994 as compared to 
75 for all of 1993.  The numbers given by CHR are higher, in 
part, because the CHR includes violations by both the 
Government and insurgent groups, including the Communist Party 
of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army 
(CPP/NPA), while the TFDP lists only offenses attributed to 
government authorities.

Both CHR and TFDP attribute the majority of human rights 
abuses, including extrajudicial killings, to the police and 
military forces, including civilian militia units.  The CHR 
reported that in the first half of 1994 the PNP was the target 
of complaints in 251 out of 586 cases it received.  In April 
two Manila policemen were implicated in the case of a suspected 
thief who was taken at night from his cell and found dead the 
next morning.  In December a Manila policeman was charged with 
murder for killing a tricycle driver who reportedly refused to 
come inside the police station for questioning.

Police sometimes kill alleged criminals in staged shootouts.  
This may have been the case in the death of Abundio Lagunday, a 
suspect in the particularly brutal rape and killing of a 
7-year-old girl, Angel Alquiza, a few days after his arrest.  
Police alleged that enroute to the scene of the crime, 
Lagunday, in handcuffs, grabbed the gun of one of his escorts.  
In the ensuing scuffle, the police fatally shot Lagunday.  The 
authorities promised an investigation, but there was no report 
released by year's end.  The public and private consensus was 
that Lagunday was executed.

In a September encounter with members of the Red Scorpion Group 
kidnap gang, police operatives shot dead six alleged members of 
the gang.  Although one police officer suffered a gunshot 
wound, questions were raised as to whether the deaths were 
executions.  In February a leading member of the Presidential 
Anticrime Commission (PACC) reported that it regularly receives 
requests from relatives of victims of heinous crimes to kill 
the suspects extrajudicially.

In late February, approximately 10 victims of "salvaging" (the 
local term for extrajudicial killing) were found in Manila.  
Most of the victims were alleged drug dealers or misfits.  
Public sentiment pointed to police or local citizens 
(vigilantes) as the perpetrators.  Real or suspected police 
involvement also discouraged potential witnesses from 
testifying about the killings.

In an effort reform the police force, President Ramos and the 
PNP leadership in March dismissed 1,145 police officers and 
suspended another 1,020.

Civilian militia units or citizens armed forces geographical 
units (CAFGU's) also committed extrajudicial killings.  
Organized by the police and the AFP to secure areas cleared of 
insurgents, these nonprofessional units are often inadequately 
trained, poorly supervised, and prone to violence.  However, 
reflecting the further reduction in antiinsurgency activity, 
both the TFDP and CHR attribute only about 5 percent of human 
rights violations in the first half of 1994 to CAFGU's.

In a case that attracted wide attention in February 1993, two 
CAFGU personnel were charged with killing Chris Batan, a TFDP 
worker, in Mountain province.  The authorities arrested one 
suspect, who remains in jail.  Police have not arrested the 
second suspect even though he has reportedly been seen 
regularly in public.  In a case of a successful prosecution, in 
September the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of two CAFGU 
members for the 1990 killing of a policeman and two other 

As part of its continuing effort to disband CAFGU's, the 
military reduced the 72,000-member CAFGU'S by about 6,000 men 
in 1994.  The military announced that in 1995 CAFGU forces 
would be reduced further to about 58,000.  The Government plans 
to cut the CAFGU budget by around 10 percent in 1995.  However, 
the Government is hesitant to reduce CAFGU levels more rapidly  
because it fears that dismissed CAFGU members without 
employment prospects will resort to banditry and other criminal 

AFP violations of human rights continue to decline, reflecting 
the overall decline in counterinsurgeny activities.  The CHR 
reported that in the first half of 1994, 12 percent of all 
violations were committed by military forces.  The TFDP, which 
does not include nongovernment abuses, attributes 45 percent of 
violations in the same period to the military.  In March the 
Department of National Defense relieved several members of a 
special forces unit for allegedly killing a policeman in 
Laguna.  In September two soldiers were sentenced to 14 years 
in prison for the attempted murder of a state prosecutor in 
November 1993.

The NPA too was responsible for extrajudicial killings 
throughout the country.  The most notable case was that of 
Hector Mabilangan, a former NPA leader in the Central Luzon 
region.  Mabilangan, who had given up his rebel status, was 
shot by gunmen believed to be part of his old command in 
retaliation for what the murderers said were his "criminal and 
antirevolutionary activities."  In January the Alex Boncayao 
Brigade (ABB), a notorious Communist hit squad controlled by 
the Manila-Rizal Regional Committee of the CPP (MRRC), publicly 
threatened to kill over 300 of the "most notorious elements of 
crime syndicates and corrupt government officials."  The ABB 
released a hit list which included numerous high-ranking 
police, military, and political figures.  In May one person on 
the list, Timoteo Zarcal, was killed for "crimes against 
society."  In December another person on the list, Jose Pring, 
was killed.  Zarcal and Pring, both former police chief 
inspectors (major rank), had been relieved of duty because of 
their alleged involvement in kidnap-for-ransom activities.  
Members of their families, however, doubted the ABB's claim of 
responsibility for the two killings and pointed instead to the 
police as the perpetrators.  In October four suspected ABB 
members shot and critically wounded a traffic policeman as he 
was issuing a citation to a jeepney driver.  The ABB also 
renewed threats to impose the death penalty on policemen who do 
not observe the law.

