The Philippines

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About encyclopedia.com content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

PHILIPPINES

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS FILIPINOS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Republic of the Philippines

Republika ng Pilipinas

CAPITAL: Manila

FLAG: The national flag consists of a white equilateral triangle at the hoist, with a blue stripe extending from its upper side and a red stripe extending from its lower side. Inside each angle of the triangle is a yellow five-pointed star, and in its center is a yellow sun with eight rays.

ANTHEM: Lupang Hinirang (also known as Bayang Magiliw [Nation Beloved] ).

MONETARY UNIT: The peso (p) is divided into 100 centavos. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 centavos and 1 and 2 pesos, and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 pesos. p1 = $0.01815 (or $1 = p55.1) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard, but some local measures also are used.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Freedom Day, 25 February; Labor Day, 1 May; Heroes' Day, 6 May; Independence Day (from Spain), 12 June; Thanksgiving, 21 September; All Saints' Day, 1 November; Bonifacio Day, 30 November; Christmas, 25 December; Rizal Day, 30 December; Last Day of the Year, 31 December. Movable religious holidays include Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

TIME: 8 pm = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

The Republic of the Philippines consists of an archipelago of 7,107 islands situated se of mainland Asia and separated from it by the South China Sea. The total land area is approximately 300,000 sq km (115,831 sq mi), 67% of which is contained within the two largest islands: Luzon, 108,171 sq km (41,765 sq mi) and Mindanao, 99,078 sq km (38,254 sq mi). Other large islands include Samar, Negros, Palawan, Panay, Mindoro, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, and Masbate. Comparatively, the area occupied by the Philippines is slightly larger than the state of Arizona. The Philippines' length is 1,851 km (1,150 mi) ssennw, and its width is 1,062 km (660 mi) enewsw.

The Philippines is separated from Taiwan on the n by the Bashi Channel (forming part of the Luzon Strait) and from Sabah, Malaysia (northern Borneo), on the sw by the Balabac Strait (off Palawan) and the Sibutu Passage (off the Sulu Archipelago). Bordering seas include the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean on the e, the Celebes Sea on the S, the Sulu Sea on the sw, and the South China Sea on the w. The Philippines has a total coastline of 36,289 km (22,549 mi).

The Philippines claims the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea, as do China, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. About 1,000 Philippine marines were stationed in the Spratlys in 1983. The Philippines also has a claim on Sabah, dating back to 1670.

The Philippines' capital city, Manila, is located on the island of Luzon.

TOPOGRAPHY

The topography is extremely varied, with volcanic mountain masses forming the cores of most of the larger islands. The range culminates in Mt. Pulog (elevation 2,928 m/9,606 ft) in northern Luzon and in Mt. Apo, the highest point in the Philippines (elevation 2,954 m/9,692 ft), in Mindanao. A number of volcanoes are active, and the islands have been subject to destructive earthquakes. On 16 July 1990, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake occurred on Luzon causing the death of 1,621 people; it was recorded as the strongest earthquake that year worldwide. A 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurred in Samar on 18 November 2003, causing structural damage to buildings and roads, but few injuries. Another 6.5 magnitude tremor occurred in Mindoro on 8 October 2004.

Lowlands are generally narrow coastal strips except for larger plains in Luzon (Cagayan Valley and Central Plains), Mindanao (Cotabato and Davao-Agusan valleys), and others in Negros and Panay. Rivers are short and generally seasonal in flow. Important ones are the Cagayan, Agno, Abra, Bicol, and Pampanga in Luzon and the Cotabato and Agusan in Mindanao. Flooding is a frequent hazard. The shores of many of the islands are embayed (Manila Bay is one of the finest harbors in East Asia); however, several islands lack adequate harbors and require offshore lightering for sea transport. The only two inland water bodies of significant size are Laguna de Bay in Luzon and Lake Sultan Alonto in Mindanao.

CLIMATE

The Philippine Islands, in general, have a maritime tropical climate and, except in the higher mountains, temperatures remain warm, the annual average ranging from about 23° to 32°c (73 to 90°f) throughout the archipelago. Daily average temperatures in Manila range from a minimum of 21°c (70°f) to a maximum of 30°c (86°f) in January and from 24°c (75°f) to 33°c (91°f) in June. Annual normal relative humidity averages 80%. Rainfall and seasonality differ markedly throughout the islands, owing to varying exposures to the two major wind belts, northeast trades or monsoon (winter) and southwest monsoon (summer). Generally, the east coasts receive heavy winter rainfall and the west coasts heavy summer rainfall. Intermediate and southern locales receive lesser amounts more equally distributed. The average annual rainfall in the Philippines ranges from 96 to 406 cm (38 to 160 in).

FLORA AND FAUNA

The Philippines supports a rich and varied flora with close botanical connections to Indonesia and mainland Southeast Asia. Forests cover almost one-half of the land area and are typically tropical, with the dominant family, Dipterocarpaceae, representing 75% of the stands. The forest also has vines, epiphytes, and climbers. Open grasslands, ranging up to 2.4 m (8 ft) in height, occupy one-fourth of the land area; they are man-made, the aftermath of the slash-and-burn agricultural system, and most contain tropical savanna grasses that are nonnutritious and difficult to eradicate. The diverse flora includes 8,000 species of flowering plants, 1,000 kinds of ferns, and 800 species of orchids.

There are over 150 species of mammals, with common mammals including the wild hog, deer, wild carabao, monkey, civet cat, and various rodents. There are about 196 breeding species of birds, among the more numerous being the megapodes (turkey-like wildfowl), button quail, jungle fowl, peacock pheasant, dove, pigeon, parrot, and hornbill. Reptilian life is represented by 190 species; there are crocodiles and the larger snakes include the python and several varieties of cobra.

ENVIRONMENT

Primary responsibility for environmental protection rests with the National Pollution Control Commission (NPCC), under whose jurisdiction the National Environmental Protection Council (NEPC) serves to develop national environmental policies and the Environmental Center of the Philippines implements such policies at the regional and local levels.

Uncontrolled deforestation in watershed areas, with consequent soil erosion and silting of dams and rivers, constitutes a major environmental problem, together with rising levels of air and water pollution in Manila and other urban areas. The NPCC has established standards limiting automobile emissions but has lagged in regulating industrial air and water pollution. In 2000, carbon dioxide emissions totaled 77.5 million metric tons.

The nation has 479 cu km of renewable water resources, with 88% of the annual withdrawal used to support farming and 4% used for industrial activity. Pollution has also damaged the coastal mangrove swamps, which serve as important fish breeding grounds. Between the 1920s and 1990s, the Philippines lost 70% of its mangrove area. In 2000, about 19% of the total land area was forested. About 50% of the nation's coral reefs are rated dead or dying as a result of pollution and dynamiting by fishermen. The nation is also vulnerable to typhoons, earthquakes, floods, and volcanic activity.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 50 types of mammals, 70 species of birds, 8 types of reptiles, 48 species of amphibians, 49 species of fish, 3 types of mollusks, 16 species of other invertebrates, and 212 species of plants. Threatened species in the Philippines included the monkey-eating eagle, Philippine tarsier, tamarau, four species of turtle (green sea, hawksbill, olive ridley, and leatherback), Philippines crocodile, sinarapan, and two species of butterfly. The cebu warty pig, Panay flying fox, and Chapman's fruit bat have become extinct.

POPULATION

The population of Philippines in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 84,765,000, which placed it at number 12 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 4% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 35% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 101 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 2.3%, a rate the government viewed as too high. The projected population for the year 2025 was 115,675,000. The overall population density was 283 per sq km (732 per sq mi), but the population is unevenly distributed, being most densely concentrated in Luzon and the Visayan Sea islands.

The UN estimated that 48% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 2.70%. Metropolitan Manila, the capital, had a population of 10,352,000 in that year. Created in 1975, metropolitan Manila includes four citiesManila proper, Quezon City, Caloocan City, and Pasay Cityand 13 surrounding municipalities. Other major cities include Davao, Cebu, Zamboanga, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, and Iloilo.

MIGRATION

The rapid growth of the Philippine population has led to considerable internal migration. On Luzon, frontier-like settlements have pushed into the more remote areas. The Mindoro and Palawan islands also have attracted numerous settlers, and hundreds of thousands of land-hungry Filipinos have relocated to less densely populated Mindanao. There also has been a massive movement to metropolitan Manila, especially from central Luzon. Emigration abroad is substantial. To reduce domestic unemployment, over 500,000 Philippine citizens were working abroad in the late 1980s and early 1990s, mainly in the Middle East, but also in Hong Kong and Singapore. Emigration to the United States particularly has been considerable: As of the 2000 US census, 1,369,070 Americans, or. 85% of US population, residing chiefly in California and Hawaii claimed only Filipino ancestry. In 2004, 143 Filipinos sought asylum in Canada.

As of 1998, there were still 1,589 asylum seekers from Vietnam in a Palawan camp, who were refused refugee status but allowed to stay pending a repatriation solution. Distinctions between Indochinese and other nationalities have been dropped, and all are now referred to as urban refugees. Many refugees became legal exiles while studying in the Philippines following political or military upheavals in their homelands; a majority have since married Filipino nationals. The number of migrants in 2000 was 160,000. As of 2004, the Philippines hosted 107 urban refugees, 44 asylum seekers, and 1,829 Vietnamese of concern as rejected cases. In 2005, the net migration rate was -1.49 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the emigration level as too high, but the immigration level as satisfactory. In 2003 remittances to the Philippines were $8 billion.

ETHNIC GROUPS

Filipinos of Malay (Malayan and Indonesian) stock constitute about 95.5% of the total population. They are divided into nine main ethnic groups: the Tagalog, Ilocanos, Pampanguenos, Pangasinans, and Bicolanos, all concentrated in Luzon; the Cebuanos, Boholanos, and Ilongos of the Visayas; and the Waray-Waray of the Visayas, Leyte, and Samar. The largest single group is the Tagalog, accounting for about 28% of the total population. The Cebuano is the next largest group, representing about 13% of the population. Numerous smaller ethnic groups inhabit the interior of the islands, including the Igorot of Luzon and the Bukidnon, Manobo, and Tiruray of Mindanao. There are small groups of Chinese and Muslims.

LANGUAGES

There are two official languages: Filipino (based on Tagalog), the national language adopted in 1946 and understood by a majority of Filipinos; and English, which is also widely spoken and understood. Spanish, introduced in the 16th century and an official language until 1973, is now spoken by only a small minority of the population. More than 80 indigenous languages and dialects (basically of Malay-Indonesian origin) are spoken. Besides Tagalog, which is spoken around Manila, the principal dialects include Cebuano (spoken in the Visayas), Ilocano (spoken in northern Luzon), and Panay-Hiligaynon. The teaching of Filipino is mandatory in public and private primary schools, and its use is encouraged by the government.

RELIGIONS

Most of the population (about 81%) belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Other Christian churches represent about 11.6% of the population and include such denominations as Seventh-Day Adventist, United Methodist, United Church of Christ, Assemblies of God, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and Philippine Baptist (associated with Southern Baptist). In addition, there are three churches established by Filipino religious leaders, the Independent Church of the Philippines, also called Aglipayan; the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ); and the Ang Dating Daan (an offshoot of the Church of Christ). Muslims represent about 5% of the population and are commonly called Moros by non-Muslims. They are concentrated in Mindanao and the Sulus. Most Muslims are Sunni. Buddhists make up less than 1% of the population. There are also small communities of Hindus and Jews. It is believed that a majority of the indigenous population includes elements of native religions within their practice of other faiths.

Freedom of religion and the separation of church and state is guaranteed by the constitution. In an effort to reduce tensions between Christians and Muslims in the southern islands and to answer Muslim autonomist demands, the government established an Office of Muslim Affairs in 1981 and allocated funds for Islamic legal training and for Muslim schools and cultural centers. Part of its role, as of 1999, involved coordinating the travel of pilgrims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and coordinating diplomatic ties with countries that have contributed to Mindanao's economic development and to the "peace process" with insurgent groups. The National Ecumenical Consultative Committee is a government-sponsored group that encourages interfaith dialogue. Certain Christian holidays are recognized as national holidays.

TRANSPORTATION

The total length of roadways in 2002 was 202,124 km (125,721 mi), of which only 19,202 km (11,944 mi) were paved. Luzon contains about one-half of the total road system, and the Visayas about one-third. There were 796,385 passenger cars and 1,774,300 commercial vehicles registered in 2003.

In 2004, the Philippine railroad system consisted of 897 km (557 mi) of common-carrier narrow gauge railroad track on Luzon and Panay. However, the system only plays a minor role in transportation, since only 492 km (306 mi) were in operation. As of 2004, there were 3,219 km (2,000 mi) of waterways, but their use is limited to vessels with a draft of less than 1.5 m (4.5 ft).

Water transportation is of paramount importance for inter-island and intra-island transportation. A small offshore fleet registered under the Philippine flag is engaged in international commerce, but most ocean freight is carried to and from the Philippines by ships of foreign registry. In 2005, the merchant fleet numbered 419 ships of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 4,524,259 GRT. There are 25 major ports. Manila is the busiest Philippine port in international shipping, followed by Cebu and Iloilo. Other ports and harbors include Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Guimaras Island, Iligan, Jolo, Legaspi, Masao, Puerto Princesa, San Fernando, Subic Bay, and Zamboanga.

In 2004 there were an estimated 255 airports. As of 2005 a total of 83 had paved runways, and there were also two heliports. Ninoy Aquino International Airport, formerly Manila International Airport, is the principal international air terminal. Five other airports serve international flights as well. Philippine Air Lines (PAL), the national airline, provides domestic and international flights. Under the Aquino government there were plans to sell PAL stock to the private sector. In 2003, about 6.467 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

HISTORY

Evidence of human habitation dates back some 250,000 years. In more recent times, experts believe that the Negritos, who crossed then existing land bridges from Borneo and Sumatra some 30,000 years ago, settled the Philippine Islands. Successive waves of Malays, who arrived from the south, at first by land and later on boats called barangaysa name also applied to their communitiescame to outnumber the Negritos. By the 14th century, Arab traders made contact with the southern islands and introduced Islam to the local populace. Commercial and political ties also linked various enclaves in the archipelago with Indonesia, Southeast Asia, India, China, and Japan. Ferdinand Magellan, a Portugueseborn navigator sailing for Spain, made the European discovery of the Philippines on 15 March 1521 and landed on Cebu on 7 April, claiming the islands for Spain, but the Filipino chieftain Lapulapu killed Magellan in battle. The Spanish later named the islands in honor of King Philip II, and an invasion under Miguel Lopez de Legaspi began in 1565. The almost complete conversion of the natives to Christianity facilitated the Spanish conquest; by 1571, it was concluded, except for the Moro lands (Moro is the Spanish word for Moor). The Spanish gave this name to Muslim Filipinos, mostly inhabitants of southern and eastern Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, and Palawan. The Spanish administered the Philippines, as a province of New Spain, from Mexico. Trade became a monopoly of the Spanish government; galleons shipped Oriental goods to Manila, from there to Acapulco in Mexico, and from there to the mother country.

