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Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - Philippines

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 May 2013
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - Philippines, 30 May 2013, available at: [accessed 18 December 2017]
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.

Overview: The Philippines maintained its strong counterterrorism cooperation with the United States. The ability of terrorist groups, including the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Jemaah Islamiya (JI), and the Communist People's Party/New People's Army (CPP/NPA), to conduct terrorist activities inside the Philippines remained constrained. Terrorist groups' acts were generally limited to criminal activities designed to generate revenue for self-sustainment, such as kidnapping for ransom or extortion. Nonetheless, members of these groups were suspected to have carried out bombings against government, public, and private facilities, primarily in the central and western areas of Mindanao; others were linked to extortion operations in other parts of the country.

The Government of the Philippines continued to implement its 2011-2016 Internal Peace and Security Plan that calls for the transition of internal security functions from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to the Philippine National Police (PNP). The increasing role of the police in maintaining internal security in conflict-affected areas will permit the AFP to shift its focus to enhancing the country's maritime security and territorial defense capabilities.

On October 15, the peace panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which lays out a roadmap to a comprehensive peace agreement and calls for the creation of the Bangsamoro entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. A comprehensive peace agreement has the potential to improve peace and security in Mindanao.

2012 Terrorist Incidents: High-profile terrorist incidents included:

  • On May 31, an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in front of the residence of Isabela City Mayor Santos-Akbar, wounding two civilians.

  • On July 26, nine soldiers were killed and 12 wounded when the AFP clashed with militants in Sumisip on the island of Basilan. Five militants were reportedly killed in the incident.

  • On August 16, a bomb destroyed a city bus in Zamboanga City, injuring at least seven. A second bomb exploded an hour later in front of a nearby mosque. No one was injured in the second blast.

  • On September 1, 48 civilians were injured when a grenade exploded during a village fiesta in Paquibato District outside of Davao City. The NPA later issued an apology for the attack, claiming the grenade was thrown at an AFP detachment but bounced off some netting and landed inside an adjacent basketball gym where a circus was being held.

  • On October 11, an IED exploded near the entrance of Maxandrea Hotel in downtown Cagayan de Oro City, killing two civilians after police arrived to investigate suspicious activity reported in the area. A second IED was found in a street adjacent to the hotel, but was safely detonated.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Philippines coordinated with U.S. law enforcement authorities, especially regarding U.S. fugitives and suspected terrorists. An under-resourced and understaffed law enforcement and justice system coupled with widespread official corruption, however, resulted in limited domestic investigations, unexecuted arrest warrants, few prosecutions, and lengthy trials of cases.

A petition filed in 2010 by the Philippine Department of Justice with the Regional Trial Court in Basilan for the proscription of the ASG as a terrorist group and 202 identified associates as terrorists, was pending action at year's end.

  • On February 2, the AFP launched an operation on Jolo Island that reportedly killed ASG commander Umbra Jumdail (aka Dr. Abu) and 14 other ASG members.

  • On May 23, Philippine National Police Officer Arnold Mayo was charged with murder. Witnesses reportedly identified him as planting a bomb that exploded inside a commuter bus on a major highway in Makati City and killed five passengers in January 2011.

  • On June 21, Alawie Pasihul was arrested in Zamboanga City on suspicion of being part of an ASG group that kidnapped American citizens Martin and Gracia Burnham and Guillermo Sobero in May 2001. (Fourteen other ASG members were convicted in 2007 and sentenced to life imprisonment for their participation in the kidnapping that resulted in the deaths of Sobero, Martin Burnham, and Philippine nurse Ediborah Yap.)

  • In September, due to a technical issue, a regional trial court in Manila dismissed the extradition case against an ASG leader wanted in the United States to stand trial on criminal hostage-taking charges in the 1993 kidnapping of U.S. national Charles Walton.

  • On December 14, Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar, a suspected Malaysian JI member, was killed in Davao by police after he threatened to detonate an explosive device in his backpack.

The Philippines continued to improve the security of its passports. Beginning in 2007, the Philippines started to issue machine readable passports. Three million such passports remained in circulation at year's end, the last of which will expire in 2013. In August 2009, the Philippines started to produce "e-passports" containing a biometric chip. Six million Philippine passports in circulation are e-passports, accounting for 65 percent of all valid passports, according to the Philippines Passport Office.

The Philippines remained an important partner nation in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program, which provided tactical and investigative training to support the transition in the southern Philippines from military to civilian counterterrorism authority.

Countering Terrorist Finance: The Philippines is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Republic Act No. 10168, the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, was signed into law June 18 and took effect July 5. The law made terrorist financing a stand-alone crime in line with APG/FATF recommendations and specifically authorizes the Anti-Money Laundering Council to issue an ex parte order to freeze without delay property/funds related to the financing of terrorism or acts of terrorism, including the property/funds of individuals and entities on the UNSCs 1267/1989 and 1988 consolidated lists.

Republic Act No. 10167, which amended the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, was signed into law June 18 and took effect July 6. It allows the Anti-Money Laundering Council to inquire into bank accounts based on an ex parte application, without the depositor's knowledge for a limited period of time, and allows additional courts other than the Court of Appeals to issue asset freeze orders.

There is no single supervisory authority responsible for entities in the non-profit sector; coordination is insufficient. Monitoring is weak due to insufficient coordination and resources of non-profit organization regulatory bodies.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: The Philippines participated in the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) and supported the ADMM-Plus Experts' Working Group on Counterterrorism that met in Washington in April. Through U.S.-sponsored counterterrorism training, the PNP developed contacts with law enforcement agencies in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Philippine government continued its counter-radicalization program: Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan or PAMANA (Resilient Communities in Conflict Affected Communities). In November, the Philippines hosted the second meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum Southeast Asia Working Group, which focused on youth radicalization. Experts from around the region and world gathered to share best practices and experiences in countering youth radicalization.

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