Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2023, 12:44 GMT

State of the World's Minorities 2008 - The Philippines

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 11 March 2008
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2008 - The Philippines, 11 March 2008, available at: [accessed 23 May 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Philippines government's 35-year confrontation with Muslim separatists on its southern islands continued in 2007, despite ongoing peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). According to a July 2007 Human Rights Watch report, violent Islamist groups in the Philippines have killed or injured more than 1,700 people in bombings and other attacks since 2000. President Arroyo has received significant US military support for her campaign against militants in Mindanao, and around 120,000 people have been uprooted by the fighting on the island. Government crackdowns against both the MILF and MNLF in 2007 have displaced some 40,000 civilians on the island of Jolo and 7,000 in Basilan. Some hope was held out for peace in 2008, after the signing of a demarcation agreement in November between the government and the MILF to set boundaries for a Muslim homeland.

In 2007, 10 years after the granting of a form of autonomy for the Moro in parts of Mindanao, restrictions remain on teaching in Moro languages in public schools or use of the languages as co-official or working languages of administration. Given the very large numbers of non-native Filipino-speakers and their concentration in parts of Mindanao, this language policy continues to create a very real obstacle to the full participation of Moro Muslims in the country's public and political life.

In March 2007 the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people noted that the efforts deployed by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to promote the recognition of Certificates of Ancestral Domain continues to be underfunded, and the rate at which titles are granted every year is still very limited in relation to the number of requests. However, even land recognized as indigenous under these certificates can still be lost to development projects, since they can be pursued if a certificate of 'Free, Prior and Informed Consent' (FPIC) is obtained from indigenous peoples. A number of indigenous groups have repeatedly claimed that they have been deceived, and some individuals have been threatened and even assassinated in the pursuit of FPICs. The Rapporteur noted that more than 75 cases of extra-judicial killings of indigenous individuals have been reported by NGOs recently, many of which have not been thoroughly investigated.

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