Although Spain governed the islands until the end of the 19th century, its rule was constantly threatened by the Portuguese, the Dutch, the English (who captured Manila in 1762, occupying it for the next two years), the Chinese, and the Filipinos themselves. After the 1820s, which brought the successful revolts of the Spanish colonies in the Americas, Filipinos openly agitated against the government trade monopoly, the exactions of the clergy, and the imposition of forced labor. This agitation brought a relaxation of government controls: the colonial government opened ports to world shipping, and the production of such typical Philippine exports as sugar, coconuts, and hemp began. Filipino aspirations for independence, suppressed by conservative Spanish rule, climaxed in the unsuccessful rebellion of 189698. Jose Rizal, the most revered Filipino patriot, was executed, but Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and his forces continued the war. During the Spanish-American War (1898), Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on 12 June. When the war ended, the United States acquired the Philippines from Spain for $20,000,000. US rule replaced that of the Spanish, but Philippine nationalists continued to fight for independence. In 1899, Gen. Aguinaldo became president of the revolutionary First Philippine Republic and continued guerrilla resistance in the mountains of northern Luzon until his capture in 1901, when he swore allegiance to the United States. Over the long term, the effect of US administration was to make the Philippines an appendage of the US economy, as a supplier of raw materials to and a buyer of finished goods from the American mainland. Politically, US governance of the Philippines was a divisive issue among Americans, and the degree of US control varied with the party in power and the US perception of its own security and economic interests in the Pacific. In the face of continued nationalist agitation for independence, the US Congress passed a series of bills that ensured a degree of Philippine autonomy. The Tydings-McDuffie Independence Law of 1934 instituted commonwealth government and further stipulated complete independence in 1944. In 1935, under a new constitution, Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina became the first elected president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.

On 8 December 1941, Japan invaded the Philippines, which then became the focal point of the most bitter and decisive battles fought in the Pacific during World War II. By May 1942, the Japanese had achieved full possession of the islands. US forces, led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, recaptured the Philippines in early 1945, following the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval engagement in history. In September 1945, Japan surrendered. On 4 July 1946, Manuel A. Roxas y Acuna became the first president of the new Republic of the Philippines. Both casualties and war damage wreaked on the Philippines were extensive, and rehabilitation was the major problem of the new state. Communist guerrillas, called Hukbalahaps, threatened the republic. Land reforms and military action by Ramon Magsaysay, the minister of national defense, countered the Huks revolutionary demands. Magsaysay was elected to the presidency in 1953 but died in an airplane crash in 1957. Carlos P. Garcia succeeded Magsaysay and then won election to the office in 1958. Diosdado Macapagal became president in November 1961. He was succeeded by Ferdinand Edralin Marcos following the 1965 elections. Marcos was reelected in 1969 with a record majority of 62%. The Marcos government brutally suppressed the renewed Hukbalahap insurgency, but armed opposition by Muslim elements, organized as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Maoist-oriented New People's Army (NPA), and by other groups gathered force in the early 1970s.

Unable under the 1935 constitution to run for a third term in 1973, President Marcos, on 23 September 1972, placed the entire country under martial law, charging that the nation was threatened by a "full-scale armed insurrection and rebellion." Marcos arrested many of his more vehement political opponents, some of whom remained in detention for several years. In January 1973, the Marcos administration introduced a new constitution, but many of its provisions remained in abeyance until 17 January 1981, when Marcos finally lifted martial law. During the intervening period, Marcos consolidated his control of the government through purges of opponents, promotion of favorites, and delegation of leadership of several key programsincluding the governorship of metropolitan Manila and the Ministry of Human Settlementsto his wife, Imelda Romualdez Marcos. Although Marcos made headway against the southern guerrillas, his human-rights abuses cost him the support of the powerful Roman Catholic Church, led by Jaime Cardinal Sin. Elections were held in April 1978 for an interim National Assembly to serve as the legislature until 1984, but local elections held in 1980 were widely boycotted. Pope John Paul II came to Manila in February 1981, and even though martial law was no longer in effect, he protested the violation of basic human rights. In June 1981, Marcos won reelection for a new six-year term as president under an amended constitution preserving most of the powers he had exercised under martial rule. New threats to the stability of the regime came in 1983 with the rising foreign debt, a stagnant economy, and the public uproar over the assassination on 21 August of Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. Aquino, a longtime critic of Marcos, was shot at the Manila airport as he returned from self-exile to lead the opposition in the 1984 legislative elections. The gunman was immediately killed, and 26 others suspected of conspiracy in the assassination were acquitted in December 1985 for lack of evidence. Public sympathy gave opposition parties 59 out of 183 elective seats in 1984.

In 1985, political pressures forced Marcos to call for an election in February 1986 in view of a widespread loss of confidence in the government. The Commission on Elections and the National Assembly, controlled by his own political party, proclaimed Marcos the winner. His opponent, Maria Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, the widow of Benigno S. Aquino, claimed victory, however, and charged the ruling party with massive election fraud. The National Movement for Free Elections, the United States, and other international observers supported Aquino's charge. Accordingly, other countries withheld recognition of Marcos. On 21 February 1986, a military revolt grew into a popular rebellion, urged on by Jaime Cardinal Sin. US president Ronald Reagan gave Marcos an offer of asylum, which Reagan guaranteed only if Marcos left the Philippines without resistance. Marcos went into exile in Hawaii.

After Marcos

On 25 February 1986, Corazon Aquino assumed the presidency. Her government restored civil liberties, released political prisoners, and offered the NPA a six-month cease-fire, with negotiations on grievances, in exchange for giving up violence. Because Aquino came to power through the forced departure of an officially proclaimed president, the legality of her regime was suspect. Consequently, she operated under a transitional "freedom constitution" until 11 February 1987, when the electorate ratified a new constitution. On 11 May 1987 the first free elections in nearly two decades were held under the new constitution. More than 83% of eligible voters cast their ballots, 84 candidates ran for the 24 senate seats, and 1,899 candidates ran for the 200 house seats. There were 63 election-related killings. Old-line political families still controlled the system, as 169 House members out of the 200 elected either belonged to or were related to these families.

On 20 December 1987 one of the worst disasters in maritime history occurred when an overcrowded passenger ship collided with an oil tanker off Mindoro Island and at least 1,500 people perished. This delayed local elections until 18 January 1988. Nationwide 150,000 candidates ran for 16,000 positions as governor, vice governor, provincial board member, mayor, vice mayor, and town council member. In 1988 election-related violence killed more than 100 people. Members of the pro-government parties, a faction of the PDP-Laban and Lakas ng Bansa, formed a new organization, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) in June 1988. In March 1989 the thrice-postponed election for barangay officials was held, electing some 42,000 barangay captains. In August 1989 President Aquino signed a law giving limited autonomy to provinces where most Philippine Muslims lived: Mindanao, Palawan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi islands.

There were five coup attempts between the time Aquino took office and the end of 1987. This continuing succession of coup plots culminated in a large, bloody, well-financed attempt in December 1989. Led by Colonel Gregorio Honasan (who participated in the 1987 coup attempt, and was a close associate of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile) and involving more than 3,000 troops that targeted several bases; US air support helped to quelled this attempt. The Senate granted Aquino emergency powers for six months. President Aquino's administration lost international credibility with the appeal for US military support to quell the coup attempt. The authorities made arrests, but the Supreme Court ruled that Senator Juan Ponce Enrile could not be charged with murder, nullifying a criminal case against him. He was charged in a lower court with rebellion. In September 1990, 16 military members were convicted of the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino in 1983 and sentenced to life in prison.

Former president Ferdinand Marcos had appealed to Aquino to allow him to attend the funeral of his mother, as he had appealed several times to visit his mother while she was ill; Aquino denied each request. The Philippine government had traced at least $5 billion in deposits to Swiss bank accounts made by Marcos. Marcos attempted to negotiate his return to the Philippines, promising his support for Aquino and the return of $5 billion to the Philippines. Aquino also rejected his wife Imelda's plea for her husband's return. The Philippine government filed an antigraft civil suit for $22.6 billion against Marcos in 1987. Marcos and his wife, Imelda, were indicted in the United States, charged with the illegal transfer of $100 million in October 1988. On 28 September 1989 former President Ferdinand Marcos died in Honolulu. Aquino refused to allow his burial in the Philippines.

Under pressure from Communist rebels Aquino removed the US military bases from the Philippines in 1989. Three US servicemen were murdered outside Clark Air Force Base and the Communists took responsibility for the murders. A Communist guerrilla who admitted participating in the 21 April 1989 assassination of US Army Colonel James Row was arrested. In September 1989 US vice president Dan Quayle met with Aquino to discuss the renewal of the lease on US military bases. Prior to his arrival two American civilians working on the bases were killed; the government attributed these deaths to Communist guerrillas. The Communists continued to threaten US servicemen and local politicians. Anti-American demonstrations at Clark Air Base and in Manila led to clashes with the police and to injuries. The Communists continued their threats and two more US servicemen were killed near the Clark Air Base. In June of 1990 the Peace Corps removed 261 volunteers from the Philippines after Communist threats against them. In September 1990 Aquino said it was time to consider an "orderly withdrawal" of US forces from the Philippines.

Within a year the Philippines was pummeled with three major natural disasters. In July 1990 an earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale struck. The epicenter was 55 mi north of Manila and more than 1,600 people were killed. A super-typhoon devastated the central Visayas in November 1990. An even more destructive natural disaster occurred on 12 June 1991 when Mount Pinatubo in Zambales province, a volcano dormant for more than 500 years, violently erupted, causing the abandonment of Clark Air Base in Angeles City; 20,000 US military, their dependents, and civilian employees evacuated to the United States from Clark and the Subic Bay Naval Station.

The Philippine-American Cooperation Talks (PACT) reached agreement on military base and nonbase issues, but Philippine Senate refused to ratify the proposed treaty. On 6 January 1992 the Philippines government served notice of the termination of the US stay at Subic Naval Base in Zambales. After almost a century of US military presence, on 30 September 1992 the United States handed over Subic Naval Base to the Philippines. The Philippine government turned it into a free port, headed until 1998 by Dick Gordon.

Amnesty International (AI), the human rights organization, published a report in 1992 critical of the Aquino administration's assent to human rights violations perpetrated by the military; AI alleged that 550 extra judicial killings occurred during 198891. The military refuted the AI report citing its oversight of rebel activities.

In March 1991 President Aquino stated that Imelda Marcos could return to the Philippines, but that she faced charges that her husband stole $10 billion during his 20 years as president. Mrs. Marcos returned in November, after five years in Hawaii, to face civil and criminal charges, including tax fraud. In January 1992 Imelda Marcos announced that she would run for election in 1992; in the same month she was arrested, and then released, for failing to post bail on charges that she unlawfully maintained accounts in Switzerland. In September 1993 the government permitted the embalmed body of Ferdinand Marcos to return to the Philippines for burial near his home in northern Luzon. On 24 September 1993 Imelda Marcos was found guilty of participating in a deal that was "disadvantageous to the government" under the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act. She faced a maximum prison sentence of 24 years, but she remained free on bail while her appeal was considered.

In national and local elections held 11 May 1992, Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph E. Estrada were elected president and vice president, respectively. On 30 June 1992 Fidel Ramos succeeded Corazon Aquino as president of the Philippines with a plurality of 23.6%. Nearly 85% of eligible voters turned out to elect 17,205 officials at national, regional, and local levels. The election was relatively peaceful with only 52 election-related deaths reported. Rules required voters to write the names of the candidate they wanted for office. This, combined with the number of candidates, meant it was several weeks before the votes were completely tallied. Ramos, a Methodist and the Philippine's first non-Catholic president, considered the country's population growth rate as an obstacle to development. A rally of 300,000 Catholics led by Cardinal Sin took place in Manila in 1993 to protest the Ramos administration's birth control policies and the public health promotion of prophylactics to limit the spread of AIDS.

Domestic insurgency by the Muslim population continued throughout the 1980s. By the 1990s, however, internal divisions among the Muslims, reduced external support, military pressure, and government accommodations, including the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 1990 had greatly reduced the threat. In January 1994 the government signed a ceasefire agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front, ending 20 years of guerrilla war. Splinter groups among the Muslim population continue, however, to cause difficulties for both the MNLF and the government.

The last remaining communist insurgency in Asia was reduced temporarily by the Ramos government's peaceful signal, the 1992 Anti-Subversion Law, and the 1993 split in the ranks of the NPA that created a lull until issues related to the weakened leadership were resolved. The NPA returned to violent opposition sporadically throughout the 1990s, especially by the Revolutionary Proletarian Army, an offshoot of the NPA. The NPA significantly increased its use of children as armed combatants and noncombatants during this same time.

In January 1994 the congress passed a law restoring the death penalty for 13 crimes including treason, murder, kidnapping and corruption. Police reform was a particular goal of the legislation. This legislation was partly in response to a series of abductions of wealthy ethnic Chinese Filipinos abducted for ransom, in which the Philippine National Police were found to be involved.

Conflicting claims to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea are a source of tension between the Philippines and the People's Republic of China. In 1989 Chinese and Philippine warships exchanged gunfire in the vicinity of the Spratly Islands. The incident was resolved by diplomatic means. In June 1994 China protested an oil exploration permit granted to Vaalco Energy of the United States, and to Alcorn Petroleum and Minerals, its Philippine subsidiary. The Philippine response was to refer to a principle of "common exploration" and development of the Spratlys. China had employed this same principle when the Philippines had protested China's granting the United States permission to explore in the Spratlys in 1993. China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei all lay claim to all, or a portion, of the Spratly Islands. In June 1994 a 5-day conference on East Timor held in Manila ended with an agreement to establish a coalition for East Timor in the Philippines and proposed a peace plan based on the gradual withdrawal of Indonesian troops. But turmoil in the Spratlys did not end. In 1995, China briefly occupied Mischief Reef in a part of the islands claimed by the Philippines. In spring of 1997, Chinese warships were seen near Philippine-occupied islands in the chain. The two countries have also traded occupation of Scarborough Shoal, heightening tensions and prompting Manila to seek renewed American military presence. In May 1999 the Philippine Senate ratified a new Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, despite claims by opponents that the VFA would give the US military the opportunity to bring nuclear weapons, without declaration, into the Philippines, violating the Philippine constitution.

The issue of Filipino women forced to work abroad, long a controversy in the country's large impoverished class, came to a head in 1995. In March, Filipina domestic worker Flor Contemplacion was executed in Singapore for the murder of a maid and a child. Outraged Filipinos claimed the girl was framed; they filled the streets of Manila in protest. The crisis, the product of unemployment and underemployment forcing families to export their children to low-wage overseas jobs, culminated in Mr. Ramos's sacking of two cabinet ministers.

In January 1996, Philippines police uncovered and thwarted a plot by Islamic extremists to assassinate Pope John Paul II during his visit to Manila that month.

Muslim rebels in Mindanao continued their insurgencies against the government, raiding the trading town of Ipil in April 1996. The terrorists killed 57 people and burned the town's business district. The rebels also took part in the resurgence of kidnappings and bank robberies in Manila and Mindanao. More than 100 kidnappings were reported in 1996, many in which police officers were also suspected. A peace agreement between the Philippine government and the MNLF was signed on 2 September 1996, that ended the 24-year-old war in Mindanao. The agreement was signed by the government chief negotiator Manuel Yan, Nur Misuari, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, and Secretary General Hamid Algabid of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). Later, Misuari ran for and won the governorship of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARM) in the 9 September 1996 elections.

The Philippine economy suffered a harsh blow in 1995 when a typhoon ravaged the rice harvest, trebling the destruction of the rice acreage lost to the Mount Pinatubo eruption. But the economy rebounded in late 1995 and through 1996, buoyed by the government's massive infrastructure improvements and plans to develop former US military bases Subic Bay and Clark Air Force Base as tourist attractions and economic zones.

President Ramos introduced the Philippines 2000 movement, which was both a strategy and a movement; he called it the Filipino people's vision of development by the year 2000. As envisioned, the Philippines by the year 2000 would have a decent minimum of food, clothing, shelter, and dignity. The major goal of Philippines 2000 was to make the Philippines the next investment, trade, and tourism center in Asia and the Pacific. The Ramos administration achieved several of its economic goals but few of the social changes envisioned.

