Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III began his second year as President in June. Reports of torture, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearance persisted, with hundreds of past cases remaining unresolved. The first ever criminal prosecution for torture was launched in September. Women and men continued to face severe restrictions on their right to reproductive health, including access to contraception. In August, the Philippines ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
In February, the government began peace talks with the two main armed opposition groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army. Following a reduction in hostilities, clashes erupted again later in the year.
Politically motivated killings of political activists and journalists continued. In November, the USA announced it would withhold a portion of military aid until the Philippines made progress in resolving extrajudicial executions.
Hundreds of cases of enforced disappearance remained unresolved. According to figures released in August by Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance, the average number of enforced disappearances per year had barely changed since the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. There were 875 documented cases during his 21-year rule, compared with 945 in the 25 years since.
For the first time, members of the security forces were prosecuted under criminal anti-torture legislation. Yet reports of torture and other ill-treatment by the security forces continued. Prosecutions of criminal suspects remained highly dependent on individual testimony, including forced confessions.
Peaceful activists faced the risk of harassment, arrest and detention by the military near areas where battalions were deployed.
Government policies on birth control discriminated against women and violated their right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health, by restricting access to contraception and information on family planning. Abortion remained criminalized in all circumstances, except where a medical board certifies that the pregnancy endangers the woman’s life. Debate continued in Congress on the Reproductive Health Bill, which aims to remove current prohibitions and obstacles to services and information related to reproductive health.