USDOS – US Department of State (Autor)
Overview: The ability of terrorist groups, such as Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Jemaah Islamiya (JI), and the New People’s Army, to conduct terrorist activities inside the Philippines continued to decline. The Philippine government, with U.S. support, has kept constant pressure on terrorist groups, even as their security services were stretched thin by other demands, such as carrying out humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and providing security for the national election in May. The election of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III did not result in major changes to counterterrorism policy, and his new administration has continued strong counterterrorism cooperation with the United States.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: Capturing the true picture of terrorist incidents in the Philippines is difficult – kidnappings, grenade attacks, and other acts of violence often seem indiscriminate and most remain unsolved. In addition, during the periods before the nationwide elections in May and the village elections in October, there was an upsurge in violence by terrorist groups against political candidates and the general populace to influence the elections. Notable 2010 terrorist incidents included:
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Philippines law enforcement personnel continued vigorous efforts to arrest terrorists and eliminate safe havens and closely coordinated efforts with U.S. law enforcement officers. The Philippine Department of Justice filed a petition with the Regional Trial Court in Basilan for the proscription of the ASG as a terrorist group and 202 identified associates as terrorists. The petition was pending at year’s end.
JI associate Zulkipli bin Abdul Hir, aka Marwan, and ASG commander Isnilon Hapilon appeared on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list at numbers 29 and 17, respectively, and were believed to be in the Philippines along with other wanted ASG members. The Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), PNP, and AFP were each cognizant of the high-profile terrorist fugitives in the Philippines and provided reasonable and consistent attempts to locate and apprehend them.
Significant law enforcement actions and the Philippine judiciary response included:
Countering Terrorist Finance: Legislation amending the anti-money laundering law to criminalize terrorist finance as a stand-alone offense was pending in the Philippine Congress at year’s end. The Philippines is a member of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. The Philippines is likewise a member of the Egmont Group of financial intelligence units (FIUs). The Philippines’ FIU must obtain a court order to freeze assets, including those of terrorists and terrorist organizations placed on the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee’s consolidated list and the lists of foreign governments. This requirement was inconsistent with the international standard, which calls for the preventative freezing of terrorist assets “without delay” from the time of designation.
Regional and International Cooperation: In 2010, the Philippines ratified the 2007 ASEAN Convention on Counterterrorism. The Philippines hosted the Third U.S.-ASEAN Senior Official’s Dialogue on Transnational Crime in October.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: In 2010, the Philippine government launched a counter-radicalization program called Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan or PAMANA (Resilient Communities in Conflict Affected Communities). This was President Aquino’s flagship program on peace-building, reconstruction, and development in more than 5,000 conflict-affected areas in the country. Activities included addressing the needs of internally displaced people, reintegrating former combatants, and development programs. Additionally, the AFP developed and adopted a Civil Relations Doctrine that is the first of its kind. The AFP conducted operations to counter violent extremism, including through radio programs, public service announcements, a “junior hero program,” and publication of a comic book with anti-extremist themes. The PNP also sought to expand its Community Relations Group to address at-risk groups prone to radicalization.