Philippines. After the peace talks between the government and the Communist Party (CPP) were canceled in November last year, the Justice Department turned to a court in Manila in February to have both the CPP and the Communist guerrilla NPA stamped. After that, the ministry wanted to get 600 people on a compiled list labeled as terrorists. Among the people were four Catholic priests and a woman working on indigenous issues for the UN.
In February, a Filipino lawyer reported President Rodrigo Duterte to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for human rights crimes in connection with the president’s fierce war on drugs. According to Philippine authorities, more than 4,000 people have been killed in various incursions and police operations since Duterte became president in June 2016. However, the data fell apart when human rights organizations reported a figure of over 12,000, while some media reported close to 20,000.
In March, the Philippines announced that it would withdraw from the Rome Statute, which governs the ICC’s operations. The decision did not affect the Court’s initial review of President Duterte when it was initiated prior to the Philippines’ announcement. In addition, the exit process took a year, according to the ICC.
According to Countryaah.com, Manila is the capital city of Philippines, a country located in Southeastern Asia. A diplomatic crisis between the Philippines and Kuwait erupted in the spring after it was revealed that several Filipino guest workers had been exploited and killed in Kuwait. For example, a Filipino maid had been found murdered in her employer’s freezer. After the disclosure, Duterte ordered all Filipino citizens to leave Kuwait, at the same time as a total ban on new jobs was introduced. In May, the crisis came to an end when the countries agreed on a regulation of working conditions. Among other things, Filipino guest workers would be given one day of rest a week and be given the right to keep their passports and mobile phones.
The Supreme Court of the Philippines voted in May to dismiss its own Chief Justice, Maria Lourdes Sereno, after a committee in the Philippine parliament’s lower house alleged that there were grounds for bringing her to court. Officially, Sereno was accused of not declaring its assets and liabilities – but critics condemned the process they believed was part of Duterte’s attempt to silence opponents. Sereno is one of the president’s foremost critics and has voted against many of his proposals.
Many women also criticized the dismissal of Sereno when Duterte said that her service would be replaced by a man and not a woman.
The president’s statement was one in the amount of derogatory and sexist comments against women. In the Philippines’ response to the me too movement, a social media campaign was started under the hashtag #Babae Ako, which means “I am a woman”. The movement became the start of a protest march that was conducted in Manila in June when more than 1,000 women walked the streets shouting “Duterte is afraid of women”.
The Time Magazine magazine named the founder of the movement one of the world’s 25 most influential personalities on the Internet 2018.
In the island of Basilan in the southern Philippines, in July, 11 people were killed in a suicide attack that the terrorist group IS took. However, military officials rejected IS’s recognition as propaganda. Nevertheless, the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, which has sworn IS allegiance, has a strong attachment to the island, which belongs to the Muslim region of Mindanao. In the area there are both Islamist terrorist groups and Muslim groups who have long struggled to gain more independence.
The attack on Basil came shortly after Parliament approved a new law that was part of a peace plan concluded in 2014 with one of the groups on Mindanao – Moro’s Muslim Liberation Front (Milf). The group has promised to put down its weapons and their demands on their own state if given more regional self-government and more resources. With the new law, the region would be allowed to keep three quarters of the tax collected there. In addition, they would receive an annual support of the equivalent of 5% of the income of the Philippine State, as well as having their own parliament and independent judiciary.
In September, more than 80 people died after the typhoon Manghut advanced across the northern parts of the Philippines.
The Ministry of Justice stated in November that it had found grounds to prosecute the Philippine news site Rappler and its editor-in-chief Maria Ressa for tax violations. The online magazine, whose license was revoked earlier in the year, is one of the few independent media left in the country. The decision aroused strong reactions among journalists in the Philippines, who said the measure was another way for Duterte to silence critics.