Muslim extremists such as the Abu Sayaf Group (ASG) carried out 
other politically motivated murders.  On June 8, for example, 
ASG members abducted 72 civilian bus passengers on the 
outskirts of a town in Basilan province.  The group set free 37 
known Muslims and killed 15 Christians.  Other hostages were 
subsequently released.  Muslim extremists were also implicated 
in a series of terrorist bombings, in Zamboanga and General 
Santos cities, which injured or killed innocent bystanders.

Private security forces maintained by local landowners and 
other influential figures also committed extrajudicial 
killings.  In 1993 the arrest of the mayor of a town near 
Manila and a number of his associates (some of whom were 
policemen) on charges of raping and murdering a University of 
the Philippines coed and killing her boyfriend focused national 
attention on this longstanding problem.  The trial continued 
through the fall, with no end in sight.  The publicity 
generated by the case inspired the Ramos administration to 
undertake a nationwide campaign to dismantle "private armies."  
Although some arms were confiscated, critics charge that most 
of these were old and of little practical use, and that the 
campaign did not target private armies controlled by 
politically powerful individuals.  In August the PNP leadership 
admitted the campaign had so far failed and promised to renew 
the drive in an effort to disband these groups before the May 
1995 elections.

Poll violence was a problem in the May barangay (the smallest 
local political unit) elections.  The Department of Interior 
and Local Government (DILG) reported over 40 deaths in 
election-related violence, mostly attributable to clan and 
ethnic rivalries.  Most of the victims were incumbent barangay 
officials, candidates, and their active supporters.  The number 
of deaths represented a decrease from previous elections.

     b.  Disappearance

The CHR cited 5 cases of disappearance in the first half of 
1994 compared with 16 cases for all of 1993.  The TFDP reported 
no disappearances for the first half of 1994 compared with 12 
cases for all of 1993.  Because disappearances most commonly 
involve alleged insurgents or informants, the decline is 
largely attributable to the continued decrease in insurgent 

Active duty military and police officers are often implicated 
in kidnapings, especially of wealthy Filipino-Chinese, for 
ransom.  As a result, many victims paid the ransoms quietly and 
did not report the cases.  Kidnap victims have also refused to 
identify their captors for fear of retribution.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution prohibits torture, and evidence obtained 
through its use is inadmissible in court.  Guidelines issued by 
the CHR in 1988 direct all law enforcement agencies and 
military elements to avoid unnecessary force during 
investigation, arrest, detention, interrogation, and other 
activities.  Nonetheless, abuses continued.

The CHR reported two cases of torture in the first half of 
1994, compared with five cases in 1993.  The TFDP cites 25 
cases in the first half of 1994, compared to 39 for all of 
1993.  The CHR also cites an improved human rights awareness in 
the military, which it attributes to its human rights training 
programs for military officers and its practice of providing 
AFP promotion panels with "certificates of clearance" on 
officers' human rights performance.  However, the statistics 
generally exclude incidents of torture involving common 
criminals or others outside the context of counterinsurgency 
activities.  In addition, many cases go unreported because the 
victims fear reprisal if they seek redress.

Although prohibited by law, physical punishment continues to 
occur in jails and prisons.  Police forces commit most such 
offenses, and abuse of prisoners most commonly occurs during 
arrest and interrogation.  A CHR report on jail facilities 
throughout the country indicates that of 613 jails visited, 
only 64 were found to have adequate facilities and be in good 
condition.  Prisoners at some 410 jails were kept in 
substandard conditions and subjected to human rights abuses, 
including physical and sexual harassment.

International monitoring groups, including the International 
Committee of the Red Cross and foreign embassy officials, are 
allowed free access to jails and prisons.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Although the Constitution requires a judicial determination of 
probable cause before issuance of an arrest warrant, and 
prohibits holding prisoners incommunicado or in secret places 
of detention, the authorities continue to make illegal arrests 
and hold people in detention.  Detainees have the right to a 
judicial review of the legality of their detention and, except 
for offenses punishable by a life sentence or death, a right to 
bail.  Authorities are required to file charges within 12 to 36 
hours of arrest, depending on the seriousness of the crime.  
The CHR listed 54 cases of illegal arrest and detention for the 
first half of 1994 compared with 139 for all of 1993.  The TFDP 
found that 362 persons were arrested illegally in the first 
half of 1994 compared with 882 such arrests in the previous 

This decline is attributable in part to the Government's effort 
to promote the domestic peace process involving talks with 
Communist, Muslim, and military rebels.  The Government 
declared an amnesty program which offered former rebels and 
government security forces a chance to apply for amnesty, in 
the case of rebels for crimes they had committed in pursuit of 
political beliefs, and, in the case of government forces, for 
crimes they committed in the performance of their duties.  
Government security forces who committed serious human rights 
violations (arson, torture, extrajudicial killings, massacres, 
rape and robbery) were excluded from the amnesty program.  
Under the program, the National Amnesty Commission (NAC), a 
quasi-judicial body whose decisions are final, subject to a 
review by the Court of Appeals, reviews all amnesty 
applications.  Most rebel groups rejected the amnesty offer, 
noting that it should have resulted from peace negotiations and 
not by arbitrary action of the Government.

