• The Philippines is a multi-party democracy with an elected president and legislature, and an active civil society sector. The government in 2012 adopted important legislation improving reproductive health and domestic workers rights and making enforced disappearances a criminal offense, as well as seeking ways to improve the criminal justice system. Extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances have decreased since President Benigno S. Aquino III took office in 2010. However, harassment and violence implicating military and police personnel against political activists and journalists continue. The country has a vibrant media, but free expression suffered a serious setback when Congress passed a law allowing stiff criminal sentences for online defamation.
  • Police officers at the crime scene of the murder of Rogelio Butalid, a broadcast commentator, outside his radio station in Tagum City, in the southern Philippines on December 11, 2013. A witness told Human Rights Watch that a Tagum Death Squad member shot Butalid at point-blank range.
    The Philippine government should investigate an alleged “death squad” implicated in several hundred killings in Tagum City on the southern island of Mindanao, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Official police records obtained by Human Rights Watch show 298 killings between January 2007 and March 2013 that provincial police attributed to the “Tagum Death Squad,” and for which no one has been prosecuted.

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Philippines