On 30 June 1998 the newly elected President, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, took office. The new Vice President was Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In November 2000, impeachment proceedings began against Estrada on allegations of corruption, betrayal of the public trust, and violation of the constitution. Estrada stepped down as president on 20 January 2001 after months of protests, and Arroyo was sworn in as president. Estrada in April 2001 was charged with taking more than us$80 million from state funds while in office; he was arrested and placed in custody. Arroyo faced a sluggish economy upon coming into office; the economy was still recovering from the 199798 Asian financial crisis. She initiated privatization and deregulation policies, especially in agriculture and the power-generating industry. On 30 December 2002, Arroyo declared she would not seek a second term in the 16 May 2004 presidential elections, so that she could focus on her economic reform agenda, restore peace and order, reduce corruption, and "heal political rifts." Despite this promise, she did participate in the 2004 presidential elections.

The separatist conflict on Mindanao had claimed more than 140,000 lives in three decades as of 2005. In March 2001, the 12,500-member Moro Islamic Liberation Front declared a ceasefire and declared it was ready to hold talks with the government. However, on 11 February 2003, more than 2,000 government soldiers advanced toward an MILF base near Pikit, attempting to disband a group of kidnappers known as the "Pentagon gang," which is on the list of US terrorist organizations. Approximately 135 MILF fighters were killed in three days of fighting. In January 2002, nearly 700 US troops, including 160 Special Forces soldiers, were sent to Mindanao to assess the military situation, provide military advice, and train the 7,000 Philippine soldiers pursuing the guerrillas of the Abu Sayyaf group operating in the southern islands of Basilan and Jolo. The Philippine constitution forbids foreign troops fighting on its territory.

Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the United States urged countries around the world to increase antiterrorist measures they might take. Southeast Asia was a primary focus of attention. In May 2002, the 10 members of ASEAN pledged to form a united antiterror front and to set up a strong regional security framework. The steps include introducing national laws to govern the arrest, investigation, prosecution, and extradition of suspects. As well, they agreed to exchange intelligence information and to establish joint training programs such as bomb detection and airport security.

The militant Islamic group Abu Sayyaf ("Bearer of the Sword") is one of several guerrilla organizations involved in a resurgence of violence in the Philippines since 2000. It split off from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1991 to pursue a more fundamentalist course against the government. Actions taken since the early 1990s include bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings of priests and businessmen. One of its goals is an independent Islamic state in Mindanao, but its activities have been linked to international terrorism as well, including ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, according to the US government. In May 2001, Abu Sayyaf kidnapped 20 people, including 3 Americans, demanding ransom. They beheaded one of the American captives, and held the othersa missionary couplehostage. In June 2002, Philippine commandos attempted to rescue the couple and a Filipino nurse being held with them. Two of the hostages were killed in a shootout, and one of the missionaries was freed. In August, Abu Sayyaf kidnapped six Filipino Jehovah's Witnesses and beheaded two of them. The group also claims responsibility for two bombings in Dabao City in 2003 which killed 38 people. In addition to Abu Sayyaf, a new Islamic insurgent group, Jemaah Islamiyah is believed to be training recruits in the southern Philippines, which is dedicated to the establishment of an Islamic theocracy in Southeast Asia. Financial links have been found between Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiyah and al-Qaeda.

The 2004 presidential elections were extremely close. Arroyo was able to retain the presidency with 40% of the vote to Fernando Poe Jr. with 37%. However, the Philippines continued to be plagued by accusations of corruption in the government, business arena and security forces. President Arroyo is credited with increasing economic (GDP) growth, 4.3% in 2002 to 4.7% in 2003 and to about 6% in 2004, but there are substantial criticisms levied against her government. Intense poverty remained a central problem in the Philippines as do counterinsurgency groups like the MNLF, Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiyah and the communist New People' s army. Steady unemployment contributes to the intense poverty with the 2005 rate exceeding 12%. Despite Arroyo's efforts, trafficking of women and children still remained a prominent issue.

GOVERNMENT

Under the constitution of 11 February 1987 the Philippines is a democratic republican state. Executive power is vested in a president elected by popular vote for a six-year term, with no eligibility for reelection. The president is assisted by a vice president, elected for a six-year term, with eligibility for one immediate reelection, and a cabinet, which can include the vice president. Legislative power rests with a bicameral legislature. Congress consists of a senate, with 24 members elected for six-year terms (limited to two consecutive terms). Senators are chosen at large. Senators must be native-born Filipinos and at least 35 years old. A house of representatives is elected from single-member districts for three-year terms (limited to three consecutive terms). Districts are reapportioned within three years of each census. In 2004, 212 members were elected. Up to 52 more may be appointed by the president from "party lists" and "sectoral lists," but the constitution prohibits the house of representatives from having more than 250 members. Representatives must be native-born Filipinos and at least 25 years of age. Presidential and legislative elections are next scheduled for May 2007.

POLITICAL PARTIES

The first Philippine political party, established in 1900, was the Federal Party, which advocated peace and eventual statehood. Later, the Nationalist Party (NP) and the Democratic Party were established. They did not produce an actual two-party system, since the Nationalists retained exclusive control and the Democrats functioned as a "loyal opposition." However, following Japanese occupation and the granting of independence, an effective two-party system developed between the Liberal Party (LP) and the NP. The Progressive Party, formed in 1957 by adherents of Ramon Magsaysay, polled more than one million votes in the presidential election of 1958. In the elections of November 1965, Senator Ferdinand Marcos, the NP candidate, received 55% of the vote. In the 1969 election, he was elected to an unprecedented second term. All political activity was banned in 1972, following the imposition of martial law, and was not allowed to resume until a few months before the April 1978 elections for an interim National Assembly. The Marcos government's New Society Movement (Kilusan Bagong Lipunan-KBL) won that election and the 1980 and 1982 balloting for local officials, amid charges of electoral fraud and attempts by opposition groups to boycott the voting. The principal opposition party was the People's Power Movement-Fight (Lakas Ng Bayan-Laban), led by Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., until his assassination in 1983. This party joined with 11 other opposition parties in 1982 to form a coalition known as the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO). Following Aquino's murder, some 50 opposition groups, including the members of the UNIDO coalition, agreed to coordinate their anti-Marcos efforts. This coalition of opposition parties enabled Corazon Aquino to campaign against Marcos in 1986. In September 1986 the revolutionary left formed a legal political party to contest congressional elections. The Partido ng Bayan (Party of the Nation) allied with other left-leaning groups in an Alliance for New Politics. This unsuccessful attempt for electoral representation resulted in a return to guerrilla warfare on the part of the Communists.

After assuming the presidency, Aquino formally organized the People's Power Movement (Lakas Ng Bayan), the successor to her late husband's party. In the congressional elections of May 1987, Aquino's popularity gave her party a sweep in the polls, making it the major party in the country. Marcos's KBL was reduced to a minor party. Some of its members formed their own splinter groups, such as the Grand Alliance for Democracy (GAD), a coalition of parties seeking distance from Marcos. Others revived the LP and the NP, seeking renewed leadership. The left-wing People's Party (Partido Ng Bayan), which supports the political objectives of the NPA, was a minor party in the elections. In May 1989 Juan Ponce Enrile reestablished the Nacionalista Party. A new opposition party, the Filipino Party (Partido Pilipino), organized in 1991 as a vehicle for Aquino's estranged cousin Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco's presidential campaign. He ran third in the election, taking 18.1% of the vote, behind Miriam Defensor Santiago with 19.8% of the vote. On 30 June 1992 Fidel Ramos succeeded Corazon Aquino as president of the Philippines with a plurality of 23.6%. In September 1992 Ramos signed the Anti-Subversion Law signaling a peaceful resolution to more than 20 years of Communist insurgency, with the repeal of the antisubversion legislation in place since 1957. On 26 August 1994 Ramos announced a new political coalition that would produce the most powerful political group in the Philippines. Ramos' Lakas-National Union of Christian Democrats (Lakas/NUCD) teamed with the Democratic Filipino Struggle (Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Laban). Following the 1995 elections, the LDP controlled the Senate with 14 of the 24 members. The elections in 1998 changed the political landscape once more. In the Senate the newly created Laban Ng Masang Pilipino, led by presidential candidate, Joseph Estrada, captured 12 seats to the Lakas 5, PRP 2, LP 1, independents 3. The LAMP party also dominated the House of Representatives with 135 seats to the Lakas 37, LP 13, Aksyon Demokratiko 1, and 35 independents.

Political parties and their leaders in 2002 included: Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (New Society Movement), led by Imelda Marcos; Laban Ng Demokratikong Pilipino (Struggle of Filipino Democrats) or LDP, led by Eduardo Angara; Lakas, led by Jose De Venecia; Liberal Party or LP, led by Florencio Abad; Nacionalista Party, led by Jose Oliveros; National People's Coalition or NPC, led by Eduardo Cojuangco; PDP-Laban, led by Aquilino Pimentel; and the People's Reform Party or PRP, led by Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

The elections in 2004 again changed the political landscape dramatically. The senate became a majority Lakas with 7 seats, LP with 3 seats, KNP (coalition) with 3 seats, independents with 4 seats, others with 6 seats (there were 23 rather than 24 sitting senators because one senator was elected Vice President) Fourteen senators were pro-government, 9 were in opposition. Lakas also were a majority in the House of Representatives with 93 seats, NPC with 53, LP with 34, LDP with 11, and others with 20.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Under the constitutions of 1935, 1973, and 1987, the country has been divided into provinces, municipalities, and chartered cities, each enjoying a certain degree of local autonomy. Each of the 73 provinces and subprovinces elects a governor, a vice-governor, and two provincial board members for terms of six years. There are 61 chartered cities headed by a mayor and a vice-mayor. Chartered cities stand on their own, are not part of a province, do not elect provincial officials, and are not subject to provincial taxation, but have the power to levy their own taxes. Municipalities, of which each province is composed, are public corporations governed by municipal law. There are approximately 1,500 municipalities, and within each municipality are communities (barangays ), each with a citizens' assembly. There are about 42,000 barangays.

The 1987 constitution provides for special forms of government in the autonomous regions created in the Cordilleras in Luzon and the Muslim areas of Mindanao. Any region can become autonomous by a referendum. The Local Government Code of 1991 provided for a more responsive and accountable local-government structure. Local governments are to be given more powers, authority, responsibilities and resources through a system of decentralization.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

Under the 1973 constitution, the Supreme Court, composed of a chief justice and 14 associate justices, was the highest judicial body of the state, with supervisory authority over the lower courts. The entire court system was revamped in 1981, with the creation of new regional courts of trials and of appeals. Justices at all levels were appointed by the president. Philippine courts functioned without juries. Delays in criminal cases were common, and detention periods in national security cases were long. Security cases arising during the period of martial law (197281) were tried in military courts. The 1987 constitution restored the system to what it had been in 1973. Despite the reinstitution of many procedural safeguards and guarantees, the slow pace of justice continues to be a major problem.

The national court system consists of four levels: local and regional trial courts; a national Court of Appeals divided into 17 divisions; the 15-member Supreme Court; and an informal local system for arbitrating or mediating certain disputes outside the formal court system. A Shariah (Islamic law) court system, with jurisdiction over domestic and contractual relations among Muslim citizens, operates in some Mindanao provinces. Supreme Court justices may hold office, on good behavior, until the age of 70.

The constitution calls for an independent judiciary and defendants in criminal cases are afforded the right to counsel. The legal system is based on both civil and common law. It is especially influenced by Spanish and Anglo-American laws. The Philippines accepts the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.

The government allows free press although several journalists have been killed in revenge for reporting on crimes committed by local authorities.

An informal local system for arbitrating or mediating certain problems operates outside the formal court system. There is no jury system. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have the right to confront witnesses, to present evidence and to appeal.

Issues affecting women, such as rape, domestic violence and sexual discrimination continued to be problematic although banned by law. Drug trafficking, forced labor and child prostitution continued to be problems for the law enforcement community.

The Philippines is a member of many international organizations including the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.

ARMED FORCES

The Philippines' armed forces had 106,000 active personnel in 2005, with reserves of 131,000. The Army had 66,000 active personnel that included eight light infantry divisions and five engineer battalions. Equipment included 65 Scorpion light tanks, 85 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 370 armored personnel carriers, and more than 282 artillery pieces. The Navy had an estimated 24,000 personnel (including 7,500 Marines) and an aviation arm. Major naval units included 1 frigate and 58 patrol/coastal vessels. The naval aviation arm was outfitted with six fixed wing transport aircraft and four utility helicopters. The Air Force had an estimated strength of 16,000, with 21 combat capable aircraft that included 11 fighter aircraft. The service also had 25 assault helicopters. Paramilitary forces consisted of a Coast Guard, the 40,500-member Philippine National Police and the 40,000 reservist Citizen Armed Force Geographical Units. The defense budget in 2005 totaled $844 million.

The Philippines sent troops and observers to participate in UN missions in five countries.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

The Philippines is a charter member of the United Nations, having joined on 24 October 1945, and belongs to ESCAP and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, ILO, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, the World Bank, IAEA, and the WHO. The Philippines is a member of ASEAN and led in the formation of the Asian Development Bank, which opened its headquarters in Manila in 1966. The nation is also a member of APEC, the Colombo Plan, G-24, G-77, and the WTO. It has observer status in the OAS

The Philippines is part of the Nonaligned Movement. The government has offered support to UN missions and operations in Kosovo (est. 1999), Liberia (est. 2003), East Timor (est. 2002), and Burundi (est. 2004), among others. In environmental cooperation, the Philippines is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, International Tropical Timber Agreements, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.

ECONOMY

Efforts to transform the Philippine economy from a primarily agricultural producer of crops for subsistence and export to a more diversified growth economy led by manufactured exports commanding more favorable terms of trade like its Asian tiger neighbors have been repeatedly hindered by natural disasters and external economic shocks. In 199091 the islands suffered the triple blow of earthquake, super-typhoon, and volcanic eruption. In succession, there were the even more devastating typhoon of 1995, the Asian financial crisis of 1997, and the global economic slowdown of 2001. In 2005, 14.8% of GDP was in agriculture, 31.7% in industry, and 53.5% in services. In 2004, 36% of the labor force was engaged in agriculture, compared with 16% in industry and 48% in services.

The manufacturing sector, though expanded and diversified since political independence, depends on imported raw materials and cannot supply internal needs. Electronics and telecommunications exports, which grew by double digits in the 1990s and had accounted for at least 75% of export revenues in 1999, proved vulnerable to the worldwide slowdown in consumer demand in the recession of 2001, and the contraction by half in foreign investment as a result of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The Philippines has great potential as a tourist destination. However, since the early 1990s the tourist industry has, in addition to natural disasters and high fuel costs, been afflicted with political difficulties, particularly with the emergence of the Abu Sayyaf (Bearers of the Sword) Islamic fundamentalist group. Tourism receipts peaked in 1997 at close to $3 billion, but in 2000 were less than $2 billion.

Though the Philippine economy had a real GDP growth rate in 2001 of 3.4%, down from 4.8% in 2000, this positive showing was due primarily to a 4% growth in agriculture, and in spite of a 15% fall in exports, and 61.1% decline in its trade surplus (to $2.6 billion) compared to 2000. For the first three quarters of 2002, the government reported growth in all three sectors, with services leading at 5.1% increase over 2001, industry second, at 3.8% growth, and agriculture at 2.3%. The improvement in services is ascribed to liberalization and deregulation that have encouraged innovations in telecommunications, retail, transportation and financing. The Malampaya natural gas project is central to industrial performance, while agriculture suffered from adverse weather conditions.

Widespread unemployment and underemployment plague the labor market. In 2002, the unemployment rate was 10.3% and the underemployment rate was 15.9%. High rates of labor migration abroad provide some relief and accounts for a substantial portion of the country's foreign exchange earnings.

Throughout the 1990s the shortage of electric power was a notorious constraint on the economy. In Manila, the industrial hub, power outages lasted from four to six hours per day. In 2000, in its Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) the government set as a goal 100% electrification by 2004. Consumer price protection was provided by the Price Act of 1992 through the stabilization of the price of basic necessities and prime commodities and by measures against undue price increases during emergency situations. In 1993 the inflation rate continued to decline and real economic growth accelerated through the beginning of 1997, before the onset of the Asian financial crisis in August. As measured by the consumer price index (CPI), inflation peaked in 1998 at 9.7%, but had declined to 4.4% in 2000. There was an increase to 6.1% in 2001. Between 1993 and 1999, the Philippine government liberalized telecommunications, deregulated transportation, privatized water, and resolved the power crisis.