Despite the overall decline in illegal arrests and detentions, 
the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), a 
leading NGO network, contends that such violations against 
human rights workers are increasing.  The PAHRA cites the case 
of Wilfredo and Mila Sibayan, both NGO human rights workers, 
the former with PAHRA's Manila office.  Accused by military 
intelligence of being a leader of the NPA, Mr. Sibayan was 
arrested without a warrant outside his Manila home on March 28; 
no one was informed of his arrest.  He was transferred several 
times, eventually to the northern town of Abra, where he was 
charged with murdering a government soldier in an earlier 
shootout, despite his claim that he was in Manila at the time 
of the encounter.  He was refused legal counsel during his 
interrogation.  When Mrs. Sibayan finally located him in Abra, 
she too was arrested and detained.  Local church leaders were 
able to secure the Sibayans' release, and charges are pending.

The Sibayans' experience is echoed in a study on administrative 
detention by the Human Rights Committee of the NGO LAWASIA.  A 
majority of the detainees LAWASIA interviewed were arrested 
without warrant;  they were merely "invited" for questioning 
and subsequently held.  The study cited numerous violations of  
constitutional and human rights, such as lack of access to 
counsel during investigation and interrogation and physical 
maltreatment during detention.

The TFDP claims that there are still about 276 political 
prisoners being held illegally, two-thirds of whom have yet to 
be convicted of any offense.  The Government disputes this 
charge, contending that it has released all political prisoners 
and that all of the alleged "political" prisoners are actually 
being held for common crimes.  It is likely that some of the 
300 prisoners in question have committed common crimes, the 
most common charge being illegal possession of firearms, in the 
pursuit of their political beliefs.  It is also possible that a 
few are actual or suspected Communists who were framed for 
common crimes.  Proving this is difficult, however, and the 
onus of proof is placed on the prisoner.

The NPA is responsible for some extrajudicial arrests and 
detentions, often in connection with "courts" set up to try 
civilians and local politicians for "crimes against the 
people."  Many defendants in such trials are tortured and/or 
summarily executed.  In April a spokesman for the Melito Glor 
Command of the NPA announced that four former breakaway leaders 
of the CPP, including former NPA Chieftan Romulo Kintanar, 
would stand trial before a "people's court" for criminal and 
"antipeople's activities" committed while they were still 
active party leaders.

Forced exile is not legal and not practiced.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution calls for an independent judiciary and 
provides that those accused of crimes shall be informed of 
charges against them and have the right to counsel.  Trials are 
public.  Defendants are presumed innocent and have the right to 
confront witnesses against them, to present evidence, and to 
appeal their convictions.  The authorities generally respect 
the right of defendants to be represented by a lawyer.  There 
is no jury system under Philippine law; all cases are heard by 
judges.  Despite these safeguards and guarantees, the pace of 
justice continues to be slow.  Moreover, the Philippine 
judiciary is plagued with problems, susceptible to corruption, 
and biased in favor of the rich and influential.  Corruption 
also reaches into the jails and prisons, allowing suspects to 
escape.  While the Government, in particular the Justice 
Department, acknowledged the system's weaknesses and pledged to 
clean it up, there was little visible progress.

A study by ALTERLAW, a coalition of alternative law 
organizations, comprising various legal groups, identified 
personal connections, patronage, influence peddling, and 
bribery as some of the most common "unorthodox" methods used in 
the practice of law in the Philippines.  Legal experts in and 
outside of the justice system make the same observations as the 
ALTERLAW, pointing to the personal and professional 
relationships between judges and the individuals and 
corporations whose cases they are assigned.  The poor can 
languish in jails for years without formal charges being filed 
while the wealthy and powerful can use money and influence to 
affect their cases.  Many leading law firms, known in the trade 
as case fixers, gain the favor of judges and other court 
officials.  Witnesses are easily paid off.  While it is 
technically illegal to settle criminal cases out of court, the 
practice of reaching an "amicable settlement" is routine; 
without key victims or witnesses to testify, the authorities 
are forced to abandon their case.  The Government has been 
unable, for the most part, to take effective action to 
intervene in these situations.

There is a widely recognized need for more prosecutors, judges, 
and courtrooms.  The limit for hearing a trial is 90 days and 
that for deciding of cases is 45.  However, the period only 
begins after a case is brought to trial.  As a result, suspects 
can wait in jail for years before their cases are brought to 
trial and the countdown begun.  Because of numerous technical 
delays and frequent failures of judges and prosecutors to 
appear, even the 90-day limit is often not met.  In June the 
Justice Department reported that during the first quarter of 
the year, the prosecution was able to resolve only 4 percent of 
the criminal cases it had pending.

