Philippines. At the beginning of the year, Parliament passed new legislation allowing the millions of Filipinos working abroad to vote in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.
According to Countryaah.com, Philippines Independence Day is June 12. The island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines was shaken during the year by several terrorist attacks suspected by Islamist groups. In March, at least 20 people were killed and hundreds injured when a bomb exploded at Davao Airport. The following month, 16 fatalities were claimed in an attack on a ferry terminal in the same city. In addition, another dozen people were killed in several other acts of violence. Authorities accused Moro’s Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is fighting to establish a Muslim state in Mindanao, for several of the attacks, something the MILF denied. The Jemaa Islamiyya terror network, which is believed to have ties to Usama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, was also said to be active in the Philippines and to have contacts with the MILF.
Although the government negotiated with and from the MILF, new reports of fighting between the guerrillas and the army came. There was information that the MILF had split into a faction that wants to negotiate and one that takes a less compromising line. In June, the MILF leaders withdrew from terror as weapons, which the government had demanded for new talks.
In the spring, the United States sent additional soldiers to the Philippines to fight another Islamist group, Abu Sayyaf. Information that US special forces would take part in combat was rejected in March by President Gloria Arroyo.
She traveled to the United States in May on a state visit. In connection with this visit, the United States continued to pledge military support of over $ 300 million. The money was seen as a reward for the Philippines’ support for the US “war on terrorism”.
From the summer, the left-wing guerrilla New People’s Army appeared to have intensified its attacks on the government army on the island of Luzon. In June, Roland Ulla managed to escape from Abu Sayyaf. He was one of 20 people kidnapped in 2000 by the guerrillas from a tourist resort in Malaysia.
About 300 soldiers, including some seventy younger officers, occupied a mall in Manila in July, demanding, among other things, the departure of the President and Minister of Defense. They accused high-ranking government and military officials of secretly selling weapons to Muslim and communist rebels in order to prolong the war and gain further foreign aid. The mythists gave up after 19 hours when they received no support from the army or the public.
The government appointed three independent commissions to investigate the allegations of the myths. The government treated the occupation as a coup attempt and prosecution was brought against over 1,000 people, including three co-workers of former President Joseph Estrada. Defense Minister Angelo Reyes resigned in August.
Indonesian Fathur Rohman al Ghozi, who was sentenced in 2002 to a long prison sentence for intervening in several bombings in Manila in 2000, managed to escape from prison in July. In October, police stated that al Ghozi had been killed in a fire.
Gloria Arroyo announced in October that she would run for president in spring 2004.
Heavy rainfall in December triggered several landslides on the islands of Leyte, Panay, Mindanao and Bohol. Over 200 people were killed. Illegal logging was considered to have contributed to the landslide.
Shortly thereafter, fifty people were suspected of having died in a ferry accident outside Palawan.
In December, President Arroyo decided to lift the temporary halt to executions introduced by her representative Joseph Estrada. The decision was made after several brutal kidnappings hit the influential Chinese minority.