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Country Reports
THE PHILIPPINES, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: The Philippines deposited its instrument of ratification on 15 February 2000. Increased hostilities in 2000 have included the use of antipersonnel mines or improvised explosive devices by three rebel groups: Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf, and New People’s Army.

Government Mine Ban Policy

The Philippines signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997. On 10 January 2000 the Philippine Senate ratified the Mine Ban Treaty. In his sponsorship speech, Senator Francisco Tatad, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the treaty is a milestone in the disarmament process: “With the signing of the Convention, the landmine issue which was considered primarily a disarmament issue was transformed into a humanitarian concern and a human rights issue.” He added that “small countries like the Philippines could make a difference in international affairs and the success of the Ottawa Process was a humbling experience for big powers such as the U.S. which bitterly opposed it.”[1]

The instrument of ratification was deposited with the Secretary-General of the UN on 15 February 2000. The treaty will enter into force for the Philippines on 1 August 2000.

The Philippines attended the First Meeting of State Parties held in Maputo in May 1999 as a signatory state. The Philippines participated in Intersessional Standing Committee of Experts meetings on mine clearance in September 1999, on mine action technologies in May 2000 and on general status of the convention in May 2000 in Geneva. The Philippines voted in favor of the December 1999 UN General Assembly resolution in support of the Mine Ban Treaty, as it had for similar resolutions in 1997 and 1998.

The Philippines is a party to Amended Protocol II (Landmines) of the Convention on Conventional Weapons. It attended and submitted its Article 13 transparency report to the First Annual Conference of States Parties to the amended protocol in December 1999 in Geneva. The Philippines is not a member of the Conference on Disarmament.

Rebel Groups’ Mine Ban Policies

Although landmine use by both rebel and government forces was effectively banned under cease-fire and human rights agreements among the parties, many of these agreements were rescinded in 1999 and 2000 due to the breakdown of negotiations and resumption of fighting. The first half of 2000 thus witnessed increased rebel activity, including landmine use by three rebel groups: Abu Sayyaf, New People’s Army (NPA), and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Two other groups, the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas (RPM-P) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), continue to observe pledges not to use mines.

Abu Sayyaf

The Abu Sayyaf (Bearer of the Sword) is a radical Islamic armed group that claims it is waging a jihad against the government. It openly engages in kidnappings and bombings and embraces the use of landmines.


The New People’s Army is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF). Prior agreements between the government and CPP-NDF specifically provided the right of both parties not to be subjected to indiscriminate bombings and the use of landmines. The NPA used antipersonnel mines regularly in the past. Peace negotiations with the CPP-NDF were suspended in a dispute over the Senate ratification of the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States. The suspension spurred renewed clashes between government troops and the NPA. The NPA raided police and military camps, kidnapped high-ranking military officials, and ambushed military convoys with the aid of mines.


The Moro Islamic Liberation Front withdrew from peace talks in April 2000 after government troops assaulted a main rebel camp. The MILF has subsequently made use of antipersonnel mines in its clashes with government troops.

The MILF formally agreed in 1997 to stop the use of antipersonnel mines. The MILF’s 1997 policy on landmine use was reiterated in the Geneva conference on Non-State Actors on 24-25 March 2000, just prior to the outbreak of hostilities. MILF representative Atty. Lanang Ali announced that “except in strictly ‘defensive and discriminate’ use of landmines for the defense, preservation or survival of the MILF and the Bangsamoro people, with due regards to the safety and right of innocent people to live a full life, and not to kill, injure or harm those who do not fight, the MILF has adopted internal regulations prohibiting the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of antipersonnel mines.”[2] It also noted that it had strictly observed the provision in the November 1997 Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities, which identified the use of landmines among the prohibited hostile acts.[3]

The MILF “prohibition” was clearly only a partial restriction: “If needed for defense (self preservation), the MILF/BIAF [Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the MILF armed wing], will use antipersonnel mines, but discriminately, only when the need of it arises or as the situation dictates, and upon order of the concerned MILF Commander on the ground during actual combat. MILF/BIAF APMs and ATMs, foreign and home-made, are command-detonated, tripwire, pressured triggered, or any of it (sic).”[4]