At times there are flagrant violations of the right to an 
expeditious trial.  For example, in February a Manila court 
sentenced three men to 17 years in prison for the 1975 murder 
and robbery of a priest.  The prisoners were immediately 
released because they had already spent 18 years in jail.  In 
June and August the CHR was able to secure the release of eight 
civilian prisoners who were sentenced by military courts when 
martial law was in place.  The prisoners had remained in 
custody despite a 1988 Supreme Court decision nullifying 
convictions of civilians by military courts.

Some human rights cases never go to trial because victims do 
not pursue their cases  or crucial witnesses remain silent.  
Lawyers representing victims of human rights violations are 
also harassed and are labeled as leftist sympathizers if the 
accused is assumed to be a leftist rebel.  Human rights groups 
report that the many former military officers serving as judges 
at the municipal and local level greatly diminish the chance of 
a fair trial for human rights victims.  The case of the accused 
killers of Chris Batan (see Section 1.a.) is typical of the 
problems involved in attempting to identify and convict 
perpetrators of human rights violations.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The Constitution provides that search warrants may be issued by 
a judge on a finding of probable cause.  Restrictions on search 
and seizure are generally observed, although raids without 
search warrants on private homes are occasionally reported.  In 
the past, judges have thrown out evidence obtained illegally.

The Government does not interfere with the free personal use of 
the mails or other public communications except upon issuance 
of a court order in the course of an investigation.

Some human rights NGO's are increasingly concerned about the 
Government's forced resettlement of tenant farmers to make way 
for development projects.  These resettlement schemes are 
designed to clear the land for industrial, agroindustrial, and 
tourism projects.  In urban settings, squatters are moved to 
make way for infrastructure, commercial, and housing projects.  
The Government has made efforts to resettle squatters, as 
required by law, but NGO's contend that in both rural and urban 
settings, those being relocated are sometimes given little or 
no notice and are violently ejected.  Land rights issues are 
made more difficult by the slow process of the Government's 
exercise of eminent domain and complex zoning regulations.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

Although the frequency of clashes between government and 
insurgent forces declined, they continued to inflict hardships 
on civilians, particularly in remote areas which were the scene 
of most fighting.  According to TFDP figures, in the first half 
of 1994 there were 7 forced evacuations, 1 food blockade, 9 
"violent dispersals" (i.e., forced evacuations in which 
violence was used), and 54 houses demolished.  Most of these 
categories showed declines over 1993.

In June the military launched a major campaign against the 
Muslim Abu Sayaf Group in Sulu and Basilian provinces.  The 
local office of the Department of Social Welfare and 
Development (DSWD) reported that over 22,000 civilians were 
displaced in the two provinces.  Over 20 evacuation centers 
were set up to assist the families.  A factfinding report by a 
group of human rights NGOs and church groups reported the 
military operation resulted in several civilian deaths as well 
as in extensive looting and destruction of property.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

There are virtually no legal restrictions on freedom of 
expression or speech.  The Government generally respects 
freedom of the press, and courts are consistent in their 
protection of the media.  There are some 25 privately owned 
newspapers in Manila and many more in the provinces that cover 
the political spectrum and freely criticize the Government.  
(Most are owned or controlled by politicians and prominent 
businessmen.)  Radio and television also enjoy considerable 
freedom.  Communist publications became legal with the repeal 
of the Antisubversion Law in 1992.  Journalists were able 
without legal penalty to meet and interview both Communist 
insurgents and military rebels.

The press, however, continues to face hazards in reporting on 
gambling, illegal logging, governmental corruption, and the 
drug trade.  The dangers are greatest outside Manila where 
powerful vested interests involved in such activities sometimes 
employ violence to discourage media exposes.  The journalists 
at risk are primarily radio broadcasters whose public affairs 
programs reach a much wider audience than either newspapers or 
televisions.  The Philippine Movement for Press Freedom (PMPF), 
an NGO, reported that in the first 8 months of 1994 three 
journalists, two of them radio broadcasters, were killed.  The 
PMPF also reported several cases of journalists being assaulted 
or harassed, usually by local police or employees of local 

The Government respects academic freedom in theory and 
practice.  It does not censor subject matter in classes, 
university publications, or conferences.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law requires permits from local authorities for outdoor 
demonstrations in public places and these are routinely 
issued.  Nevertheless, rallies and marches are often held 
without permits.  Some of them are forcefully broken up when 
they interfere with traffic or are otherwise disruptive.  
Private, professional, religious, social, charitable, labor, 
and political organizations are permitted to affiliate with 
recognized international bodies in their fields.

