Philippines. A clear majority of the Muslim population of Mindanao voted in January to form an independent region called Bangsamoro (BARRM). Muslims in Mindanao have long been fighting for increased independence and the vote was part of a peace agreement signed between separatists and the Philippine government in 2014. According to the plan, BARRM will retain three-quarters of the tax levied in the region and have its own parliament and independent judiciary.. The Philippine government will continue to have control over defense, foreign and monetary policy. It will also appoint a transitional regime consisting of representatives from the separatist group Moro’s Islamic Liberation Front (Milf). According to media, 1.7 million voters voted yes to self-government, while 250,000 voted no.
On the island of Jolo in southwestern Philippines, 21 people died and over 70 were injured in an attack on a Catholic church in January. The terrorist group IS said to be behind the act, but authorities suspected that Ajang-Ajang, a faction of militant Islamist group Abu Sayyaf, carried out the attack. According to the police, the motive was to take revenge on members of Abu Sayyaf who were killed by the military. Others thought the attack was linked to the referendum on Mindanao as Abu Sayyaf is afraid of losing influence to Milf. On the island of Jolo are several armed groups known for bombings, kidnappings and beheadings of hostages. The island is described as a stronghold for Abu Sayyaf, who swore IS allegiance.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of PHL in general and in geography as Philippines in particular.
The United Nations stated in March that the Philippines has passed the Rome Statute governing the ICC’s International Criminal Court. It was last year that the Philippines announced that they wanted to withdraw from the ICC. This after the court began an investigation into Duterte and the abuses that occurred in connection with the country’s violent fight against drugs.
In April, the scientific journal Nature published the discovery of a previously unknown species of man. The species is called Homo luzonensis and is believed to have been over 1 meter long. Among the 13 fossil finds, which researchers found in a cave in Luzon, were teeth and bones of toes and fingers from at least three individuals. Homo luzonensis is believed to have lived about 50,000 years ago. According to a paleo-anthropologist at the Mus谷e de l’Homme in Paris, Homo used luzonensis stone tools and ate meat. The thesis is based on found animal bones with slaughter marks on.
The midterm elections, held in May, became a success for incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte. He consolidated his majority in the House of Commons while winning a majority in the Senate. The result paved the way for Duterte’s tough anti-drug policy. To further increase the power of the ongoing drug war, Duterte was expected to reintroduce the death penalty for drug smuggling and to reduce the penal age of 15 to 12 years.
In June, three soldiers and two civilians were killed in an attack targeting a counter-terrorist special forces on the island of Jolo. Another nine soldiers were injured. A 23-year-old man with links to Abu Sayyaf was suspected of the act the terror group IS took on.
By a marginal margin, the UN Human Rights Council approved in July to investigate abuses in connection with President Duterte’s fight against drugs in the Philippines. The initiator of the investigation was Iceland. Several human rights organizations have alerted about extrajudicial executions and arbitrary arrests, but the authorities have denied the accusations. Official figures show that at least 6,700 suspected drug users and longer have been killed by police. However, human rights organizations claim that the actual number is at least 27,000.
In response to the UN decision, Philippine Senate President Vicente Sotto told the ANC news channel that one should rather investigate Iceland that allows abortions.
In September, the country’s Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin announced that the Philippines will not allow visits by UN experts to investigate the country’s war on drugs.
The same month, media reported that a Swedish man arrested in the Philippines was suspected of participating in a terrorist attack at a market in Isulan, Mindanao. The man was arrested along with three other people who were reported to be Filipino citizens. In October, the Swede was formally charged with attempted murder. At the strike, among other things, an IS flag, a homemade bomb and several weapons had been found. Seven people were injured in the attack that the terrorist group IS took. According to the CNN news channel, the deed was performed hours before a Duterte ceremony in which Milf would lay down his weapons.
Authorities said in October that seven members of Milf had been killed by terrorists who attacked one of the group’s bases near the city of Shariff Saydona in the southern Philippines. The terrorist group IS took on the deed.
In December, Andal Ampatuan Jr. and four of his relatives were sentenced to 30 years in prison for lying behind 57 murders in an attack on a convoy in Maguindanao province on the island of Mindanao in 2009. The convoy included, among others, the wife of the Ampatuan clan’s worst political rival Esmael §Toto “Magudadatu. She was on her way to hand over her husband’s candidacy to the governor’s election. The trial has been going on for several years and has been riddled with bribery charges and several murdered witnesses.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Philippines in 2019 was 108,116,504, ranking number 13 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.370% yearly, and the population density was 362.6006 people per km2.