Freedom in the World

Freedom in the World 2017

Philippines

Profile

Freedom Status: 
Partly Free
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Freedom in the World Scores

(0=Least Free, 100=Most Free)
(1=Most Free, 7=Least Free)

Quick Facts

Population: 
102,600,000
Capital: 
Manila
GDP/capita: 
$2,904
Press Freedom Status: 
Partly Free
Net Freedom Status: 
Free

Trend Arrow:

The Philippines received a downward trend arrow due to the thousands of extrajudicial killings carried out as part of newly elected president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, as well as assassinations and threats against civil society activists.

Overview: 

Governing infrastructure is well developed in the Philippines, but the rule of law and application of justice are haphazard and heavily favor ruling dynastic elites. Long-term violent insurgencies have continued for decades. Impunity remains the norm for crimes against activists and journalists, and newly elected president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has led to a surge in extrajudicial killings and vigilante justice.

Key Developments in 2016: 
  • Newly elected president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs saw the extrajudicial killing of more than 6,000 people in both police operations and at the hands of vigilantes.
  • Duterte’s threats against journalists and civil society activists exacerbated their already dangerous operating atmosphere.
  • In February, the Philippine Congress quashed the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), under which a new self-governing region, Bangsamoro, would replace and add territory to the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The BBL was the next critical step outlined in a landmark 2014 peace treaty between the previous administration of President Benigno Aquino and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest rebel group.
  • In July, Duterte issued an order establishing the country’s first freedom of information directive, though it only applied to the executive branch.
Executive Summary: 

Rodrigo Duterte was elected president in May 2016 after running on a law and order campaign. His ensuing war on drugs saw the extrajudicial killing of more than 6,000 people in both police operations and vigilante justice, which Duterte appeared to encourage. During the year Duterte also publicly threatened journalists and civil society activists, exacerbating an already dangerous environment. Three journalists were killed in 2016, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), though the motives for their murders was unclear. An environmental activist and two labor leaders were also killed during the year.

In December, Vice President Leni Robredo resigned as chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, a cabinet position, citing “major differences in principles and values” with Duterte. Robredo, who had voiced opposition to the drug war and other policy initiatives, stayed on as vice president.

In February, the Philippine Congress quashed the Bangsamoro Basic Law, under which a new self-governing region, Bangsamoro, would replace and add territory to the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The BBL was the next critical step outlined in a landmark 2014 peace treaty between the previous Aquino administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest rebel group. The lack of an agreement, which could have ended more than 40 years of separatist violence among Moros, as the region’s Muslim population is known, means that peace remained elusive even as the newly elected president’s peace team talked of creating a more inclusive replacement agreement in 2017.

In July 2016, the president issued an order establishing the country’s first freedom of information directive, though it applied solely to the executive branch. Separately, in an effort to address longstanding concerns about media freedom and the safety of journalists, in October Duterte issued an order creating the Presidential Task Force on Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty, and Security of the Members of the Media. However, it had yet to open a major investigation by year’s end.

Aggregate Score: 
63
Freedom Rating: 
3.0
Political Rights: 
3
Civil Liberties: 
3

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