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Philippines

Last Updated: 05 August 2011

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

The Philippines is affected by explosive remnants of war (ERW), especially unexploded ordnance (UXO), as a result of long-running, low-level insurgencies by the New People’s Army (NPA) and other non-state armed groups, mainly in Mindanao. The extent to which it is also affected by mines is unclear.

Mines

The Philippines has consistently denied in its Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 reports that it has any mined areas containing antipersonnel mines and says that whenever mines or improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are found they are immediately removed. However, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have claimed that the NPA continued to use antipersonnel mines in 2010.[1] Most incidents attributed to the NPA involved IEDs. The NPA has denied using mines, but acknowledges that it continues to use “command-detonated explosives” in attacks on government security forces.[2] 

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2008 signed the “Rebel Group Declaration of Adherence to International Humanitarian Law on Landmines” which also committed it to not use antipersonnel mines.[3] A Geneva Call verification mission in November 2009 found there were “substantial grounds for concluding that there may have been” MILF involvement in two series of incidents in Mindanao in 2008–2009 although it found no evidence that MILF leaders knew of, or condoned, potential antipersonnel mine use.[4]

Explosive remnants of war

Mindanao is affected mainly by UXO resulting from conflict between the government and Muslim rebels that dates back more than 30 years but continues to cause casualties. A 16-year-old farm boy was reportedly wounded by UXO in Pikit, North Cotabato, on 20 December 2010[5] and four children were injured, three of them seriously, when an UXO exploded at an evacuation site in Barangay Muslim, Guindulungan, Maguindanao, on 28 January 2011.[6]

The AFP says that 30% of total ordnance in Mindanao is UXO, and a similar percentage of MILF ordnance may remain as UXO in the area. Fighting between armed groups associated with the MILF in Barangay Muslim, Guindulungan, Maguindanao in December 2010 may have resulted in more UXO contamination in the area (see above).[7] Mindanao also has some ERW remaining from World War II; for example, a bomb from that era was found in the Rio Grande de Mindanao in Cotabato in January 2010. [8]

Mine Action Program

The Philippines has no formal program for dealing with mines, IEDs, or ERW. Clearance has been conducted by a range of government actors, including the AFP and the police. 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) reported in 2007 it had deployed five explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technicians in each of Mindanao’s 11 provinces to deal with bomb attacks.[9] In addition, the army, navy, air force, and the PNP each have EOD units deployed in areas of armed conflict such as Jolo and Cotabato to dispose of IEDs and UXO after armed hostilities occur.[10]

For example, the AFP’s Office of Civil Defense reported in August 2008 that it conducted mine clearance operations in Aleosan, North Cotabato, and Mindanao before allowing people displaced by war to return home.

Government negotiators and the MILF agreed in May 2010 to implement guidelines that provide for clearance of mines and UXO in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao by the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD).[11] The agreement provided the basis for FSD in partnership with the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines to develop a proposal for clearance and to approach donors.[12]

Other Risk Reduction Measures

The AFP says it conducts EOD training and bomb threat prevention seminars every year to military and civilian personnel as part of a risk education program.[13] In April 2011, PNP and United States EOD experts provided training for police in southern Mindanao in explosive ordnance reconnaissance and response, including marking suspected hazards.[14]

 



[1] “Landmine Incidents (1 April 2010 to 21 February 2011),” received from the AFP Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, J3, 28 February 2011.

[2] “CPP dares AFP to file case before JMC and international bodies over land mine use,” Press release, Information Bureau, Communist Party of the Philippines, philippinerevolution.net, 26 January 2011, www.philippinerevolution.net.

[3] “MILF commits anew to International Humanitarian Law on Landmines,” Pinoy Press, 11 November 2008, www.pinoypress.net.

[4] Geneva Call, “Geneva Call Verification Mission in the Philippines finds evidence of AP mine use, but MILF responsibility nor established,” Press release, 26 March 2010, www.genevacall.org.

[5] “Farm boy wounded by unexploded ordnance,” Mindanao Times, 23 December 2010, www.mindanaotimes.net.

[6] Email from Cliff Alvarico, Field Associate, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Cotabato Field Office, Cotabato City, 28 January 2011.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Edwin O. Fernandez, “Fisherman finds ‘live’ vintage bomb in river,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 26 January 2010, newsinfo.inquirer.net.

[9] Telephone interview with Warlito Tubon, Police Senior Superintendent, EOD Logistics Support Services, PNP, 2 April 2008.

[10] Interview with Maj. Jesus Jeffrey Grapa, AFP, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, 10 May 2007.

[11] Cynthia Balana, “RP, MILF negotiators sign accord on mine clearing, refugees,” Inquirer.net, Manila, 6 May 2010, newsinfo.inquirer.net; see also Office of the Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process, “AHJAG chair: Clearing and disposing of landmines, unexploded ordnance a herculean job,” Office of the President, opapp.gov.ph.

[12] Telephone interview with Valeria Fabbroni, Deputy Director of Operations, FSD, 17 May 2010; and email from Alfredo Lubang, PCBL Coordinator, 2 February 2011.

[13] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2009), Form I.

[14] “Cops undergo training on IED,” Police Regional Office 9 Press release, 10 May 2011, pro9.pnp.gov.ph.