An exception to this rule was the Asia Pacific Conference on 
East Timor held in late May at the University of the 
Philippines.  In an unsuccessful effort to lower the profile of 
the Conference, particularly after Indonesian expressions of 
concern, the Government banned over 30 conference delegates 
from entering the country, including a Nobel laureate and the 
wife of the French President.  The conference was nearly 
canceled when a trial court ruling by a military judge banned 
it.  However, the Conference, minus the banned delegates, was 
held after a last minute decision by the Supreme Court that 
cited constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and 

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Government respects freedom of religion and does not 
discriminate against any religious group or its members.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Filipinos enjoy the freedom to change their place of residence 
and employment within the Philippines.  Movement within the 
country is largely unimpeded.  With rare exceptions, such as 
pending court cases, Filipinos are allowed to travel and work 

The Government for years provided first asylum to Indochinese 
boat people, allowed the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees (UNHCR) immediate access, and managed the refugee 
status determination process (screening) in accordance with the 
Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA) agreed on in Geneva in 
1989.  As a result of completion of the screening process and 
the June CPA steering committee meeting held in Bangkok, the 
Government announced the closure of all refugee and asylum 
seeker camps in the Philippines by the end of 1994.  This 
decision was made in compliance with a resolution of the CPA 
meeting calling for termination of the CPA and repatriation of 
the estimated 48,000 nonrefugees in the region by the end of 

By October 1, there were approximately 4,500 Vietnamese asylum 
seekers remaining in the Philippines, of whom only about 1,500 
had been determined to be "refugees" pending resettlement in 
third countries.  The Government stated that it screened out 
individuals (nonrefugees) who did not choose to accept 
voluntary repatriation and would be considered for "nonobjector 
orderly return" (the repatriation of individuals who have not 
previously volunteered but who will not necessarily object if 
notified that they must return to Vietnam) beginning October 1.

The Government does not practice forcible repatriation.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens have this right and exercised it in 1992.  The 
Philippines has a multiparty political system with periodic 
free elections based on universal suffrage for citizens.  In 
the legislature, both the House of Representatives and the 
Senate are controlled by a loose progovernment coalition, which 
does not always vote en bloc on contentious issues.

Many irregularities in the voting and election process mar 
political freedoms.  Multiple registrations of the same voter, 
nonexistent or dead voters, intimidation of voters, and 
extrajudicial killings of candidates and their supporters (see 
Section 1.a.), as well as vote-buying, all occur.  These 
problems are more acute at the local level, as are political 
dynasties, which use some or all of the above methods to 
maintain their grip on power.

The estimated 2 to 3 million overseas contract workers (OCW's) 
represent a significant block of voters that is effectively 
disenfranchised.  Advocates of the rights of OCW's in 1994 
began an effort to institute an absentee balloting program.

There are no restrictions in law or practice on participation 
by women and minorities in politics.  Twenty-three women serve 
in the 215-seat House, 4 in the 24-member Senate, and 3 in the 

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The Philippines has an active and effective nongovernment 
organization community.  There are many domestic human rights 
NGO's, including the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines 
(TFDP), the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and the 
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA).  The 
latter organization represents numerous NGO's that monitor 
human rights conditions among various social and occupational 
groups.  While these groups operate without government 
restriction, they are often viewed with suspicion by the 
military and police.  Some local civilian officials also have 
been uncooperative.  Employees of human rights groups in the 
field have encountered harassment (see Section 1.d.).  A few 
have been killed in previous years, but there were no such 
killings reported in 1994.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is an independent 
government organization and the largest human rights 
organization in the Philippines.  In 1994 the CHR chaired 747 
public information and education activities, many of which were 
designed for audiences of military, police, and other public 
officials.  Although it lacks prosecutory powers, it is 
constitutionally mandated to investigate all alleged violations 
of human rights.  However, a January Supreme Court decision 
limited the CHR's powers to investigate civil and political 
rights.  The CHR itself recognizes that it has an outdated 
organizational structure, budgetary constraints, and a need for 
more field offices.  The CHR has been criticized for its 
lengthy and cumbersome procedures, its inefficiency, and its 
practice of placing the burden of proof on complainants, 
despite the risk they may face of reprisals or their lack of 

Representatives of international human rights groups are free 
to travel in the Philippines and investigate alleged abuses. 
Government officials routinely meet and discuss human rights 
problems with foreign governmental and nongovernment 

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution prohibits discrimination against women, 
children and minority groups.  Implementation of all 
constitutional guarantees is at times hindered by lack of 
implementing legislation and by budgetary constraints.


In law but not in practice, women have most of the rights and 
protections accorded men.  The Women in Development and Nation 
Building Act in 1992 terminated previous restrictions on 
women's rights to buy and sell property.  However, the 
Government does not fully enforce this legislation.