Stating that its use of APMs is strictly in accordance with Islamic rules and disciplines, the MILF prohibited the following:

  • the indiscriminate use of APMs even during armed conflict
  • the participation of minors, women, and unauthorized members or civilians in the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of APMs;
  • the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of APMs near population centers, places of worship, schools, business establishments, residential areas, farm and farm-to-market roads, and even areas inhabited by working animals;
  • the use, etc., of AP mines without order or clearance from the MILF Commander on the ground during actual combat when the enemy attacks the MILF camp;
  • the use, etc., of APMs outside MILF camps, except when needed for the defense of MILF camps and upon clearance from the Chief of Staff of the BIAF.[5]

The MILF ordered the strict monitoring of APMs with location maps and visible signs indicating “Mined Areas – Keep OUT.”[6]

On 27 March 2000, the MILF signed and deposited a Deed of Commitment for adherence to a total ban on antipersonnel mines with Geneva Call, a Swiss-registered non-governmental and nonpartisan body. Under the “Deed of Commitment under Geneva Call for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action,” the MILF committed itself not to use antipersonnel landmines under any circumstances. This commitment has not been kept.


The Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas (RPM-P) and its armed wing, the Revolutionary Proletarian Party-Alex Boncayao Briagade (RPA-ABB), both splinter groups from the CPP, in meetings with the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines, pledged to renounce the use of landmines.[7] Stating that the use of AP mines has proven to be extremely prejudicial to the lives and safety of civilians, and destructive to properties and the environment, the RPM-P/RPA-ABB declared its opposition to the use and production of AP mines and gave full support to the global campaign to ban mines. On 27 March 2000, the RPM-P/RPA-ABB also signed and deposited the Deed of Commitment for adherence to a total ban on antipersonnel mines with Geneva Call.


The peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front continued to hold as of May 2000.

Production, Transfer, and Stockpiling

The Philippines does not produce antipersonnel mines, though it may have been a minor producer in the past.[8] It has never exported mines. It imported Claymore-type mines from the U.S. in the past. The government states that it destroyed its entire stockpile of mines in 1997.

Rebel groups fabricate improvised explosive devices and homemade mines. (See below, and see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 421-422). It is not possible to assess the holdings of the various rebel groups. There have been reports of attempts by rebel groups to acquire mines from other sources. Citing a guerrilla source, a newspaper reported in February 1999 that the MILF was awaiting an arms shipment from Afghanistan. Among other items, the shipment allegedly contained landmines.[9] A report the following month indicated that the clandestine shipment already slipped into the country on 15 March 1999. The arms shipment was allegedly funded by Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden. However, MILF political affairs chief Ghazali Jaafar denied having received any shipment and insisted that they manufacture their own weapons.[10]


There is no evidence of use of antipersonnel mines by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the fighting in 1999 and 2000.

The AFP’s summary of landmine incidents from January to June 2000 lists six incidents attributed to the MILF, with landmines found or exploded in Maguindanao and Cotabato provinces, resulting the death of two soldiers and injuries to fourteen soldiers and three civilians. Two incidents are attributed to the Abu Sayyaf, both during the Basilan hostage crisis, resulting in injuries to two soldiers, including one who lost both legs.[11] Another incident on 26 June, in which twelve soldiers died, is attributed to the NPA.[12]

A highly reliable source in the MNLF has also admitted that to defend and preserve the MILF in the recent AFP offensives, the MILF has planted victim-activated antipersonnel mines in certain “no man’s land” zones in the defense perimeter of its main camp in Central Mindanao. The Philippine Campaign has pointed out that such victim-activated mines are not “discriminate” because they can victimize non-combatants who might stray into the area.[13]