Real GDP growth averaged 3% from 1988 to 1998, peaking at 5.3% in 1997 and bottoming out in 1998 at 0.4%. From 1999 to 2002 real growth averaged close to 4%. Over the 200105 period, real GDP growth averaged 4.3%, and stood at 4.9% in 2005. GDP growth was forecast at 4.7% for 2006, but lower oil prices and higher global trade growth in 2007 were projected to allow GDP growth to accelerate to 5%. By year-end 2005, confidence in the Philippine economy had returned, as there had been a 70.5% year-on-year increase in FDI inflows into the country in January to August 2005.

The economy is marked by many disparitiesin ownership of assets, in income, in levels of technology in production, and in the geographic concentration of economic activity. The National Capital Region (NCR), centered on Manila, contains 14% of the population and produces one-third of GDP. Per capita income in the NCR, the richest region of the country, is roughly nine times that of the poorest region, the four provinces forming the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao. In 2000, the richest 10% of the population had an income 23 times that of the poorest 10%. Those living in poverty were estimated at 39.4% of the population in 2000, with the rate in rural areas standing at 46.9%. The poverty rate in the NCR was only 12.7%.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 the Philippines's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $451.3 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $5,100. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 4.7%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 7.9%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 14.8% of GDP, industry 31.7%, and services 53.5%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $7.880 billion or about $97 per capita and accounted for approximately 9.9% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $737 million or about $9 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.9% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Philippines totaled $55.18 billion or about $677 per capita based on a GDP of $79.3 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 3.7%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 37% of household consumption was spent on food, 11% on fuel, 1% on health care, and 14% on education. It was estimated that in 2001 about 40% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.

LABOR

The Philippines had a labor force estimated at 36.73 million in 2005. As of 2004, agriculture accounted for 36% of the nation's workforce, with 16% working in industry, and 48% in the services sector. In 2005, the unemployment rate was estimated at 12.2% of the workforce.

In May 1974, the government passed a new labor code that restructured the trade union movement on a one-industry, one-union basis. Most of the more than 3,700 trade unions are small; industrial unions have been united in the Philippines Trade Union Congress, and agricultural workers in the Federation of Free Farmers. Strikes are prohibited in such essential services as transportation, communications, and health care. In 2001, about 11% of the labor force was unionized, although only 2% were covered by collective bargaining agreements. While the right to strike and bargain are recognized by law, numerous instances of intimidation of union officials have been reported.

In 2002, the average legal daily minimum wage was $5.60 for nonagricultural workers. This does not provide a family with a decent living standard. Perhaps as many as one-fifth of businesses in the Philippines does not pay the minimum wage. Agricultural wages are even lower, at a minimum of $2.60 per day. The minimum working age is 15, although children even younger may work under the supervision of a parent or guardian. In practice, many children work in the informal economy, although serious efforts are being made by the government to reduce the number of children who are working.

AGRICULTURE

About one-third of the total land area is classified as arable. Three-fourths of the cultivated area is devoted to subsistence crops and one-fourth to commercial crops, mainly for export. Farms tend to be small, and many areas are double-cropped. Soils are generally fertile, but 30% of the agricultural land is suffering erosion.

In 1973, the Marcos government began a land-reform program that undertook to transfer landowners to about half of the country's 900,000 tenant farmers. By February 1986, over one-half of the areaabout 600,000 hectares (1,482,600 acres)had not been distributed. The Aquino administration proposed a program in two stages: the first, covering 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) in 198789, involved previously undistributed land and other land held by the state; the second, covering 3.9 million hectares (9.6 million acres) in 199092, involved land cultivating sugar, coconuts, and fruits. A more detailed 199095 plan sought to increase productivity of small farms, maintain self-sufficiency in rice and corn production, and to increase the agricultural sector's role in the trade balance.

Roughly half the cultivated land is devoted to the two principal subsistence crops, palay (unhusked rice) and corn. Production of palay was 14,497,000 tons in 2004; long-term production has increased, mainly through the use of high-yielding hybrid seeds under a government development program begun in 1973. The Philippines attained self-sufficiency in rice in 1974 and became a net exporter of rice for the first time in 1977. A similar development plan was aimed at raising yields of corn, which is the chief food crop in areas unsuitable for rice-growing and is increasingly important as feed for use in the developing livestock and poultry industries. The Philippines has been self-sufficient in corn for human consumption since the late 1970s, but since production of animal feed lags behind the demand, imports are still necessary. Corn output in 2004 was 5,413,000 tons. Lesser crops include peanut, mango, cassava, camote, tomato, garlic, onion, cabbage, eggplant, calamansi, rubber, and cotton.

Commercial agriculture, dominated by large plantations, centers on coconuts and copra, sugarcane, tobacco, bananas, and pineapples. Coconuts are the most important export crop, accounting for 26% of world production; in 2004, 14,345,000 tons were produced. Copra production, in which the Philippines leads the world, rose from 1,470,000 tons in 1965 to an estimated 2,250,000 tons in 2004/05. As oil milling capacity rose, the domestic market for copra expanded, accounting for almost all of the output and leaving only marginal amounts for exportation. The government put a ban on copra exports in March 1983, but it was lifted in March 1986. Sugarcane production provided the country's single largest export item until 1978, when output and prices fell. Production was 28 million tons in 2004 (compared with an annual average of 31.5 million tons during 197981). Pineapple production rose to 1,759,000 tons in 2004; production of coffee was 101,000 tons, and 5,638,000 tons of bananas were produced that year. Other important cash crops in 2004 included mangos, 968,000 tons; tobacco, 48,000 tons; and rubber, 96,000 tons.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Animal husbandry never has been important, meat consumption being very low. The carabao, or water buffalo, are the principal draft animals, particularly in the rice paddies; hogs are the chief meat animals (except in Muslim sections). The Philippines is self-sufficient in pork and poultry, but imports of beef and dairy products are still necessary. In 2005 there were 12.1 million hogs, 6.5 million goats, 3.2 million buffaloes, 2.6 million head of cattle, and 136 million chickens. Meat production in 2005 included (in thousands of tons): pork, 1,100; chicken, 647; beef from cattle, 175; and goat, 35. Dairy production totaled 13,000 tons from cows in 2005; and eggs, 545,000 tons. The livestock and poultry sectors each contribute about 13% to the total value of agricultural production. In 2004, exports of livestock, meat, and skins were valued at nearly $7.6 million.

FISHING

Fish is the primary source of protein in the Filipino diet. Some 2,000 species abound in Philippine waters. Despite more than a doubling in output since the 1960s, the fishing industry remains relatively undeveloped, and large quantities of fish are imported. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) cites the continued environmental degradation of Philippine waters as a major constraint on fish production. In 2003, the total domestic fish catch was 2,169,164 tons (11th in the world), and aquacultural production amounted to 459,615 tons. Exports of fish products in 2003 were valued at $428.2 million.

Six species are most important, according to BFAR, because each has yielded 100,000 tons per year or more since the mid-1980s. These species are: sardines, roundscad, frigate tuna, anchovies, milkfish, and tilapia. Indian mackerel, skipjack and yellowfin tuna, sea bass, red snapper, mullet, kawakawa, squid, and prawn are also plentiful. Principal commercial fishing grounds are off Palawan, north of Panay and Negros, and to the south and west of Mindanao. Subsistence fishing is conducted throughout the archipelago. Fish ponds, chiefly for cultivation of bangos or milkfish, are principally in the swampy coastal areas of western Panay and around Manila Bay. Pearl shells (including cultured pearls), sponges, sea cucumbers (trepang), shark fins, and sea turtles are exported.

FORESTRY

Forests are an important economic resource in the Philippines. As of 2000, remaining forests occupy 5,789,000 hectares (14,300,000 acres), equivalent to 19.4% of the total Philippine land area. Major commercial forest reserves are located in Mindanao, Luzon, Samar, Negros, and Palawan. Areas devoted to industrial tree plantations in 2000 were estimated at 753,000 hectares (1,860,000 acres). Some 28,000 hectares (69,000 acres) were reforested in 2000, 21% by the private sector.

A series of devastating typhoons and the ensuing mudslides in central Luzon in December 2004 revealed the seriousness of both legal and illegal deforestation, prompting the government to review existing forestry laws. Applications to operate new sawmills have been suspended since 2003, as most sawmills had been utilizing illegally acquired logs. As a result, the output of logs, lumber, veneer, and plywood has been in decline since then.

Roundwood production in 2004 was estimated at 15.8 million cu m (557.7 million cu ft). Production of lumber in 2004 was estimated at 295,000 cu m (10.4 million cu ft); wood pulp, 175,000 tons; and plywood, 310,000 cu m (10.9 million cu ft). In the early 1980s, the Philippines was a significant exporter of tropical hardwood logs and lumber, but production fell by over 50% over the decade, leaving the country a net importer of tropical hardwood logs by 1990. The trade deficit for forest products was $518.4 million in 2004.

Among other forest products are bamboo, rattan, resins, tannin, and firewood.

MINING

The mining and quarrying sector continued to decline in importance, accounting for about 2% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) of $77.1 billion in 2002. Production for much of the last quarter of the 20th century was slowed by political instability, declining foreign investment, low international prices, high operation and production costs, labor problems, an inadequate mining law, and natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, tsunamis, typhoons, floods, and drought. Nevertheless, the Philippines ranked second in the Asia-Pacific region, after Indonesia, in terms of mineral prospectivity and resources. The Philippines reportedly had the world's largest source of refractory chromite, from Masinloc, and substantial resources of copper, gold, nickel, and silver. The production of chemicals and petroleum refining were leading industries in 2002.

Copper output was estimated at 20,414 metric tons (metal content) in 2003, up from 18,364 metric tons in 2002. Mined gold output was estimated at 37,840 kg in 2003, with mined nickel output estimated at 27,000 metric tons in 2003, up from 24,148 metric tons in 2002. The Philippines also produced sizable quantities of metallurgic chromite. Chromite ore production totaled an estimated 2,600 metric tons (gross weight) in 2003, up from 20,000 metric tons in 2002. Silver was also produced for export. The industrial mineral sector was dominated by the production of limestone, marble, and sand and gravel. In 2003, the Philippines also produced bentonite, hydraulic cement, clays (including red and white), feldspar, lime, perlite, phosphate rock, pyrite and pyrrhotite (including cuprous), marine salt, silica sand, stone (including dolomite, volcanic cinder, tuff, quartz), and sulfur. No guano phosphate was produced in 1999 and 2000, or in 2003.

Exploitation of the Philippines' potentially rich mineral resources has been stimulated somewhat by the Mining Act of 1995, which was designed to promote the mining industry to the international community and to provide incentives to ensure efficiency and economic viability for mining endeavors. The law also aimed to help the domestic mining industry regain its competitiveness by allowing companies (contractors) to obtain an exploration permit for a specific area for up to four years. For a viable deposit, the code provided four production agreementsproduction sharing, co-production, joint venture, or financial/technical assistancewith a duration of up to 50 years. A serious accident in 1996 involving spilled mine tailings from a copper mine on Marinduque led the government to freeze almost all applications for exploration licenses by foreign companies for one year. Through 2000, 59 exploration permits had been issued, and more than 400 applications were pending. The mining industry employed 400,000 people300,000 of them engaged in small-scale mining and panning activities, chiefly in artisanal gold workings.

ENERGY AND POWER

The Philippines has modest reserves of oil, but more robust reserves of natural gas that could make the country a significant producer. The country is also the second-largest producer of geothermal power in the world.

As of 1 January 2004, the Philippines had proven oil reserves of 152 million barrels. In 2003, oil production averaged an estimated 26,000 barrels per day, of which 25,000 barrels per day consisted of crude oil. Domestic demand for petroleum products in 2003 however, far outstripped production, In that year, demand averaged an estimated 338,000 barrels per day, necessitating imports averaging an estimated 312,000 barrels per day. Crude oil refining capacity, as of 1 January 2004, was estimated at 333,000 barrels per day. However, as of October 2004, refineries in the Philippines were reported to be operating at 80% capacity. In 2004, refining in the country was dominated by three companies: Petron; Pilipinas Shell; and Caltex (Philippines), of which Petron is the largest. Petron's Limay, Bataan refinery can process 180,000 barrels per day of crude oil. Pilipinas Shell's refinery has a capacity of 153,000 barrels per day. Caltex (Philippines) closed its 6,000 barrel per day refining facility in late 2003, a year ahead of schedule, to make way for a storage and distribution facility.

The Philippines, as of 1 January 2004, had proven natural gas reserves estimated at 3.6 trillion cu ft. Of that amount, 2.6 trillion cu ft were contained in the Malampaya field, located in the South China Sea, off the island of Palawan. Plans by the Philippine government call for using the field's gas to fuel three power plants with a combined electric generating capacity of 2,700 MW and displacing 26 million barrels of oil. In 2002, domestic demand and output of natural gas were each estimated at 70.6 billion cu ft.

The Philippines had recoverable coal reserves estimated at 366 million short tons, as of 2002. In that same year, coal production was estimated at 1.9 million short tons, with demand placed at 5.7 million short tons. Imports in that same year came to 3.8 million short tons. However, coal's share of the Philippines' energy mix has been declining, due in large part to the development of new natural gas projects.

As of 1 January 2002, the Philippines had an electric generating capacity estimated at 13.4 million kW, of which geothermal energy contributed about 14.2% and conventional thermal-fired plants about 67%. Hydroelectric capacity accounted for around 18.7%. Total electrical output in 2002 was estimated at 45.6 billion kWh, of which 61.9% was from fossil fuels, 15.8% from hydropower, and the rest from geothermal sources. Geothermal energy, is produced on Luzon, Leyte, and Negros. Consumption of electricity in 2002 was estimated at 42.4 billion kWh. Large hydroelectric plants have been installed on the Agno and Angat rivers on Luzon and at María Cristina Falls on the Agusan River in Mindanao.

INDUSTRY

In 2001 employment in industry decreased by 86,000 since 2000, or by 1.8%, and its share of total employment declined 1.2%. In this same period there was a 7.4% increase in agricultural employment and a 0.6% increase in agriculture's share of the economy. These statistics reflect the setbacks the Philippines has encountered in its long-run strategy of converting to a more diversified economy with growth led by high value-added manufactured exports. These problems were aggravated by the global economic recession that began in 2001 and the aftershocks of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Over half of the value of Philippine exports in 2000 were accounted for by information technology (IT) products, which were particularly affected by the global recession.

Exports of electronics first surpassed food products and textiles in value in the late 1990s, as the government sought to shift from an economy based on agricultural produce and sweatshop factory output to an economy anchored by the assembly of computer chips and other electronic goods, many of them computer peripherals. Over 50 chip assemblers and computer components makers have invested in Philippine operations. Technology companies with major investments in the Philippines include Intel, Philips, Acer, Toshiba, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Cypress Semiconductor, and Amkor Technology. In a 1999 World Bank study, the Philippines was credited with one of the world's most technologically advanced export structures.

A promising development was a major natural gas discovery in the Malampaya field, formally inaugurated in 2001 with the completion of a 312 mile (504 km) sub-sea pipeline and the conversion of three power plants in Batangas to natural gas usage. In the Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) 200009 the government envisioned domestic energy production increasing to over 50% self-sufficiency from about 42% self-sufficiency in 2001. Oil production has not been promising: in 2001 only 2.3% of the oil consumed was produced in the Philippines. The Malampaya Deepwater Gas-to-Power Project has shifted the government focus to an emphasis on the development of natural gas resources.