The Filipino people are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.  The law 
does not allow divorce and women's rights advocates view this 
as a major barrier to achieving the empowerment of women.  
Annulment of marriages is now fairly easy to achieve due to 
changes in the Legal Code, and the practice has become more 
common.  However, the cost of hiring a lawyer familiar with the 
new Code precludes this option for many women.  The practice of 
"unofficial divorce" (permanent separation) is common among the 
lower classes; in these cases, the wife is usually left with 
the children, but the husband provides little or no support for 

Women and girls in the lower economic strata are particularly 
vulnerable to exploitation by unethical operators who promise 
employment overseas or arranged marriages with foreign men. 
Some of these women end up working as prostitutes or suffering 
abuse at the hands of their foreign employers or husbands. 
While in years past the focus of attention was on abused 
Filipino maids in Kuwait and other Gulf states, in 1994 the 
condition of Filipino "entertainers" in Japan and the 
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands generated 
considerable press attention.  Either through international 
trafficking syndicates or individual employers, Filipino women 
were often recruited to work abroad as maids, entertainers, or 
models and required to participate in public shows or dances 
where nudity and the prospect of sex was the principal 
attraction.  Others, facing bleak employment prospects at home, 
accepted questionable jobs in the knowledge that they would be 
required to engage in prostitution.  In order to curb such 
abuses, the Government campaigned to end illegal recruiting and 
raised the minimum age and educational standards for young 
women seeking jobs abroad.  It also expanded its labor attache 
corps in countries with large overseas contract worker 
communities and worked with foreign governments and NGO's to 
provide more effective protection for Filipino workers at risk 
for sexual or economic exploitation.

Violence against women, particularly domestic violence, is a 
serious problem.  The Women's Crisis Center, an NGO assisting 
abused and battered women, reported that it receives over 100 
calls a week from battered women in the metropolitan Manila 
area.  Women's advocates point to poverty, double standards of 
morality, lack of laws on domestic violence, and a traditional 
societal reluctance to discuss private family affairs, as some 
of the reasons for the prevalence of domestic violence.  No 
divorce rights and the lack of job opportunities combine to 
limit the ability of women to escape destructive relationships.

Rape continues to be a major problem; its frequency is 
estimated as high as one every 6 minutes.  The incidence of 
reported rape, however, is estimated by the Philippine National 
Police to be 20 percent or lower.  Police said that reported 
rape cases in the first quarter of 1994 increased 17 percent 
over the same period in 1993.  Women's groups charge that 
accused rapists are dealt with leniently by the male-dominated 
law enforcement and judicial systems.  According to women's 
groups, many women accept rape as part of the culture.  Many 
rape victims are minors, who accept incestuous relationships, 
rather than subject the family to public embarrassment.

Proposed House legislation seeks to change the definition of 
rape (classifying it as a crime against a person, i.e., a 
public offense, rather than a crime against chastity, i.e., a 
private offense) and to expand the circumstances and conditions 
in which rape is considered to have been committed.  The 
proposed laws, which face resistance in the House, would make 
marital rape a crime.  They would also allow a rape victim's 
family or the state to file a complaint on her behalf.  The 
laws do not, however, seek to increase the severity of the 
penalties for this crime.

In response to these problems, the PNP started the PNP Women's 
Desk program designed to protect women against, and encourage 
the reporting of, crimes against women.  PNP stations include 
female officers trained in dealing with victims of sexual 
crimes and domestic violence.

In June a high profile case of sexual harassment involving two 
senior government officials focused attention on sexual 
harassment in the workplace.  A 1993 survey by the Institute of 
Labor Studies found workplace sexual harassment to be 
widespread, yet the problem is underreported due to victims' 
reticence and fears of losing their jobs.  In September the 
Supreme Court upheld a decision that found sexual harassment 
was "valid cause for separation from service."

Prostitution is illegal but widespread and a fact of life for 
many poorer Filipinos with limited access to a more acceptable 
career or standard of living.  Penalties for prostitution are 

Women also face discrimination in employment.  Among 
administrative, executive, and managerial workers, the average 
woman's salary was only one-third of that of her male 


Several government agencies have programs devoted to the 
education, welfare, and development of children.

In 1994 the Commission on Human Rights opened its Child Rights 
Center designed to monitor and investigate violations of 
children's rights.  Sweeping legislation was passed in 1992 to 
protect children's rights, but the Government has not 
implemented it due to lack of funding and its failure to 
coordinate enforcement among the many agencies involved.

Societal values that define children as extensions and property 
of the parents are a key factor in limiting children's rights.  
Courts tend to give precedence to parental authority over the 
rights of a child.

Many Filipino children face serious problems stemming from 
widespread poverty and the Government's inability to eradicate 
organized abuses involving child labor and child prostitution.  
One children's rights organization estimates that there are up 
to 100,000 child prostitutes in the Philippines.  Although the 
authorities have staged some successful raids on brothels and 
massage parlors, freeing underaged girls forced to work as 
prostitutes, the problem remains a large scale one.

Street begging and truancy are common in large cities.  The CHR 
estimates the number of street orphans in metropolitan Manila 
at fewer than 1,000, but up to 100,000 destitute children spend 
most of their waking hours on the streets.

The rates of child abuse and beatings and child rape alarm the 
authorities; several men have been sentenced to death for the 
rape of their daughters.  Many children have been orphaned or 
otherwise adversely affected by the ongoing insurgencies.

