The Philippines is a multiparty, constitutional republic with a bicameral legislature. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was elected on May 9 and began his six-year term in June. Voters also elected the vice president, senators, congressional representatives, and local government leaders; the elections were seen as generally free and fair, despite some reports of violence and vote buying. President Marcos’ party and allies won a majority of the 12 Senate seats contested and maintained an approximately two-thirds majority in the 306-seat House of Representatives.
The Philippine National Police is charged with maintaining internal security in most of the country and reports to the Department of the Interior and Local Governments. The Armed Forces of the Philippines report to the Department of National Defense and have domestic security functions in regions where the government assesses a high incidence of terrorist or separatist insurgent activity, particularly in the Mindanao region. The two agencies share responsibility for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. The national police Special Action Force is responsible for counterterrorism operations. Governors, mayors, and other local officials have considerable influence over local police units, including appointment of top provincial and municipal police officers and the provision of resources. In some rural areas, the central government continued a long-standing practice of supporting and arming civilian militias, which often received minimal training and were poorly monitored and regulated. Some political families and clan leaders, particularly in Mindanao, maintained private militias. Civilian control over some security forces was not fully effective. There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed numerous abuses.
Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings; forced disappearance; torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by and on behalf of the government, and other physical abuses by nonstate actors; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary and unlawful interference with privacy; serious abuses in a conflict, including unlawful civilian deaths, enforced disappearances or abductions, torture and physical abuses, and unlawful recruitment or use of child soldiers by terrorists and groups in rebellion against the government; serious restrictions on freedom of expression and media, including violence, threats of violence, and unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists, and the use of criminal libel laws; high-level and widespread government corruption; serious government restrictions on or harassment of domestic human rights organizations; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence including but not limited to domestic and intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child abuse, and early and forced marriage; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex persons; and threats and violence against labor activists.
The government investigated some reported human rights abuses, including abuses by its forces and paramilitary forces. Concerns about police impunity remained given reports of continued extrajudicial killings by police. Significant concerns also persisted about impunity for other security forces, civilian national and local government officials, and powerful business and commercial figures. Officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.
Muslim separatists, communist insurgents, and terrorist groups continued to attack government security forces and civilians, displacing civilians and resulting in the deaths of security force members and civilians. Terrorist organizations also engaged in kidnappings for ransom, bombings of civilian targets, beheadings, and the unlawful recruitment or use of child soldiers in combat or auxiliary roles. These actions were at times investigated and prosecuted, although there were credible allegations that charges were often leveled for political reasons.
For Further Reference
Full U.S. Department of State Human Rights Country Report
U.S. Department of State International Religious Freedom Country Report
U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report Country Narrative
Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review
Human Rights Watch World Report Country Chapter
Amnesty International Annual Report Country Chapter
Freedom House Freedom in the World Country Report