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Education under Attack 2010 - Philippines

Publisher UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
Publication Date 10 February 2010
Cite as UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Education under Attack 2010 - Philippines, 10 February 2010, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
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.

In 2007, a wave of extrajudicial killings, thought to number as many as 68, were carried out against left-wing political leaders including leaders of teachers associations.628 In addition, 259 cases of forced disappearance were registered.

A school principal suspected kidnapped by members of the Islamic separatist group, Abu Sayyaf, was found beheaded on 9 November 2009, after his family could not afford to pay the ransom demanded. Gabriel Canizares, principal of Kanague Elementary School, Patikul, was on board a passenger jeepney (minibus) with other teachers when they were stopped by a group of armed men on 19 October. He was the seventh state school teacher to be kidnapped in 2009. The Alliance of Concerned Teachers said the government's record on protecting teachers was "abysmal".629

In March 2009, gunmen seized three teachers from an elementary school in the village of Bangkaw-Bangkaw, Naga.630

On 23 January 2009, three teachers from Landang Gua Elementary School, Sacol Island, Zamboanga City, were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf. Quizon Freires, 28, Janette Delos Reyes, 29, and Rafael Mayonado, 24, were returning from a work trip in a boat with seven other teachers when the vessel was intercepted by four men with assault rifles. The captors demanded a $130,000 ransom and threatened to behead their prisoners.631

Following the incident, teachers in the area refused to go to work out of fear for their safety, and classes for 700 children had to be suspended. The military pledged to increase detachments to island villages, monitor teachers' travel to the island communities and place marshals on boats ferrying teachers.632 The four teachers were held for four months, but were released on 26 May 2009.

On 15 January 2008, gunmen, believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), abducted a teacher in Tawi-tawi.633

The ASG also recruited teenagers to fight and participate in its activities. There were reports that a significant number of ASG members staffing the group's camps were teenagers. Some Islamic schools in Mindanao reportedly served as fronts to indoctrinate children, and the ASG used children as couriers and spies.634

Use of children, some of them as young as 10 years old, was reported in other armed groups including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the National People's Army (though there is no information on whether they were recruited from or on their way to or from school). In September 2009, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a time-bound action plan to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers.635

Arbitrary and unlawful killings during 2007 included the 19 January murder of university professor Jose Maria Cui in Catarman, Northern Samar, by two unidentified persons. Cui was a member of Bayan Muna, a left-wing organization, and a former secretary-general of the human rights group KARAPATAN (Rights) in Eastern Samar. On 15 February 2007, Farly Alcantara, a student at the Camarines Norte State College and member of the militant League of Filipino Students, in Daet, Camarines Norte, was killed by an unidentified assailant.636

The teachers' union, ACT, reported that one female college professor was stabbed in 2005; a male teacher was shot by masked gunmen in 2006 as he was walking home from school; and, in 2007, a teacher was shot dead in front of his students.637

Karen Empeno and Sheryn Cadapan, two students from the Centre of Nationalist Studies at the University of Philippines, were abducted at gunpoint by a suspected military attachment in Hagonoy, Bulacan, on 26 June 2006. Empeno was doing research on the plight of farmers for her sociology thesis, according to her family. The left-wing League of Filipino Students claimed Empeno as a member. Cadapan was a community organizer for the youth movement, Anakbayan.638 Two captured farmers, released by the military, said they met the two students in army custody. One farmer has testified that he saw them raped and tortured by soldiers and that soldiers later told him they had been killed.639

There were four cases of military occupation and use of schools as temporary camps between September 2007 and December 2008. Soldiers from the Philippine Army set up camps in a primary school in Tubo town, Abra, and conducted aerial operations from the location in March 2008. Similar cases were reported in Lianga Municipality, Surigao del Sur Province and in Barangay Ngan, Compostela Valley Province, Southern Mindanao.640

[Refworld note: The source report "Education under Attack 2010" was posted on the UNESCO website ( in pdf format, with country chapters run together. Original footnote numbers have been retained here.]

628 FIDH, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2007 – Philippines (FIDH, 2008).

629 ABS-CBN News, "Kidnapped School Principal Beheaded in Jolo," November 9, 2009.

630 Mindanao Examiner, "Gunmen Seized 3 Teachers in Southern Philippines," March 13, 2009,

631 AFP, "Four (sic) Kidnapped Teachers Freed in Philippines: Police," May 26, 2009; Reuters, "Gunmen Abduct Three Teachers in Philippine South," January 23, 2009; and GMA News, "Report: Sayyaf Threatens to Behead 3 Abducted Teachers," May 19, 2009.

632 Rusty Ferguson, "Teachers Kidnapped in Mindanao," Living in the Philippines, January 27, 2009; and Sun*Star Network Online, "Zambo: No Ransom for Kidnapped Teachers," January 26, 2009.

633 US Department of State, 2008 Human Rights Report: Philippines (US Department of State, 2009).

634 Ibid.

635 Ibid.

636 US Department of State, 2007 Human Rights Report: Philippines (US Department of State, 2008).

637 Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), "Philippines 'Another Colombia' for Murdered Union Activists," May 15, 2009,

638 Mindanao Examiner, "Mothers of Disappeared Left to Seek Justice for Themselves: Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project," July 17, 2008; and T.J. Burgonio, "Families of 2 Missing UP Students Air Appeal," The Inquirer, July 11, 2006.

639 Thomas Bell, "900 People Killed in Philippines by 'Mysterious Death Squads'," The Telegraph, January 18, 2009.

640 UNSC, Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (2009), 25-26.

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