     Indigenous People

Indigenous peoples live throughout the Philippines but 
primarily in the mountainous areas of Northern Luzon and 
Mindanao.  They account for 10 to 15 percent of the 
population.  Although no specific laws discriminate against 
indigenous peoples, the remoteness of the areas they inhabit 
and a cultural bias against them tend to prevent their full 
integration into Philippine society.  Their ability to 
participate meaningfully in decisions affecting their lands, 
cultures, traditions, and the allocation of natural resources 
is minimal.  Because they inhabit mountainous areas favored by 
guerrillas, indigenous peoples suffer disproportionately from 
counterinsurgency operations.  Indigenous children suffer 
disproportionately from lack of basic services, such as health 
and education facilities.

Although the 1987 Constitution calls for the protection of the 
ancestral lands and culture of indigenous peoples, the 
Government has not pushed for legislation to enforce these 
rights.  What indigenous peoples regard as "development 
aggression"--the utilization of their lands for hydroelectric 
dams, mining operations, and other large-scale development 
projects--often forces their relocation and the destruction of 
farming and hunting lands they have used for centuries.  The 
Government does little to secure indigenous peoples' claims to 
such lands.  Nonetheless, in June the Government granted land 
rights for 108,000 hectares of land to 3,000 Bugkalot families 
in Quirino province.  In addition, a Philippine Senator has 
proposed the creation of a commission on ancestral domains to 
conserve the lands for the benefit of cultural minorities.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Although people of Chinese ancestry have extensively 
intermarried with other Filipinos and are relatively well 
assimilated, there is a distinct Filipino-Chinese community 
numbering perhaps 1 to 2 percent of the population.  This 
minority plays a prominent role in the national economy and is 
the object of some resentment by the general population.  As 
noted in Section 1.b., the Chinese have been a primary target 
of kidnaping for ransom.  In 1994 Filipino-Chinese businessmen 
were also the targets of an extortion scheme involving judges 
and customs officials.  The judges issued false search warrants 
to the customs officials who, upon serving the warrants, 
offered to accept bribes to fix the matter.

     Religious Minorities

Muslims, who comprise about 5 percent of the total population 
and are reside principally in Mindanao and adjacent islands, 
constitute the largest minority group in the country.  They 
historically have been alienated from the dominant Christian 
majority, and efforts to integrate Muslims into the political 
and economic fabric of the country have met with only limited 

Philippine culture, with its emphasis on familial, tribal, and 
regional loyalties, creates informal barriers whereby access to 
jobs or resources is provided first to those of one's own 
family or group.  Many Muslims claim that they continue to be 
underrepresented in senior civilian and military positions.

There are one Muslim Supreme Court justice, one Muslim Senator 
(a woman), and eight Muslim Congressmen.

The Government inaugurated the Autonomous Region of Muslim 
Mindanao (ARMM) in November 1990 to meet the demands of Muslims 
for local autonomy in areas where they hold a majority or are a 
substantial minority.  However, the ARMM is limited to the four 
provinces which elected to join; it is regarded as an arbitrary 
creation of the Government and as falling short of representing 
the aspirations of all Muslims in the region, including the 
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Organization of 
the Islamic Conference (OIC).  The ARMM Government is hobbled 
by an inadequate tax base, poor performance, and a continued 
shortfall in promised central government assistance.

     People with Disabilities

A 1983 law provides for equal physical access for the disabled 
to all public buildings and establishments, and a law passed in 
1992 provides for "the rehabilitation, self-development, and 
self-reliance of disabled persons and their integration into 
the mainstream of society."  Advocates of the handicapped 
maintain that these laws are not enforced fully, citing 
inadequate government funding, widespread evasion, and 
lingering prejudice against the handicapped among many 

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution and legislation provide for the right of 
workers, including public employees, to form and join trade 
unions and this right is exercised in practice.  Trade unions 
are independent of the Government and generally free of 
political party control.  Unions have the right to form or join 
federations or other labor groupings, and several have 
affiliated with international trade union confederations and 
trade secretariats.  The largest federation, the Trade Union 
Congress of the Philippines is affiliated with the 
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.  Unions 
oppose government efforts to loosen prohibitions against "labor 
only" subcontracting, which they claim allows employers to 
evade obligations to their employees and helps them to break 

Subject to certain procedural restrictions, strikes in the 
private sector are legal. However, a 1989 law stipulates that 
all means of reconciliation must be exhausted and that the 
strike issue has to be relevant to the labor contract or the 

The Committee of Experts of the International Labor 
Organization (ILO) has expressed concern that certain 
provisions of the Labor Code (authorizing the Secretary of 
Labor to order compulsory arbitration to avert strikes in 
industries deemed indispensable to the national interest) are 
not in conformity with the ILO Convention on Freedom of 
Association.  In 1994, however, the ILO noted that the 
Government sought its assistance in reforming the Labor Code.  
International criticism also has focused on the Code's ban on 
unfair practices' strikes during the term of a collective 
bargaining agreement.