By value, the leading industries are textiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wood products, food processing, petroleum products, electrical machinery, electronics assembly, petroleum refining, and fishing, with significant production in transport equipment, nonmetallic mineral products, fabricated metal products, beverages, rubber products, paper and paper products, leather products, publishing and printing, furniture and fixtures, and tobacco. The industrial production growth rate in 2005 was 0.5%.

The industrialization strategy proposed by the government in 1981 stressed development of exports and the accelerated implementation of 11 major industrial projectsa copper smelter, a phosphate fertilizer plant, an aluminum smelter, a diesel-engine manufacturing plant, an expansion of the cement industry, a "cocochemical" complex (based on coconuts), an integrated pulp and paper mill, a petrochemical complex, heavy engineering industries, an integrated steel mill, and the production of "alcogas." The copper smelter, the phosphate fertilizer plant, and the "cocochemical" complex went into operation in 1985. Historically, manufacturing production has been geographically concentrated in the Metro Manila area and the adjoining regions of Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon. With the progress in electrification, this geographic concentration has begun to decrease. Most industrial output is concentrated in a relatively few large firms. Although small and medium-sized businesses account for about 80% of manufacturing employment, they account for only about 25% of the value-added in manufacturing. In 2005, industry accounted for 31.7% of GDP.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Leadership in formulating and implementing national science policy is exercised by the Department of Science and Technology. Special training in science is offered by the Philippine Science High School, whose graduates are eligible for further training through the department's scholarship program. The International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, founded by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations and US AID in 1960, conducts training programs in the cultivation, fertilization, and irrigation of hybrid rice seeds. The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture maintains genotype and information banks for agricultural research.

The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, founded in 1958, is located in Quezon City. The French Institute of Scientific Research for Development and Cooperation has an institute in Manila conducting research in molecular biology. In 1996, the Philippines had 68 universities and colleges offering courses on basic and applied sciences. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 14% of college and university enrollments. In the same period, research and development expenditures amounted to 0.22% of GNP. For the period 19902001 there were 156 scientists and engineers and 22 technicians engaged in research and development per million people. In 2002, high-tech exports were valued at $11.488 billion and accounted for 65% of manufactured exports.

DOMESTIC TRADE

The archipelagic structure of Philippine marketing requires the establishment of regional centers and adds considerably to distribution costs, foreign domination of much of marketing, direct government participation, and the proliferation of small firms. About 90% of all imported goods come through the Port of Manila. Makati City is the business center of the country and hosts a number of distribution centers, trading firms, commercial banks, and high-end retail establishments. Cebu City is the trading center of the south.

Small stores typify retail trade. Manila has major shopping centers and malls. Generally, sales are for cash or on open account. Retailing is conducted on a high markup, low-turnover basis. A law provides for price-tagging on retail items. Direct marketing, particularly of foreign name-brand products, has gained in popularity. English is the general language of commercial correspondence. Most advertising is local; the chief media are newspapers, radio, television, posters, billboards, and sound trucks.

Shops are usually open from 10 am to 8 pm, Monday through Saturday, but these hours can vary. Most department stores and supermarkets are open on Sunday. Banking hours are weekdays from 9 am to 3 pm. Office hours, and hours for the Philippine government are generally from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, with a one-hour lunch break from 12 to 1 pm. Some offices are open from 8 am to 12 pm on Saturday. Staggered hours, with up to three shifts, are common in the metropolitan Manila area.

FOREIGN TRADE

The Philippines' traditional exports were primary commodities and raw materials. However, by 2000, machinery and transport equipment made up the majority of exports. In 2000, exports of electric machinery (mostly microcircuits, diodes, and transistors) accounted for 51% of total exports, and garments contributed 6.8% to the total value of exports. In 2000, the Philippines exported a majority of electronics, including microcircuits, transistors and valves (44%); automatic data processing equipment (12.2%); and telecommunications equipment (2.7%). Other exports included garments (6.8%), vegetable oil (1.2%), and fruits and nuts (1.1%). In 2000, machinery and electronics accounted for over three-fourths of all exports.

In 2004, the major exports were: electronic products (67.3% of all exports); semiconductors (47.1%); garments (5.5%); coconut oil (1.5%); and petroleum products (1%). Primary imports were: capital goods (38.1% of all imports); semi-processed raw materials (34%); parts for the manufacture of electronic equipment (15.4%); mineral fuels (11.7%); and chemicals (7.9%).

Japan and the United States continue to be the Philippines' primary trading partners. In percentage terms, for 2004, the Philippines' leading markets were: Japan (20.1% of all exports); the United States (17.9%); the Netherlands (9.1%); Hong Kong (7.9%); and China (6.7%). Leading suppliers included: Japan (19.8% of all imports); the United States (13.7%); China (7.7%); Singapore (7.4%); and Taiwan (7%).

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

Since World War II, the Philippines experienced frequent trade deficits, aggravated by inflationary pressures. Deficits were counterbalanced by US government expenditures, transfer of payments from abroad, official loans (US Export-Import Bank, IBRD, and private US banks), net inflow of private investment, tourist receipts, remittances from Filipino workers overseas, and contributions from the IMF.

In 1996, trade liberalization policies helped to push imports up by 22% while exports rose by only 18%. The result was a widening trade deficit that amounted to 13% of GDP. Foreign investment in the stock market and remittances from overseas workers helped to offset the deficit and avert a balance-of-payments crisis. In 1998, the Philippines recorded a trade surplus at about 2% of GNP in the current account due to high electronics exports and low imports due to the devaluation of the peso. This was the first surplus in 12 years.

Merchandise exports, in double digits through most of the 1990s, slowed to a single-digit growth pace in 2000, reflecting fewer export receipts from electronics and telecommunications parts and equipment. This decline was attributed by the electronics industry to weaker prices for maturing products and technologies, and to the decline in electronic industry investments from the 199497 boom years (when investment averaged $1.5 billion a year).

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 36,231.2 39,543.5 -3,312.3
United States 7,273.4 7,674.5 -401.1
Japan 5,768.9 8,070.6 -2,301.7
China, Hong Kong SAR 3,093.9 1,690.9 1,403.0
Netherlands 2,921.7 323.8 2,597.9
Other Asia nes 2,492.2 1,966.8 525.4
Malaysia 2,462.6 1,434.6 1,028.0
Singapore 2,431.1 2,694.7 -263.6
China 2,144.6 1,932.6 212.0
Korea, Republic of 1,313.5 2,516.4 -1,202.9
Thailand 1,234.0 1,453.4 -219.4
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account 3,347.0
     Balance on goods -1,253.0
         Imports -36,095.0
         Exports 34,842.0
     Balance on services -1,227.0
     Balance on income 5,215.0
     Current transfers 612.0
Capital Account 21.0
Financial Account -5,533.0
     Direct investment abroad -158.0
     Direct investment in Philippines 319.0
     Portfolio investment assets -1,586.0
     Portfolio investment liabilities 880.0
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets -13,307.0
     Other investment liabilities 8,319.0
Net Errors and Omissions 2,081.0
Reserves and Related Items 84.0
() data not available or not significant.

Between 1996, exports surged from $20.5 billion to $38.1 billion. Imports reached $38.6 billion in 1997, but by 2000 had dropped to $33.8 billion. The 1999 and 2000 trade surpluses were the first since 1973; during the intervening period, expensive mineral fuel imports had thrown the balance into a deficit. In 2004, exports totaled $38.8 billion and imports totaled $44.7 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $5.9 billion. The current account recorded a surplus of $2.2 billion in 2004, or 2.6% of GDP.

Traditionally, exports of primary products failed to balance imports, leading the government to restrict imports. Structural change accelerated in the 1970s, as the contribution of industry (including construction) to GDP rose from 29.5% in 1970 to 36.5% by 1980, primarily as a result of export-oriented industrialization promoted by the Marcos government. The Aquino assassination in August 1983 had immediate economic consequences for the Marcos government, as did the broader Third World Debt Crisis. Hundreds of millions of dollars in private capital fled the Philippines, leaving the country with insufficient foreign exchange reserves to meet its payments obligations. The government turned to the IMF and its creditor banks for assistance in rescheduling the nation's foreign debt, and an austerity program was set up during 198485. In December 1986, under IMF guidance, the Aquino government launched a privatization program with the establishment of the Assets Privatization Trust (APT). Monopolies established under the Marcos administration in coconuts, sugar, meat, grains, and fertilizer were dismantled and a ban on copra exports was lifted. All export taxes were abolished; and the government allowed free access to lower-cost or higher-quality imports as a means of improving the cost-competitiveness of domestic producers.

Many difficulties remained, however. The prices of commodity exports, such as sugar, copper, and coconut products, were still weak, while demand for nontraditional manufactured products, such as clothing and electronic components, failed to rise. The structural reforms produced an initial recovery between 1986 and 1989, but this was arrested by the series of natural disasters in 199091. In 1986, Aquino had also embarked on a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme, but its goals remain unfulfilled.

In the 1990s, the government concluded three additional financial arrangements with the IMFa stand-by agreement signed 20 February 1991 for about $240 million; an arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) signed 24 June 1994 for about $554 million, and a stand-by agreement signed 1 April 1998 for about $715 million. At the end of 2002, the Philippines owed over 140% of its quota to the Fund. Scheduled debt repayments to the IMF for 2003 were about $330 million, and outstanding loans and purchases are not due to be retired until at least 2007. The country also had five debt reschedulings in the period 1984 to 1991 with the Paris Clubfor official debt owed to aid donor countrieson which some payments are still owing.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

The Philippine banking structure consists of the government-owned Central Bank of the Philippines (created in 1949), which acts as the government's fiscal agent and administers the monetary and banking system; and some 45 commercial banks, of which 17 are foreign-majority-owned. Other institutions include more than 111 thrift banks, 787 rural banks, 38 private development banks, 7 savings banks, and 10 investment houses, and two specialized government banks. The largest commercial bank, the Philippine National Bank (PNB), is a government institution with over 194 local offices and 12 overseas branches. It supplies about half the commercial credit, basically as agricultural loans. The government operates about 1,145 postal savings banks and the Development Bank of the Philippines, the Land Bank of the Philippines, and the Philippine Amanah Bank (for Mindanao). There are also 13 offshore banking units in the country, and 26 foreign bank representative offices. Total assets reached approximately $65 billion in March 2001, 39% of which belonged to the five largest banks. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $7.7 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $41.9 billion. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 8.298%.

Philippine stock exchanges are self-governing, although the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), established in 1936, has supervisory power over registrants. The country's two stock exchanges, Manila and Makati (both in the capital), were formally merged into the Philippines Stock Exchange (PSE) in March 1993. A computer link-up was effected a year later, although the two retained separate trading floors until November 1995. Only 220 companies were listed as of 1998. But the process of privatization is expected to push up listings, while domestic participation in the equity market is being specifically promoted by new regulations requiring that all initial public offerings reserve a 10% tranche for small investors. Before the Asian crisis, market capitalization of publicly listed companies had grown to $89 billion, or six times the amount of 1992. But in 1998, only 10 of the largest companies accounted for more than half of trading volume. In 2000, a financial scandal in which the SEC failed to regulate the market properly drove the stock market down by a quarter and destroyed investor confidence. In 2000, market capitalization was a mere 38% of the previous year, and only 12% of the peak level in 1996. As of 2004, a total of 233 companies were listed on the PSE, which had a market capitalization of $28.948 billion. In 2004, the PSE Composite Index rose 26.4% from the previous year to 1,822.8.

INSURANCE

The Government Service Insurance System (GIS), a government organization set up in 1936, provides life, permanent disability, accident, old age pension, burial insurance and salary and real estate loan benefits. Compulsory third-party motor liability insurance went into effect on 1 January 1976. In addition, workers' compensation and personal accident insurance for workers abroad are compulsory. The Insurance Commission of the Department of Finance oversees the insurance industry.

Life and nonlife insurance companies provide coverage against theft, fire, marine loss, accident, embezzlement, third-party liability, and other risks. In 2003, a total of $1.192 billion in direct insurance premiums were written, of which life insurance premiums accounted for $702 million. In 2003, Malayan Insurance was the Philippines' top nonlife insurer, with gross written nonlife premiums of $60.5 million. In 2000 (the latest year for which data was available), the leading life insurer was Philam Life and General, with gross written life insurance premiums of $161.3 million.

PUBLIC FINANCE

The principal sources of revenue are income taxes, taxes on sales and business operations, and excise duties. Infrastructural improvements, defense expenditures, and debt service continue to lead among the categories of outlays. The government's commitment to fiscal balance resulted in a budget surplus for the first time in two decades in 1994. The surplus was achieved by higher taxes, privatization receipts, and expenditure cuts. The Philippines was not affected as severely by the Asian financial crisis of 1998 as many of its overseas neighbors, as a result of over $7 billion in remittances annually by workers overseas.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 the Philippines' central government took in revenues of approximately $12.3 billion and had expenditures of $15.7 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$3.3 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 77.4% of GDP. Total external debt was $67.62 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2003, the most recent year for which it had data, budgetary central government revenues were p628.71 billion and expenditures were p833.68 billion. The value of revenues was us$12 million and expenditures us$15 million, based on a market exchange rate for 2003 of us$1 = p54.203 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 54.2%; defense, 4.9%; public order and safety, 6.4%; economic affairs, 12.4%; housing and community amenities, 0.2%; health, 1.6%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.7%; education, 15.5%; and social protection, 4.1%.

TAXATION

The individual income tax consists of taxes on compensation income (from employment), business income, and passive income (interests, dividends, royalties, and prizes). As of 2005, personal income was taxed on a progressive scale with a top rate of 32%.

In 2000, the business income tax rate was lowered from 33% to 32%, where it stood as of 2005. For resident foreign corporations, after-tax profits remitted abroad to the head office are subject to a 15% tax. Corporations registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), the Board of Investment (BOI), the Bases Conversion Development Authority, or operating in independent special economic zones (ecozones), are eligible for special tax and customs incentives, exemptions and reductions designed to attract foreign, new, necessary and/or export-oriented foreign investment. The capital gains tax is 6% on real property; 5% on gains of p100,000 or less from the sale of stock not listed on the stock exchange, and 10% on gains over p100,000. Dividends are not subject to taxation if paid from one domestic corporation to another domestic corporation, or to resident foreign corporations. However, dividends paid to nonresident companies are generally subject to a 32% withholding tax, which can be reduced to 15%, under certain circumstances. Some cities, such as Manila, levy their own wholesale and retail sales taxes.

Taxes on transactions include a value-added tax (VAT) of 10%. For smaller businesses not registered with the VAT a percentage sales tax of 3% on quarterly sales is applied. Higher rates for activities

Revenue and Grants 628.71 100.0%
     Tax revenue 537.36 85.5%
     Social contributions
     Grants 1.2 0.2%
     Other revenue 90.15 14.3%
Expenditures 833.68 100.0%
     General public services 451.76 54.2%
     Defense 40.65 4.9%
     Public order and safety 53.5 6.4%
     Economic affairs 103.4 12.4%
     Environmental protection
     Housing and community amenities 1.75 0.2%
     Health 12.98 1.6%
     Recreational, culture, and religion 6.14 0.7%
     Education 129.6 15.5%
     Social protection 33.93 4.1%
() data not available or not significant.

involving issues of public morality: cockpits are taxed 18%, cabarets, 18% and jai-alai and racetracks, 30%.