Landmine victim Corporal Jurelyn Gargoles of the Sixth Infantry Battalion described the heavy fortification of an MILF satellite camp in Langkong, Matanog, Maguindanao. On 13 May 2000 the AFP launched offensives against the camp. It took them six hours to penetrate because of the landmines used as perimeter defense of the camps. Sgt. Gargoles described the mines as very difficult to detect. There were no signs of freshly disturbed earth or visible parts of a planted mine. The landmines had already blended well with the surroundings, an indication that the mines had been there for quite sometime. Corporal Gargoles recalled that they were under fire and his first reaction was to take cover behind a tree. When he did so, Corporal Gargoles activated a homemade mine tied at the base of the tree. The explosion severely damaged his right femur and he sustained shrapnel wounds around his body.[14]

In the Sipadan island kidnapping incident in May 2000, the Abu Sayyaf group allegedly used landmines to slow down the rescue operations conducted by AFP troops. The Abu Sayyaf, composed mostly of young Muslims, operates in Basilan, Sulu, and the Zamboanga peninsula. The Abu Sayyaf kidnapped nineteen foreigners and two Filipinos in a beach resort in Sipadan Island, Malaysia on 23 April 2000 and brought them to Talipao, Jolo, Sulu. Some villagers in Barangay Bilaan, Talipao reportedly fled their homes after witnessing members of the Abu Sayyaf planting and even test-blasting landmines.[15]

Following a military offensive launched against the Abu Sayyaf’s main camp on 25 April 2000, landmines were discovered planted as perimeter defense. The Abu Sayyaf reportedly claimed that government troops suffered casualties due to landmines. The AFP, on its part, said that bad weather conditions and landmines hampered their pursuit operations.[16] Sergeant Armando Villanueva of the First Scout Ranger Regiment described how they discovered the newly planted homemade mines. They noticed freshly dug earth while maneuvering towards the camp of the Abu Sayyaf in Punoh Mahajid, Sumisip, Basilan. A thorough examination of the area revealed some of the homemade landmines. Since it was very dangerous to demine the area, they were left with no option but to only mark it with sticks. They tied a piece of white cloth to the tip of the stick as a warning sign to other troops. Sergeant Villanueva stepped on a landmine that day, and lost both his legs. [17]

The New People’s Army is reported to have used homemade landmines, especially antivehicle mines, recently. On 27 June 2000, the NPA reportedly used an antivehicle mine against a military truck to set off the ambush which killed an Army brigade commander and twelve soldiers in Isabela province in northern Philippines.[18] Another NPA-staged ambush on 4 July in Oriental Mindoro, Southern Tagalog region, used a landmine that exploded a police van. The rebels then open fired on the van and a second accompanying vehicle, leading the death of eight policemen.[19]

Three months earlier, in a staged ambush against local police in Sablayan town, Occidental Mindoro, Southern Luzon on 12 April 2000, two policemen were killed while three others were seriously wounded in the ambush that included the use of mines. “The troops were in the area to find the NPA stronghold and retrieve landmines that the NPA planted in some isolated areas of Sablayan and Calintaan towns,” Occidental Mindoro Police Deputy Winston Ebersole said in an interview by journalists.[20]

In an interview with the Philippine Campaign, Ka Dorie, a former NPA rebel in Northern Mindanao admitted that they used landmines in their operations, especially in planned ambushes. Materials used were commercially available. Detonators, she said in the local language, “are easily improvised.”[21] According to Ka Dorie, landmine use by the NPA in Northern Mindanao, Southern Philippines declined in recent years since the death of their landmine “expert” in an encounter.

Sometime in 1998, the Fourth Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro City filed a complaint at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)-Butuan City against the NPA for their use of "homemade" mines. The complaint, which documented cases of victims of landmines in the Infantry Division’s area of operations in the northern and other parts of Eastern Mindanao, has not been acted on to date.[22]

Mine Clearance

The AFP reported the recovery of landmines and landmine paraphernalia from encounters with Moro rebels in Basilan and Cotabato, as follows: six 12-ounce bottles of homemade landmines; homemade landmines made of nineteen sticks of super dyne explosives, four blasting caps and four pieces of BA 30 batteries; and an improvised pressure release-type antitank landmine.[23]

The military conducted clearing operations immediately after the MILF rebels pulled out of their Talayan town hall siege last January 2000. Bomb experts were dispatched to remove landmines allegedly planted by the rebels along portions of the highway linking Cotabato and General Santos City. Metal detectors were used in the demining operations.