According to the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights 
(CTUHR), an organization which publicizes security force 
violations, the rights of striking workers continued to be a 
problem in 1994.  The CTUHR counted some 70 incidents by 
September, involving over 900 alleged victims.  The CTUHR said 
police were involved in nearly all these cases, and there also 
were instances in which military personnel were involved in 
dispersing strikers and dismantling picket lines in their area 
of jurisdiction.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Constitution provides for the right to organize and bargain 
collectively.  The Labor Code provides for this right for 
private sector employees and for employees of government-owned 
or controlled corporations, but it provided only limited rights 
for certain government workers.  Although unions claim to have 
organized almost 11 percent of the total work force of 27 
million, only 600,000 workers (2 percent) are covered by 
collective bargaining agreements.

Under the law, dismissal of a union official or worker trying 
to organize a union is considered an unfair labor practice.  
Nevertheless, employers sometimes attempt to intimidate workers 
with threats of firing or factory closure.  Allegations of 
intimidation and discrimination in connection with union 
activities are grounds for review as possible unfair labor 
practices before the National Labor Relations Commission 
(NLRC).  The CTUHR and many trade unions have filed complaints 
before the NLRC alleging workers were dismissed solely to get 
rid of union members.  The NLRC and the National Conciliation 
and Mediation Board (NCMB) provide the Department of Labor and 
Employment (DOLE) with quasi-judicial mechanisms for hearing 
and adjudicating workers' claims.  The process has been slow.

There were several dozen strikes during the year, fewer than in 
previous years.

Labor law and practice are uniform throughout the country, 
including in export processing zones (EPZ's).  Except for the 
Bataan EPZ, unions have not been able to organize zone 
workers--some labor sources attribute this failure to employer 
resistance and antiunion discrimination by EPZ authorities.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced labor is prohibited, and the Government effectively 
enforces this prohibition.  The Government investigates and 
attempts to act upon reports of abuse of Philippine workers 

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Child Protection Act of 1992 prohibits the employment of 
children below age 15, except under the direct and sole 
responsibility of parents or guardians or where employment in 
cinema, theater, radio, or television is essential.  The Labor 
Code allows employment for those between the ages of 15 and 18 
for such hours and periods of the day as are determined by the 
Secretary of Labor but forbids employment of persons under 18 
years of age in hazardous or deleterious work.  However, a 
significant number of children are employed in the informal 
sector of the urban economy or as field laborers in rural 
areas.  The most serious, industrywide violations of child 
labor law occur in clothing related production, much of which 
is exported.

Children continue to be employed in a dangerous form of coral 
reef fishing, which exposes them to shark and needlefish 
attacks and increases their vulnerability to disease.  The 
Government has investigated and attempted to reduce violations 
of child labor laws outside the agricultural sector through 
well-publicized raids on reported violators.  Relying on tips 
provided by concerned NGO's (especially the Kamalayan 
Development Center), officials of the DOLE and the National 
Bureau of Investigation carried out a number of successful 
raids on factories and farms.  The DOLE succeeded in forcing 
employers to pay back wages, but court prosecutions encountered 
well-known delays.  Secretary of Labor Confesor used radio 
programs to warn parents in rural provinces of the danger of 
allowing recruiters to lure their children with promises of 
"good jobs" in Manila.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Under the Minimum Wage Act of 1989, tripartite regional wage 
boards set minimum wages.  Rates were last revised in late 
1993, with the highest in Manila and lowest in rural regions.  
The minimum wage for workers in the national capital region 
(NCR) was approximately $5.60 (P145) per day.  This amount is 
insufficient to provide a worker and his family in the NCR with 
a decent standard of living.  Unless at least two family 
members are working, this minimum wage will not raise a 
family's income above the Government's "poverty threshold."  
Wage boards outside the NCR, in addition to establishing lower 
minimum levels, also exempted employers according to such 
factors as establishment size, industry sector, involvement 
with exports, and level of capitalization.  This excludes 
substantial numbers of workers (especially in agriculture, 
domestics, laborers, janitors, messengers, and drivers) from 
coverage under the law.  Although unions have called for a 
nation-wide increase, the Ramos administration favors leaving 
responsibility for minimum wage adjustments with the regional 
wage boards.  DOLE surveys showed that in the first half of 
1994, 25 percent of the inspected establishments violated the 
minimum wage law.  Given the difficulty of prosecuting cases 
through the courts, the DOLE relies on administrative 
procedures and moral suasion to encourage voluntary employer 
correction of violations (see Section 1.e.)

The standard legal workweek before overtime is 48 hours for 
most categories of industrial workers and 40 hours for 
government workers, with an 8 hour per day limit.  An overtime 
rate of 125 percent of the hourly rate is mandated.  The law 
mandates a full day of rest weekly.  The enforcement of 
workweek hours is managed through periodic standards 
inspections by the DOLE.

A comprehensive set of occupational safety and health (OSH) 
standards exists in law.  Although policy formulation and 
review of these standards is the responsibility of the DOLE, 
actual enforcement is carried out by 14 regional offices.  
Statistics on actual work-related accidents and illnesses are 
incomplete, as incidents (especially in regard to agriculture) 
are underreported.  Workers do not have a legally protected 
right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations 
without jeopardy to continued employment.


[end of document]


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