Excise taxes are imposed on selected commodities such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, jewelry and petroleum products. In addition, the government levies a variety of other taxes, including mining and petroleum taxes, residence taxes, a head tax on immigrants above a certain age and staying beyond a certain period, document stamp taxes, donor (gift) taxes, estate taxes, and capital gains taxes. A document stamp tax is charged on stock certificates, proofs of indebtedness, proofs of ownership, etc.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

The Philippines, under its commitments to ASEAN, must accelerate its tariff reductions as part of in its AFTA Common Preferential Tariff (CEPT) Inclusion List. The Philippines, as a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, is also committed to the establishment of free trade in the region and is expected to eliminate intra-regional barriers by 2020. The government developed a separate plan in 1996 to lower tariffs to no more than 3% on raw materials and 10% on finished products by January 2003, and a uniform 5% tariff rate by January 2004. There is also a value-added tax (VAT) of 10% on almost all imports and excise taxes are levied on alcohol and tobacco products, automobiles, and other luxury items.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Investments have been concentrated in manufactures for exports, utilities, mining, petroleum refining, and export-oriented agriculture, with accelerating interest in labor-intensive textiles, footwear, electronics, and other nontraditional export industries. Investment is affected by import controls, exchange controls, and equity controls that favor Filipino participation in foreign ventures. Attempts to liberalize the economy of the Philippines are fighting three centuries of entrenched interests. Filipino political science research points out the influence and effects of Spanish colonialism that delivered the control of politics and economics into the hands of a small number of families. In the name of nationalism these families legislated against foreign competition in the 1950s. Serious restructuring began in the wake of the Third World debt crisis and the turn to the IMF for assistance. The Omnibus Investments Code of 1987 generally limited foreign equity ownership to 40%, but allowed 100% foreign ownership in a "pioneer" priority industry identified in the annual Investment Priorities Plan (IPP). Special encouragement was given to pioneer manufacturing endeavors, export-oriented and labor-intensive industries, projects outside metropolitan Manila, and to joint ventures with a minimum of 60% Filipino capitalization. The structural reforms produced an initial recovery between 1986 and 1989, but this was arrested by the series of natural disasters in 199091.

The Foreign Investment Act of 1991 (FIA) further liberalized the investment climate of the Philippines. The FIA permits 100% foreign ownership, without prior BOI approval, of companies engaged in any activity not included in the foreign investment negative list. The foreign investment negative list is comprised of three categories where foreign investment is fully or partially restricted by the constitution or by specific laws. In all three categories foreign ownership is restricted to between zero and 40%. Restriction on setting up export processing zones has also been considerably relaxed. The development of special economic zones began with the transformation of the former US military bases into enterprise zones, the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) and the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) according to the Bases Conversion Act of 1992.

The Export Development Act of 1994 signaled the government's conversion from an import substitution model of industrial development to an export-led growth model, more in line with its Asian tiger neighbors. The banking and insurance sectors were also significantly liberalized by legislation in 1994. Since 1948 the four existing foreign banks had not been allowed to open branches. Under a 1994 law, each was allowed to open up to six new branches, plus up to 10 new foreign full-service banks could be licensed with up to six branches each. Insurance was opened to 100% foreign ownership but such that the higher the percent foreign ownership, the higher minimum capital requirements. Rural banking, however, continues to remain closed to foreign investment. The next year, in 1995, the Special Economic Zone Act, and separate laws for independent ecozones in Zoambanga and Cayagyu, established the framework for the collection of four government-managed ecozones and over 40 private ecozones, all with liberalized incentives to attract foreign investment. Amendments to the FIA in 1996 enhanced the investor-friendly framework, albeit leaving the country vulnerable to the rapid divestments of the Asian financial crisis the next year. With recovery, the government embarked on further reforms aimed at attracting foreign investors.

In May 2000, the General Banking Law (GBL), in addition to strengthening the supervisory role of the Bangko Sentral ng Philippines (BSP), allowed 100% ownership of distressed banks. Also in 2000, the Estrada administration opened the retail trade and grain milling businesses to foreign investment.

There remain, however, major restrictions on foreign investments in the Philippines besides the natural hindrances that this most disaster-prone of countries is liable to, not the least of which is the complexity and detail of the investment regime. Under the FIA, the government is obliged to promulgate a Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) consisting of a List A of foreign ownership limited by the constitution and specific laws, and a List B of foreign ownership limited for reasons of security, defense, risk to health and morals and protection of small and medium-scale enterprises.

In 2002 President Arroyo issued the Fifth FINL. On List A, by its terms, no foreign equity was to be allowed in the mass media except recording, nor in any of the licensed professions including law, medicine, accounting, engineering, environmental planning, interior design, teaching, and architecture. Small scale retail and mining, private security, utilization of marine resources, the operation of cockpits, and the manufacture of fireworks, are off-limits to foreigners, as are, on another level, the manufacture and stockpiling of nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological weapons. Only a maximum of 20% ownership is allowed a private radio communications network; only up to 25% in employee recruitment industries, public works construction projects (though with important exceptions for infrastructure/development projects, and those built with foreign aid); only up to 30% in ad agencies; only up to 40% in natural resource extraction projects (though the president can authorize up to 100%), ownership of private lands, ownership of condominiums, educational institutions, public utilities, commercial deep sea fishing, government procurement contracts, adjustment companies, and rice and corn processing (with at least 60% divestment to Filipino citizens required after 30 years of operation); and only up to 60% in financial and investment houses. On the B list for 2002, foreign ownership was restricted to 40% in manufacture of firearms, ammunition, explosives, military ordnance, dangerous drugs, saunas, steambaths, massage parlors, all forms of gambling, local businesses not engaged in exporting with paid-in capital of less than $200,000 and local businesses that involved advanced technology or employed at least 50 persons with paid-in capital of less than $100,000.

In 2001, President Arroyo, a trained economist, launched a high profile campaign to attract foreign investment. Former president Fidel Ramos and four other senior government officials were appointed as envoys to promote trade and investment. Against strong nationalist opposition, her administration passed the Electric Power Industry Reform Act that required the National Power Corporation (NPC) to privatize at least 70% of its generating assets by 2004. NPCs transmission assets were fully privatized and opened up to the maximum 40% foreign ownership allowed for public utilities. 2001, in fact, turned out to be a banner year for foreign investment in the Philippines, which increased 171% to $3.4 billion (about $2 billion FDI and $1.4 billion portfolio investment), all the more remarkable because of the decline by 50% worldwide in foreign investments that year, and because of the Philippines' emergence as a front in the war on terrorism, thanks to the Abu Sayyaf organization and its close links to al-Qaeda. The Philippines' newly deregulated and privatized energy sector was the main draw, the center piece being the Malampaya natural gas project, which was officially inaugurated on 16 October 2001 following the completion of its 312-mile (504-km) undersea pipeline and the conversion of three power plants in Batangas to natural gas usage.

The Philippine government, despite its attempts to attract more foreign investment, has failed to invest in the infrastructure that is crucial to foreign and domestic investorsroads, communications, healthcare, and education. The government has been unable to address the issues of congestion and pollution in Manila. Nevertheless, in 2002 FDI increased to $1.7 billion, but dropped to $318 million in 2003. Nine-month FDI from January to September 2004 amounted to $330 million, which was an increase of 30.4% over the same period in 2003, but remained low when compared with previous years.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Beginning in 1972, the main tenets of the Marcos government's economic policies, as articulated through the National Economic Development Authority, included substantial development of infrastructure, particularly through the use of labor-intensive rather than capital-intensive (i.e., mechanized) methods, and a shift in export emphasis from raw materials to finished and semifinished commodities. The policies of the Aquino administration have stressed labor-intensive, small and medium-scale agricultural projects and extensive land reform. In addition, wealth believed to have been amassed by President Marcos was actively being pursued all over the world. Long-range planning has followed a series of economic plans, most of them covering five-year periods. The development program for 196770 aimed to increase the growth rate of per capita income from the 0.9% level in 196165 to 2.4%; to increase national income by 5.7% per year during the plan period, and to reduce the unemployment rate from 13% (1965) to 7.2% (1970). The government invested $3.5 billion in integrating the traditional and modern sectors of the economy. Marcos's first long-range plan following the 1972 declaration of martial law was a four-year (197477) infrastructure development program calling for 35% to be expended on transportation, 33% on energy and power, 20% on water resources, 10% on education, health, and welfare, and 2% on telecommunications. A 197478 plan, announced in late 1975, envisioned energy as the major focus of the new plan, with 34% of expenditures, followed by transportation, 30%; water resources, 23%; social programs, 7%; and other sectors, 6%. The goals of the 197882 plan included an 8% annual growth in GNP, rural development, tax incentives for export-oriented industries, continued self-sufficiency in grain crops despite rapid population growth, and accelerated development of highways, irrigation, and other infrastructure. The 198387 plan called for an annual expansion of 6.2% in GNP, improvement of the rural economy and living standards, and amelioration of hunger.

Under the Aquino administration the goals of the 198792 plan were self-sufficiency in food production, decentralization of power and decision making, job creation, and rural development. Economic performance for real growth fell far short of plan targets by 25% or more. Structural changes to provide a better investment climate were carried out. The Foreign Investment Act of 1991 liberalized the environment for foreign investment. An executive order issued in July 1991 reduced the number of tariff levels over five years and reduced the maximum duty rate from 50% to 30%. Quantitative restrictions were removed from all but a few products. The foreign exchange market was fully deregulated in 1992.

A new six-year medium-term development plan for 199398 was presented by the government in May 1993. The plan stressed people empowerment and international competitiveness within the framework of sustainable development. To do this, the government planned to disperse industries to regions outside the metropolitan Manila area. The plan also called for technological upgrading of production sectors, poverty alleviation, and human/social development. Over the six year period, agriculture's share of GDP was expected to decline from 23% to 19% of GDP while industry's share was to increase from 34% to 39%. The Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) for 1999 through 2004 focused on rural development, especially on the modernization of the agricultural sector. The MTPDP targeted agricultural growth from 2.6% to 3.4% during the plan's time-frame, as well as growth in the industrial and service sectors. The Philippines finished three years of IMF supervision in March 1998, only to be hit by the Asian financial crisis. Financial assistance continued in 1998 and 1999 through the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and Japan's Overseas Economic Cooperation Development Fund.

By 2006, the primary economic policy challenge confronting the government was to bring the public finances back into balance, allowing increased expenditure on areas such as infrastructure, education, and healthcare. The fiscal deficit had been pushed up due to poor tax administration, which saw revenue fall relative to GDP. The ballooning public debt is a problem, at 77.4% of GDP in 2005. Interest payments account for a third of all public spending. Nevertheless, the stock market in mid-2005 was at a five-year peak, and the peso was at its highest against the dollar since mid-2003. Applications for investment incentives had more than doubled in 2004 and were also high in 2005.

In the mid-2000s, the economies of Southeast Asia revolved around trade. In 2004, the region experienced a 6.3% GDP growth rate, largely due to a double-digit increase in exports. But looking solely to exports as a means to promote growth is risky: what is needed is a revival of domestic consumption, which would help insulate the region from the vagaries of the world economy. The only country where exports did not make a significant contribution to growth by 2005 was the Philippines, where almost all growth was attributable to domestic demand. Instead of being a mark of strength, however, this was a mark of economic weakness. Due to the billions of dollars of remittances that Filipinos working overseas send to their families back home, consumer spending in the Philippines is robust. However, the economy does not grow fast enough to provide jobs for those Filipinos who must find work overseas.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

The Social insurance system covers employees up to age 60, including domestic workers and the self-employed. Membership for employers is compulsory. Benefits include compensation for confinement due to injury or illness, pensions for temporary incapacity, indemnities to families in case of death, old age pensions, and benefits to widows and orphans. Charges to cover the system are paid jointly by employers and employees and according to 29 wage classes. The government funds any deficit. Retirement is at age 60 for most workers. A medical care plan for employees provides hospital, surgical, medicinal, and medical-expense benefits to members and their dependents, as well as paid maternity leave.

A handful of women enjoy high prestige and visibility, but most women occupy traditional social roles and occupations. Unemployment rates are higher for women, and women continue to earn less than men. Sexual harassment in the workplace is widespread, and goes largely unreported because women are afraid of losing their jobs. Spousal abuse and violence remain serious concerns. The absence of divorce laws and lack of economic opportunity keep women in destructive relationships. The government has enacted various measures to safeguard the rights of children. Child prostitution, while illegal, is widespread and has contributed to the growing sex-tourism industry. Some human rights violations remain, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and disappearances.

HEALTH

In 2004, there were an estimated 116 physicians, 56 dentists, 442 nurses, and 179 midwives per 100,000 people. There were 1,663 hospitals, 562 of which were operated by the government and 1,101 in the private sector. Government-financed child health malnutrition and early education programs are already well established in the Philippines. These programs suffer from chronic underfunding in terms of inadequate equipment, numbers of field-level staff, and other operating expenses. Government hospitals had 46,388 beds and private hospitals had 35,309. In addition, there were 2,299 rural health units. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 3.6% of GDP.

Pulmonary infections (tuberculosis, pneumonia, bronchitis) are prevalent. Malnutrition remains a health problem despite government assistance in the form of Nutripaks (consisting of indigenous foods such as mung beans and powdered shrimp) that are made available for infants, children, and pregnant women. It was estimated that 32% of children under five years old were considered malnourished. Protein malnutrition, anemia, and vitamin A and iodine deficiencies are commonly found in children. The goiter rate was 6.9 per 100. Heart disease is the third most common cause of death in the Philippines.

During the 1980s, a nationwide primary health care program was implemented. As a result, community involvement in health services increased, the prevalence of communicable diseases decreased, and the nutritional state of the population improved. Obesity and hypertension are more common in the cities. Approximately 87% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 83% had adequate sanitation. Children up to one year of age were immunized against tuberculosis, 91%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 85%; polio, 86%; and measles, 96%. The rate for both DPT and measles was 79%.

The infant mortality rate declined from 78.4 per 1,000 live births in 1972 to 23.51 in 2005. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 26.9 and 6 per 1,000 people. Maternal mortality was 170 per 100,000 live births. In 2000, 47% of married women (ages 15 to 49) were using contraception. Average life expectancy was 69.91 years in 2005.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 9,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 500 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

HOUSING

Construction is largely undertaken by the private sector, with the support of government agencies. The Ministry of Human Settlements (MHS), created in 1978, sets housing programs in motion. Its first major program was the Bagong Lipunon Improvement of Sites and Services (BLISS), which undertook 445 projects involving 6,712 units housing 40,272 people. As with many programs begun during the Marcos administration, the projects became ridden with scandal.

More creditable was the Pag-IBIG fund, which was set up to promote savings for housing and provide easy-term housing loans, with contributions from individuals, banks, industries, and the government. By the end of 1985, p98 million in loans had been provided to 171,585 members. The Aquino administration offered tax exemptions to domestic corporations and partnerships with at least 300 employees that invest funds in housing. Over 5 million housing units were built in the period 198190.

At the 2000 census, there were 15,278,808 households in the Philippines with an average household size of 5 members. Most housing units are single-family detached homes. About 71% of all housing was owner occupied. Only about 27% of all households have their own community service-connected faucet for drinking water. A majority of households get their water from wells, river, lakes, and other bodies of water. Only 41% of all households had a privately used septic system.

Tens of thousands of barrios are scattered throughout the Philippines, each consisting of a double row of small cottages strung out along a single road. Each cottage is generally built on stilts and has a thatched roof, veranda, and small yard.

EDUCATION

Education is free for primary school and compulsory for six years and is coeducational. English is the main medium of instruction, although Pilipino or the local vernacular is used for instruction in the lower primary grades. Primary school lasts for four years, followed by two years of intermediate school. Students may then move on to four years of secondary school. The academic year runs from June to March.

In 2001, about 33% of all five-year-olds were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 94% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 59% of age-eligible students; 54% for boys and 65% for girls. It is estimated that about 95.2% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 35:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 37:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 7% of primary school enrollment and 20.5% of secondary enrollment.