The Philippine Army Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in a Letter Directive dated 5 November 1999 prescribes guidelines and procedures for the granting of Special Promotions to Enlisted Personnel (EP) and cash rewards for the recovery of enemy combat equipment. A provision in the directive specifically grants cash rewards of P1,000 (equivalent to $25) for every landmine recovered in a combat operation. A bigger reward is given for high-powered weapons. The directive took effect on 1 January 2000.[24]

Mine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

There are no comprehensive statistics on landmine victims. Except for battle/special reports submitted to the J3 (Operations Division of the AFP) and occasional newspaper reports, no other data sources on landmine victims are available. Military hospital records do not give information on the nature or cause of a surgical case.[25]

The AFP report on landmine incidents from 1 January to 23 June 2000 identifies twenty-one casualties: two military personnel killed, sixteen military personnel injured, and three civilians injured.[26] In a letter to the ICBL dated 30 June 2000, the Secretary of National Defense Orlando S. Mercado indicated that an additional twelve soldiers died on 26 June after the NPA used a landmine against them.[27]

As of March 2000, the MILF claimed that there had been no civilian casualties or victims of landmines blamed on to the MILF/BIAF “due to strict precautionary measures, secrecy and proper monitoring undertaken by BIAF commanders, considering that the MILF is a mass-based resistance.”[28] However, the major offensives on MILF camps in the succeeding months revealed landmines planted in camp perimeters. Three civilians and fourteen soldiers were injured, and two soldiers died, in the six landmine incidents from April to June 2000 attributed to the MILF.[29]

In an interview, the NPA’s Ka Dorie admitted that civilians were not spared from the landmines NPA planted. She vividly recalled an incident in Misamis Oriental wherein a woman and her two children accidentally stepped on an improvised landmine while they were gathering kamote (sweet potatoes). They died instantly. The NPA unit in the area deeply regretted the incident but denied responsibility for what happened.[30]

Military station hospitals do not have the facilities and funds to make their own prosthetics and implants. They have to refer their patients to the AFP Medical Center (AFPMC) in Quezon City.[31]

Wounded AFP personnel, according to Operation Officer of the AFP-MC Major Majubaldo Malupeng, will receive Disability Benefits from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). The amount depends on the category of the injuries. They will also receive funds from the Mutual Benefits Association, Inc., an insurance company of the AFP. President Estrada also gave the wounded soldiers in the recent fighting in Mindanao 20,000 pesos each and promised educational plans for their children. They were also promised scholarships for computer training in the event that they can no longer serve as combatants.[32]


