Internal Security and Terrorism

Police Forces: The Department of Interior and Local Government oversees the Philippine NationalPolice (PNP), which has an active force of about 115,000. The PNP, which had been entrusted with internal security in 1996, lost this role two years later, when the Armed Forces of the Philippines—particularly the army—reasserted its lead role in internal security. In September 2002, the PNP regained some of its authority when it was allowed to form a counterinsurgency task force in northeast Mindanao. Meanwhile, the army established a parallel task force in southwest Mindanao.

Internal Threat: Insurgencies by various Islamic terrorist and separatist groups and the communist New People’s Army pose a significant internal threat. In response to this situation and the global war on terrorism, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been restructured to combat domestic insurgencies, most of which are based on the southern island of Mindanao: the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Jemaah
Islamiyah, and the Communist Party of the Philippines’ New People’s Army (NPA). In addition, the loyalty of the military to the government remains in doubt, following an unsuccessful coup by a renegade faction of the AFP in July 2003.

Terrorism: The Philippines faces an indigenous terrorist threat from several organizations: the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), and the communist New People’s Army (NPA). The MILF and ASG, which aspire to establish an Islamic state on Mindanao, are reputed to have links to al Qaeda. The MILF, which has engaged in sporadic peace negotiations with the government and has some moderate elements, is the largest of the groups, with about 10,000 to 11,000 soldiers. The more militant ASG, after being forced to abandon its stronghold on the island of Basilan by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has regrouped on Jolo. About 400 guerrillas now are affiliated with the group, about
half the original level before its confrontation with the Philippine military. Jemaah Islamiyah, an al Qaeda affiliate active in Indonesia but with branches across Southeast Asia, allegedly failed to execute plans to bomb ceremonies marking the inauguration of the new Philippine government in June 2004. The NPA, the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has about 3,000 guerrillas on Mindanao.

Human Rights:
According to a U.S. Department of State report released in March 2006, Philippine security forces have been responsible for serious human rights abuses despite the efforts of civilian authorities to control them. The report found that although the government generally respected human rights, some security forces elements—particularly the Philippine National Police—practiced extrajudicial killings, vigilantism, disappearances, torture, and
arbitrary arrest and detention in their battle against criminals and terrorists. Prison conditions were harsh, and the slow judicial process as well as corrupt police, judges, and prosecutors impaired due process and the rule of law. Besides criminals and terrorists, human rights activists, left-wing political activists, and Muslims were sometimes the victims of improper police conduct. Violence against women and abuse of children remained serious problems, and some children were pressed into slave labor and prostitution.