The University of the Philippines, in Quezon City, with branches in major islands, is the leading institution of higher learning. In addition, there are some 50 other universities, including the University of Santo Tomás, founded in 1611 and run by the Dominican friars. In 2003, about 30% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 92.6%.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 3.1% of GDP, or 17.8% of total government expenditures.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

The National Library in Manila has an estimated 1.2 million volumes. The Filipiniana and Asia Division contains over 100,000 Filipiniana books. Large libraries are in the universities, notably the University of the Philippines (948,000 volumes), the University of Santo Tomás (822,000), the University of the East (177,900), and the University of San Carlos. The International Rice Research Institute in Manila holds 160,000 volumes. There are over 940 public libraries across the country, with about 580 as city or municipal libraries.

The National Museum in Manila collects and exhibits materials and conducts research in anthropology, ethnography, archaeology, botany, geology, history, and maps. The University of Santo Tomás Museum contains an art gallery and archaeology and anthropology collections. Three relatively new museums in Manila exhibit primarily art: Lopez Memorial Museum (1960) exhibits Filipino painters; Metropolitan Museum (1976) exhibits a variety of art forms; and the Philippines Presidential Museum (1986) exhibits fine and decorative arts. The Ateneo Art Museum in Quezon City features post-World War II Philippine paintings, and there is a Mabini Shrine in Tonauan, featuring relics of Apolinaria Mabina, a leader of Philippine independence.

MEDIA

There are four nationwide telephone networks, including the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, run mainly by the private sector, with services concentrated in urban areas. Overseas communications operate via satellites and undersea cables. In 2003, there were an estimated 41 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 270 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Radio and television are operated by both government agencies and private concerns. Radio transmitting stations numbered over 700 in 2005, and there were 75 television stations in 2000. In 2003, there were an estimated 161 radios and 182 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 37 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribes. Also in 2003, there were 27.7 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 44 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 161 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

In 2002 there were about 50 major daily newspapers, as compared with six during the Marcos era. The leading dailies published in metropolitan Manila (with language of publication and estimated 2002 circulation) are: People Tonight (English/Filipino, 500,000), Abante (English/Filipino, 350,000), Ang Filipino Ngayon (Filipino, 286,450), Philippine Star (English, 275,000), Manila Bulletin (English, 265,000), Philippine Daily Inquirer (English, 250,000), Tempo (English/Filipino, 230,000), People's Journal (English/Filipino, 219,000), Manila Times (English, 194,000), Malaya (English, 175,000), and Balita (Filipino, 151,000).

Under martial law, censorship of the press, radio, and television was imposed by the Marcos government. Many reporters, editors, and publishers were arrested during this period. Censorship was revoked under the Aquino administration. However, there are reports of threats, assaults, and killings of journalists who report on illegal activities such as gambling, logging, prostitution, and the drug trade among powerful individuals or groups, especially outside Manila.

ORGANIZATIONS

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry has branches in metropolitan Manila and other important cities, and there are associations of producers and industrial firms in many areas. The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines based in Quezon City represents over 1.4 million people. There are many associations of persons active in such fields as agriculture, architecture, art, biology, chemistry, economics, library service, literature, engineering, medicine, nutrition, veterinary service, and the press. The multinational ASEAN Confederation of Employers is located in Makati City, with that office coordinated in part by the Employers' Confederation of the Philippines.

The Philippine Academy is the oldest and best-known scholarly organization. The National Research Council of the Philippines promotes research and education in physical and social sciences and the humanities. A number of professional associations also promote public research and education in specific fields, particularly those involved in medical research and healthcare, such as the Philippine Medical Association, the Philippine National AIDS Council, and the Philippine Diabetes Association.

National youth organizations include the National Youth Parliament, League of Filipino Students, National Indigenous Youth, Junior Chamber, National Union of Students of the Philippines, Student Christian Federation of the Philippines, Young Christian Workers of The Philippines, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, and YMCA/YWCA. Sports associations are popular throughout the country. The International Bowling Federation is based in Pasig City.

There are several national organizations focusing on women's rights, including the Philippine Association of University Women and the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women. Kiwanis and Lion's Clubs have programs in the country. The Asian Volunteers' Network for Human Rights in the Philippines is based in Quezon City. International organizations with national chapters include CARE Philippines, Defence for Children International, UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity, Amnesty International, and the Red Cross.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

The increase in tourism that followed the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos was dampened by the national disasters of the early 1990s. The tourism industry has since rebounded. Manila remains the chief tourist attraction. Other points of interest are the 2,000-year-old rice terraces north of Baguio; Vigan, the old Spanish capital; Cebu, the oldest city; numerous beaches and mountain wilderness areas; and homes formerly owned by the Marcoses. Basketball is the national sport, followed in popularity by baseball and football (soccer). Jai-alai is popular in Manila and Cebu. Cockfighting is legal and often televised. Each tourist must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket; no visa is required for stays of up to 21 days.

In 2003, about 1.9 million tourists arrived in the Philippines. Over 58% of the tourists arrived from East Asia and the Pacific; North Americans accounted for close to 25%. There were 21,409 hotel rooms with 42,818 beds and a 60% occupancy rate that year. Tourism expenditure receipts totaled $1.5 billion.

According to 2005 US Department of State estimates, the cost of staying in Manila was $199 per day.

FAMOUS FILIPINOS

Filipinos have made their most important marks in the political arena. Foremost are José Rizal (186196), a distinguished novelist, poet, physician, linguist, statesman, and national hero; Andrés Bonifacio (186397), the leader of the secret Katipunan movement against Spain; and Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy (18691964), the commander of the revolutionary forces and president of the revolutionary First Philippine Republic (1899). Notable Filipinos of the 20th century include Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina (18781944), the first Commonwealth president; Ramón Magsaysay (190757), a distinguished leader in the struggle with the Hukbalahaps; and Carlos Peña Rómulo (18991985), a Pulitzer Prizewinning author and diplomat and the president of the fourth UN General Assembly. Ferdinand Edralin Marcos (191789), who won distinction as a guerrilla fighter during the Japanese occupation, was the dominant political figure in the Philippines from his first election to the presidency in November 1965 to his ouster in February 1986. His wife, Imelda Romualdez Marcos (b.1929), emerged as a powerful force within her husband's government during the 1970s. Leading critics of the Marcos government during the late 1970s and early 1980s were Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. (193383) and Jaime Sin (19282005), who became the archbishop of Manila in 1974 and a cardinal in 1976. Maria Corazon Cojuangco Aquino (b.1933), the widow of Benigno, opposed Marcos for the presidency in February 1986 and took office when he went into exile in the same month. Fidel Valdez Ramos (b.1928) succeeded Corazon Aquino and governed from 1992 until 1998, when he was succeeded by Joseph Estrada (b.1937). Estrada led the country from 19982001; Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (b.1947) succeeded him in 2001.

Lorenzo Ruiz (fl.17th cent.) was canonized, along with 15 companion martyrs, as the first Filipino saint. Fernando M. Guerrero (18731929) was the greatest Philippine poet in Spanish. Two painters of note were Juan Luna y Novicio (185799) and Félix Resurrección Hidalgo y Padilla (18531913). Contemporary writers who have won recognition include Claro M. Recto (18901960), José García Villa (191497), and Carlos Bulosan (191456). José A. Estella (18701945) is the best-known Filipino composer. Filipino prizefighters have included two world champions, Pancho Villa (Francisco Guilledo, 190125) and Ceferino García (191081).

DEPENDENCIES

The Philippines has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Altbach, Philip G. and Toru Umakoshi (eds.). Asian Universities: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Challenges. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.

Dolan, Ronald E. (ed.). Philippines: A Country Study. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1993.

Goldoftas, Barbara. Green Tiger: The Costs of Economic Decline in the Philippines. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Guillermo, Artemio R. and May Kyi Win. Historical Dictionary of the Philippines. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 2005.

Leibo, Steven A. East and Southeast Asia, 2005. 38th ed. Harpers Ferry, W.Va.: Stryker-Post Publications, 2005.

Rodriguez, Socorro M. Philippine Science and Technology: Economic, Political and Social Events Shaping Their Development. Quezon City, Philippines: Giraffe Books, 1996.

Smith, Paul J. (ed.). Terrorism and Violence in Southeast Asia: Transnational Challenges to States and Regional Stability. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2005.

The University of the Philippines Cultural Dictionary for Filipinos. Edited by Thelma B. Kintanar. Quezon City, Philippines: University of Philippines Press and Anvil Publishing, 1996.

Vos, Rob. The Philippine Economy: East Asia's Stray Cat?: Structure, Finance, and Adjustment. New York: St. Martin's, 1996.

Women's Role in Philippine History: Selected Essays. 2nd ed. Quezon City, Philippines: University of Philippines, Center for Women's Studies, 1996.

views updated

THE PHILIPPINES

Republic of the Philippines

Major Cities:
Manila, Quezon City, Cebu City, Baguio, Davao City

Other Cities:
Bacolod, Batangas, Butuan, Iligan, Iloilo City, San Pablo, Zamboanga

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated August 1994. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

The Republic of the PHILIPPINES , though Asian, bears the imprint of European and American influence. Not only is the Philippines one of the largest English-speaking countries in the world, it is the only Christian country in Asia.

This Pacific island nation was under Spanish control for nearly 400 years after it was first visited in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan on his expedition around the world. The country eventually was named Islas Felipinas for the child who was to become King Philip II of Spain.

After close to a half-century of American rule, the Philippines gained its independence in 1946. The country made great strides in achieving a national identity and a political and strategic importance in Asia.

Because of the country's strategic importance, the U.S. had for many years maintained military bases there, mainly Clark Airbase and Subic Bay Naval Base. However, disagreements over the military treaty covering the bases led to a U.S. withdrawal of forces in 1992. The departure of U.S. troops poses questions about Philippine and Southeast Asian defense, as well as the future of the Philippine economy.

MAJOR CITIES

Manila

Metropolitan Manila, located on the main island of Luzon, is the capital and the major city along the coastal lowlands of Manila Bay and the Pasig River. The bay forms one of the largest and finest landlocked harbors in the Far East, and is Manila's outstanding feature. It is rimmed by distant mountains and islands, dotted by ships, and frequently framed by flamboyant sunsets. Roxas (formerly Dewey) Boulevard, which follows the shoreline for several miles, quickly becomes a familiar landmark. It is lined with modern office buildings, embassies, hotels, restaurants, the Philippine Cultural Center complex, and large apartment houses. This boulevard, along with the modern commercial and residential areas of suburban Makati, typifies the contrasts which exist in Manila: on one side of the street is a five-star hotel, on the other, a shanty town of squatters built on land reclaimed from Manila Bay.

The architectural styles of Manila manifest the influence of 400 years of Spanish domination, nearly 50 years of American rule, and modern trends developed in buildings erected or reconstructed since World War II.

The social habits of people in Manila are superficially Occidental and the society is cosmopolitan. Western clothes predominate, but there is some adherence to local traditional dress. The majority of Filipinos speak English.

Manila was established as a fortified colony by López de Legaspi in 1571, and was developed by Spanish missionaries. It became an important commercial center under Spanish rule. The city was taken by the English in 1762, but was recaptured for Spain two years later. The United States won control in the Battle of Manila Bay (August 1898), during the Spanish-American War. World War II took a heavy toll on the city, reducing to rubble much of the 16th-century Spanish architecture of the old walled city, Intramuros; only the Church of San Agustín was spared. The devastation wrought is considered second only to that of Warsaw. The Japanese, who had occupied the city from 1942, were ousted in 1945. Manila Cathedral, the seat of the Catholic archdiocese, was rebuilt in 1958, as was almost the entire city during the post-war years. Manila proper, known as the "Pearl of the Orient," is now a modern metropolis with a population of 1.6 million (2000 est.).

Most streets in the city are of concrete or asphalt, but many are constantly in a state of disrepair; side streets are often narrow and hazardous. Road surfaces deteriorate rapidly during the rainy season, and are marked by potholes of all sizes. Traffic is congested, especially during rush hours. Driving is not orderly. Air pollution is a continuing problem.

More that 150 American business concerns are located in Manila, and many more have agencies or representatives here. The oldest foreign-based American Chamber of Commerce has offices on the Paseo de Roxas, Manila's famous shoreline boulevard. The expatriate community includes more than 150,000 Chinese and a large number of Americans, Spaniards, Japanese, Indians, British, Germans, Swiss, and people of other nationalities. The tourist trade has increased in recent years but, still, fewer Americans stop in Manila than at other Far East spots. Most U.S. visitors here are on business.

Greater Manila's population, which includes Quezon City, Pasay City, Caloocan City, and Pasig, is estimated at almost ten million. Although the official capital of the Philippines is Quezon City, 13 miles from downtown Manila, its development remains in the planning stages and only a few government agencies are located here.

Clothing

Cotton and other lightweight clothing is worn year round in the Philippines; however, woolen clothing, including topcoats, is needed for visits to Baguio or travel to Hong Kong, Tapei, or Tokyo during winter. Sweaters and shawls are useful in air-conditioned rooms and at night in the cooler months. Nylon clothing is usually too warm and uncomfortable during very hot months. Cotton or cotton/synthetic mixtures are recommended.

Manila is a style-conscious city, and the latest European and American fashions are followed. There are some variations in Cebu City but, in general, members of the diplomatic and business communities are well dressed.

Clothes wear out quickly because of the climate and frequent laundering. Shoes deteriorate more rapidly during the rainy season and because of poor sidewalk conditions. Unless you store clothing in air-conditioned rooms or dry closets, air it occasionally to prevent mildew.

Women find that cotton, cotton-blend, or linen dresses are worn and acceptable everywhere and, depending on style, are suitable for almost every occasion. Shorts and slacks should be worn only for sports or at home. Cocktail dresses of silks, brocades, laces, chiffons, and fine linen also are popular and comfortable. Dressmakers can make all types of women's clothing from the casual to haute couture ; prices and results vary accordingly. Ready-made women's shoes in sizes larger than 8 are difficult to find, but shoes can be made to order inexpensively.

Men wear tropical worsted and Palm Beach-type suits during the cooler months and, if they anticipate a full social schedule, will need black-tie attire. Washable suits are convenient and practical, but dry cleaning is readily available. Dacron and cotton blends are most useful. After arrival, most men enjoy the practical comfort of the Barong Tagalog, a traditional Filipino shirt. It is loose fitting, usually made of sheer material with embroidered collar, cuffs, and front, and is worn outside the trousers both day and evening.

White daytime shirts of porous summer-weight fabric are needed. Short-sleeved shirts are acceptable in offices, and cotton sport shirts are most useful for leisure hours. Long-sleeved shirts are needed in Baguio. Locally made men's shoes are not of the best quality and U.S. made shoes are quite expensive.

Children wear the same type of clothing in the Philippines as they do in the U.S. They spend much of their time out-of-doors, and need many changes of washable, durable, play clothes. Teenage styles generally follow American fads.

Any special dress considerations for children attending school in the Philippines can be easily met after arrival. Lightweight rainwear is a necessity for small children. Students attending Brent School in Baguio need warmer clothing than is called for in Manila.

Laundry is customarily done at home by the lavandera, in a household which employs more than one domestic, and by the all-around maid in a small or single-person household. Dry cleaning is available at prices comparable to those in the U.S., and quality is good.

Food

Several large well-stocked supermarkets are in Manila and the suburban areas. Open markets throughout the country sell fresh fruits and vegetables; use caution when buying perishables since markets may not be refrigerated or sanitary.

Supplies & Services

The beauty salons and barbershops range from adequate to luxurious in Manila; in the other major cities, shops are simple and work is passable. Dressmaking, tailoring, shoe repair, and other personal services can be easily found and, on the whole, the work is satisfactory and the rates are reasonable.

Religious Activities

Catholics number more than 80% of the Philippine population, and have many churches in all localities. Catholic orders from Spain, Belgium, Canada, the U.S., and other countries are active here. In the capital, Protestant churches include the Union Church of Manila (nondenominational), Holy Trinity Anglican Episcopal, International Baptist, Lutheran, and Seventh Day Adventist. Manila also has a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a Unitarian congregation, and a Jewish Community Center. The Saturday newspapers list worship times and places.