[1] Senator Francisco Tatad’s Sponsorship Speech, “Let’s Take Out All The Landmines Now,” 10 November 1999.
[2] “MILF Official Declaration on the International Campaign to Ban Antipersonnel Mines,” signed by MILF Central Committee Vice-Chairman for Political Affairs Ghazali Jaafar, 13 March 2000, Camp Abubakar, Maguindanao, Mindanao.
[3] Ibid.
[4] “MILF Views on Landmine Use,” signed by MILF Central Committee Vice-Chairman for Political Affairs Ghazali Jaafar, on 13 March 2000, Camp Abubakar, Maguindanao, Mindanao.
[5] “MILF Internal Regulations on the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines,” signed by Ghazali Jaafar.
[6] Ibid.
[7] This pledge was made public in the conference, “Engaging Non-State Actors in a Landmine Ban: A Pioneering Conference,” hosted by the Swiss Campaign to Ban Landmines, in cooperation with the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines and a number of other national mine ban campaigns, Geneva, 24-25 March 2000. A full report of the conference is available from the Swiss CBL, ereusse@worldcom.ch.
[8] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 421.
[9] Nonoy E. Lacson, "MILF awaits arms shipment from Afghanistan," Tempo ONLINE, 22 February 1999. The report said the arms would be delivered aboard a foreign vessel named M/V Alkeen Perdaba to Surabaya in Indonesia. From there, the shipment would be escorted by MILF division commanders to Tawau district in Sabah, Malaysia. The arms would then be transferred and distributed to dozens of pumpboats and delivered to ten remote coastal areas in Sarangani and Davao del Sur. The military identified these areas as Tinoto, Maasim, Mindupok, Maitum, Malapatan and Colan, all in Sarangani province; Tibungko and Toril in Davao City; Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur; and at the Matimus Point. MILF chair Hashim Salamat reportedly ordered fifty mujahideens to guard each of the designated unloading site in Central Mindanao to ensure that the arms will reach their destinations.
[10] “Secret arms shipment slips into Mindanao,” Tempo ONLINE, March 20, 1999.
[11] Memorandum for the Secretary of National Defense, Subject: Landmine-Related Incidents, from the AFP Chief of Staff, signed by Maj. Gen. Antonio C. Santos, OJ3 (received by the DND on 28 July 2000).
[12] Letter from Secretary of National Defense Orlando S. Mercado to Coordinator, ICBL, 30 June 2000.
[13] Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines, “Preliminary Report and Statement on the Recent Landmine Incidents in the Mindanao Conflict: Coming to a Higher Level of Attention and Engagement,” 30 June 2000.
[14] Interview with Corporal Jurelyn Gargoles, Heroes Ward, AFP Medical Center, 1 June 2000.
[15] Noralyn Mustafa et. al., “Foreigners threatened with beheading if...,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 29 April 2000, p.1, 16.
[16] Chandler E. Ramas III, “AFP closes in on Abu’s main camp,” Philippine Post, 24 April 2000, p.1, A14.
[17] Interview with Sergeant Armando Villanueva, Heroes Ward, Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center, 1 June 2000.
[18] Villamor Visaya, Jr., “Colonel, 12 soldiers die in ambush,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 26 June 2000, p.1.
[19] Joel Jabal, “NPA rebels kill 8 cops in Mindoro ambush,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 6 July 2000.
[20] Joel Jabal, “Mindoro NPAs strike, kill 2 cops,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 14 April 2000, p.15.
[21] Interview with Enercita Lopez, aka Ka Dorie, a former regular member of the New People’s Army for 18 years, Cagayan de Oro City, 3 January 2000.
[22] Interview with Maj. Johnny Macanas, 4ID spokesman and Assistant Chief of Staff, G7 Civil-Military Operations, Fourth Infantry Division, Camp Edilberto Evangelista, Cagayan de Oro City, 4 January 2000.
[23] Memorandum for the Secretary of National Defense, Subject: Landmine-Related Incidents, from the AFP Chief of Staff, signed by Maj. Gen. Antonio C. Santos, OJ3 (received by the DND on 28 July 2000).
[24] “Special Promotion, Cash Rewards for Recovered Enemy Combat Equipment,” Headquarters Philippine Army Directive dated 5 November 1999.
[25] Phone interview with Maj. Edwin Bautista (MC) PA, Executive Officer Camp Evangelista Station Hospital, Cagayan de Oro City, 3 January 2000.
[26] Memorandum for the Secretary of National Defense, Subject: Landmine-Related Incidents, from the AFP Chief of Staff, signed by Maj. Gen. Antonio C. Santos, OJ3 (received by the DND on 28 July 2000).
[27] Letter from Secretary of National Defense Orlando S. Mercado to Coordinator, ICBL, 30 June 2000.
[28] “MILF Views on Landmine Use,” signed by MILF Central Committee Vice-Chairman for Political Affairs Ghazali Jaafar, on 13 March 2000, Camp Abubakar, Maguindanao, Mindanao.
[29] Memorandum for the Secretary of National Defense, Subject: Landmine-Related Incidents, 28 July 2000.
[30] Interview with Enercita Lopez, aka Ka Dorie, Cagayan de Oro City, 3 January 2000.
[31] Phone interview with Maj. Edwin Bautista (MC) PA, Executive Officer Camp Evangelista Station Hospital, Cagayan de Oro City, 3 January 2000.
[32] Interview with Major Majubaldo Malupeng, Operations Officer, AFP Medical Center, 1 June 2000.