Domestic Help

Employing household help is the norm rather than the exception in the Philippines, not only among foreigners but also middle-income and well-to-do families.

In Manila, competent household help is easy to find, although sometimes a short trial period is necessary before settling on someone suitable. Under proper supervision, domestics are clean, honest, loyal, cooperative, and good with children. Careful and patient instructions must be given, since their understanding of English cannot be taken for granted.

Filipino domestics are not covered under the national social security system. However, low-cost health insurance is available for domestics, and it is expected that the employer provide it. Local laws apply to, and provide for, such benefits as regular days off, payment of medical fees, adequate dismissal notice, etc. Complete physical examinations of prospective domestics and annual checkups are strongly recommended.

Education

The International School, located in nearby Makati, is a nonsectarian, college-preparatory, and general academic day school for boys and girls of all nationalities from kindergarten through grade 12.

International, formerly called the American School, was founded in 1920 by American and British residents of Manila. It was incorporated as a private, independent institution, and is registered under the laws of the Republic of the Philippines on a nonprofit, non-stock basis. In 1970, the name was changed to reflect the increasing internationality of the student population.

Instruction is in English. The curriculum is that of U.S. general academic and college preparatory schools. Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Latin, and Pilipino are offered as foreign languages.

International is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and its credits are accepted by American colleges and universities. High school students may earn both U.S. and International Baccalaureate diplomas. Academic standards tend to be more rigorous than those in the U.S. The school participates in, and is a center for, several American testing programs: Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT), College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB), National Merit Scholarship Program (PSAT/NMSQT), and American College Test (ACT).

Students are encouraged to participate in the wide variety of sports and other extracurricular activities offered after class hours. International is a member of the Philippine Secondary School Athletic Association. There is active intramural competition.

Brent School of Manila was opened in August 1984. Its mother school is Brent School in Baguio City, which was founded in 1909. Located on the campus of the University of Life in Manila, this unit started with a population of 305 students enrolled in kindergarten to grade 10. An integral part of the original school in Baguio, it is doubly accredited with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Philippine Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities. Brent School-Manila is an international, coeducational, day school related to the Episcopal Church in the Philippines. Brent is a small academic community that provides an atmosphere of high academic standards, Christian values, and discipline. The primary aim is to meet the educational needs of the children of the international community from kindergarten to high school, and specifically to prepare students for admission to the leading colleges and universities of all nations.

The curriculum is American with British adaptations, and is designed to provide each student with background necessary for college life. Special requirements for Filipino students are also met. Small classes permit greater dialogue between faculty and students, and pursuit of individual ideas and interests of the students is facilitated.

Sports and extracurricular activities are offered, though on a smaller scale than the International School.

Several preschools are attended by American children in Manila. Concepts vary from Montessori to social learning. All of the preschools offer a variety of activities and instruction for the child. The schools often have small classes and offer a clean and stimulating environment. The general age for acceptance in preschool is around two-and-a-half years of age or diaper trained. There are a few exceptions to this rule.

Special Opportunities

The University of the Philippines (a half-hour drive from downtown Manila with various branches throughout the city) and the University of Santo Tomás are accredited with American colleges, especially for junior/senior level courses. Other private institutions of higher learning are also open to college-age students living in Manila. However, the Philippine system provides only 10 years (six elementary and four secondary) of preparation before college, and this must be taken into consideration prior to enrollment. Most American students choose to go to U.S. colleges because of this difference. Both discipline and scholastic requirements are less rigorous in Philippine universities, and libraries, laboratories, and other facilities are below the standards of American schools.

Very few programs are available for the handicapped child or for children with learning disorders.

Recreation

The tropical weather of the Philippines provides almost year-round opportunities for touring and outdoor recreational activities. These are somewhat curtailed, however, in the heat of April and May, and during the rains and typhoons from July to September.

Sight-seeing in Manila is highly diversified. Within the city itself, there are interesting historical sites, ancient churches, a zoo, a botanical garden, beautiful parks, and a number of small but significant museums, such as the Museo and the Ayala. The Philippine National Museum, which was almost totally destroyed during World War II, once again features permanent exhibitions, mostly scientific in nature, and periodic exhibits of Philippine art and artifacts. The number of small galleries of local art, predominantly modern in trend, is increasing. The Art Association of the Philippines promotes an interest in the field through seminars, lectures, and exhibits of local works.

Malacanang Palace, former home of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, is now a museum, housing memorabilia from Malacanang's history as the center of Philippine government, and especially memorabilia of the Marcos era. Casa Manila, situated in the heart of Intramuros (meaning within the walls), is a model of a 19th-century upper-class urban home. Intramuros contains several other places of interest including two churches, Plaza Roma with its statue to the three martyred priests, and Fort Santiago, with the Rizal Museum. Intramuros itself is a unique combination of the Orient and the Occident: an Old World medieval fortress encircled by walls of oriental materials in a tropical land. Even in their crumbling state, the walls remain today as a monument, a relic of the Spanish era of Philippine history.

Opportunities for weekend and day trips which appeal to sightseers, hikers, picnickers, and camera enthusiasts are plentiful. It is necessary to travel a considerable distance from Manila Bay for safe, unpolluted swimming. Beach resort areas are increasing, however, with the building of modern hotels and restaurants. These areas are a two-to-four-hour drive from Manila.

The closest approach to big game in the Philippines is the wild carabao (water buffalo). Deer is next, with open season from January to May. Wild pig is found in almost every mountain region of the country. Snipe is the most popular game bird among hunters. The hunting season for jack snipe runs from September to February. Many varieties of migratory birds, plus dove, wild chicken, partridge, quail, and other game birds are plentiful.

Among the saltwater fish available are: sea bass; barracuda; Spanish mackerel; pompano; tuna, which includes bonitos, yellowfins, skip-jacks, albacores, and bluefins; the leather jacket; sergeant fish; and swordfish. Huge marlins have been caught in Philippine waters. Freshwater fish include the giant eel, the murrel, carp, gurami, tilapia, and catfish. Unfortunately, inaccessibility of the areas, restrictions on use of firearms, and lack of hotel accommodations impede hunting and fishing.

Nowhere in the world is there greater profusion or wider diversity of shells than in the Philippines. Because of the uniform warmth of the tropical currents that flow around the islands, shells here have richer colors and more imaginative patterns than in any other region. A great many of the world's rarest and most highly prized specimens of marine shells have either been picked up on Philippine beaches at low tide, trawled, or dredged from the surrounding waters of some of the islandsnotably Cebu, Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan, and Samar. The archipelago has been called a "mollusk paradise," and is reputedly the richest shell-collecting region in the world. Some coral forms are growing scarce, and it is illegal to export coral from the islands.

The following places of interest are usually visited at least once during an extended stay in the Philippines:

Tagaytay Ridge , about 35 miles, or an hour's drive, south of Manila. The ridge is 2,000 feet high and enjoys cool breezes throughout the year. It commands a dramatic view of rugged mountains and valleys, as well as of Lake Taal and Taal Volcano. This volcano is the lowest known in the world, and inside its crater is another lake which is again centered by a tiny peak. Few views equal the scenic beauty of Tagaytay Ridge. Overnight accommodations or meals can be obtained at the Taal Vista Lodge.

Pagsanjan Gorge and Rapids can be reached in a two-and-a-half-hour-drive from Manila. The trip up-river is made on a native banca (small dugout canoe) to Pagsanjan Falls through a gorge. The walls rise perpendicularly about 300 feet and are covered by luxuriant tropical growth. The return trip provides the excitement of shooting the rapids. The entire journey normally is made as a day's outing, with a picnic lunch at the falls or at one of the numerous lodges or restaurants along the river.

The Bamboo Organ at Las Pinas , a site about a 30-minute drive from Manila. This remarkable and unique organ, made of over 100 dry bamboo tubes in 1814, still has flute tones which have remained virtually unchanged in close to two centuries. The organ was completely renovated in Germany in 1975. Las Pinas Church, also renovated, is a perfect setting for this unique organ. An organist provides demonstrations. The annual Bamboo Organ Festival, held in February, features musicians from around the world.

Bataan and Corregidor , evoke memories of the gallant, but futile, stand of Philippine-American forces against the Japanese during World War II. Bataan is a peninsula jutting out to the China Sea, and can be visited by car in a day's outing. Corregidor, an island at the mouth of Manila Bay, can be reached by tour boat.

Los Baños , about a one-hour drive from Manila, and famous for its hot springs. The University of the Philippines' Colleges of Agriculture and Forestry and Forest Products Laboratory, and the International Rice Research Institutethe only such institute in Southeast Asiaare located here.

Baguio , a beautiful resort situated in the mountains at approximately 5,000 feet in altitude. It has a pleasantly cool climate all year, and is the most popular vacation spot in the Philippines, especially for families. Only 155 miles north of Manila, it can be reached by car in five hours or by plane in about one hour. During the rainy season, travel to and from Baguio is interrupted by landslides on the road and poor visibility at the airport.

Banaue Rice Terraces , north of Baguio, known locally as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The view presents an entire chain of mountains terraced to their highest peaks for the cultivation of rice. These terraces were carved out of the mountainsides by the Ifugao Indians thousands of years ago. Because of road conditions, tourists normally hire a car with an experienced driver for the seven-to eight-hour trip, driving to Bontoc or Banaue the first day, and returning to Baguio either the second or third day. Some break the trip to or from the terraces with an overnight stop at Mount Data Lodge, about a three-hour drive from Baguio, where a delightfully cool night can be spent at one of the Philippines' most modern guest houses. The Banaue Hotel has good accommodations.

Hundred Islands , which actually are 400 islands, islets, and rocks in Lingayen Gulf, and of particular interest to fishermen, skin divers, campers, and sightseers.

Mount Mayon , famous as the world's most nearly perfect volcanic cone. Rising 8,000 feet from the plain of Albay, it is near the city of Legaspi, which is accessible by car (a 10-hour drive), bus, or plane. To climb Mayon takes about three days, and the climb is not easy. The area of Bicol, which Mount Mayon "crowns," provides activities for everyone including beaches, adventure tours, caves, and shopping. Tiwi Hot Springs, 25 miles from Legaspi, is one of several thermal springs in the area.

The entire archipelago that comprises the Republic of the Philippines is full of private, rustic, white sandy beaches (such as Boracay) or classic, secluded, high-class beach resorts such as El Nido. For scuba divers, snorkelers, sailors, and just beach lovers, the Philippines offers an array of locations from which to choose.

Sports

Manila offers many opportunities for participation in sports. Facilities for golf, tennis, swimming, bowling, riding, scuba diving, basketball, softball, and sailing are available. Lessons, particularly in golf and tennis, can be obtained at reasonable fees.

Golf was introduced to the islands at the turn of this century, and has become one of the most popular sports. Several golf clubs and links in and around Manila attract players; there are practice driving ranges in the city.

The best known of the clubs is the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, with two 18-hole courses on a 320-acre estate. Wack Wack has hosted international championships and attracted outstanding golfers from around the world. In addition, the following clubs are conveniently located in and around Manila: Muni Golf Links, Capitol Hills Golf Club, Manila Golf Club, University of the Philippines Club, Intramuros Golf Course, and Alabang Golf and Country Club.

Several private clubs and hotels have pools for the use of members. Tennis and pelota (a cross between jai alai and racquetball) are popular in Manila, and courts for these sports are available at private clubs. Several modern bowling alleys also are in the Manila area.

The Manila Yacht Club welcomes foreigners interested in sailing. It sponsors active one-design and cruiser-class races, and a regular, international competition with the Hong Kong Yacht Club. Sailing lessons are offered. Boats cost much less than in the U.S.

Basketball, boxing, cockfights, horse racing, track meets, and jai alai (the Basque game somewhat similar to handball) are popular spectator sports. Visiting sports stars give occasional exhibitions. Equipment and appropriate sports attire are not always available on the local market.

Entertainment

Movies are popular among Filipinos, and several first-class, air-conditioned theaters exist, particularly in the new suburban areas. First-run American and European films may be seen, as well as Filipino, Japanese, and Chinese films. Movies do not have long runs, however, sometimes showing only for three days. Admission prices are reasonable.

The magnificent Cultural Center of the Philippines on Roxas Boulevard has a 2,000-seat auditorium and a smaller theater with 450 seats. The Folk Art Theater, used for concerts, bazaars, and pageants, is a covered, open-air building, where many local and foreign musical artists perform. The Cultural Center also includes the Philippine International Convention Center.

The Manila Symphony Society, with guest conductors, presents several concerts and at least one opera or operetta annually. A number of other active local orchestra groups and choral societies also perform.

The Bayanihan Dance Group, which has made several successful world tours, and several other folk dance and ballet groups present performances throughout the year.

The Thomas Jefferson Library (U.S.-sponsored) and the American Historical Collection (located in the U.S. Chancery Annex) have good libraries for public use. Private clubs maintain lending libraries. The public libraries, and those at various schools and universities, are seldom used by the foreign community.

Fiestas play an important role in Philippine life. They are a combination of religious symbolism and social life, and are held in the various barrios to commemorate feast days of patron saints and in remembrance of unusual local events. Almost all are based on Catholic tradition, but many also hark to earlier pre-Christian times. The fiestas are often colorful, lively, and spectacular. May is the height of the season for flowers, and numerous festivals are planned for that month.

The Philippines offers ample subject matter for photographers. Film is readily available on the local market. Printing and developing facilities for all types of film also are available locally.

Many good restaurants in all price ranges, serving Filipino, American, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Middle Eastern, Japanese, and continental food, are located in Manila. Prices vary depending on the restaurant, but are usually less than their equivalent in the U.S. Nightclubs and cocktail lounges abound, especially in the downtown areas.

The large American community provides many opportunities for social activities. In addition to school and church groups, memberships are available in several civic organizations, including the American Chamber of Commerce, Masonic Lodge and Shrine, Eastern Star, Elks, Fraternal Order of Eagles, American Association of the Philippines, Junior Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Toast-masters Club, YMCA, YWCA, and American Women's Club of the Philippines. Boy and Girl Scout chapters are active, as is the International Little League of Manila. All children have the opportunity to join school-sponsored programs.

Private clubs attract many Americans. Among these are the Manila Polo Club; the Manila Boat Club, on the Pasig River in Santa Ana; the Manila Yacht Club, with clubhouse and sheltered basin on Roxas Boulevard; the Manila Overseas Press Club; the Casino Español, with chiefly Spanish membership; Manila Club, primarily British; Manila Symphony Women's Auxiliary; the Manila Theater Guild; and the All Nations Women's Club.

Also, there are numerous charity and welfare organizations which welcome volunteer help.

Quezon City

Quezon City was the nation's capital from 1948 to 1976, and remains officially listed as such, but its development during those years was mainly in the planning stages, and only a few government agencies are located here. Thirteen miles from downtown Manila, the area formerly was a private estate named for Filipino statesman Manuel Luis Quezon.

Now grown to a center with over 2.2 million residents, Quezon City is the site of the main campus of the University of the Philippines, founded in 1908. Several theaters and concert halls are located here, among them Areneta Coliseum, Abelardo Hall and Guerrero Theatre (connected with the university), the British Council Center, and the Goethe Institute. Art exhibits are mounted in a number of galleries, and are an integral part of greater Manila's cultural life.

Quezon City bustles with business and recreational establishments. Although its proximity makes it a geographical extension of Manila proper, it retains a unique identity within the metropolitan area.

Cebu City

Cebu City, with a population of more than 700,000 (metropolitan population 1.7 million) boasts of having had the earliest sustained contact with the Western world. Cebu City was the initial seat of Philippine ChristendomFerdinand Magellan's cross, raised here in 1521, is among the many points of interest. Others include the Basilica of San Agustín, which houses an ancient religious relic, the image of Santo Niño; and the museum of the University of San Carlos, where precious artifacts from Cebu City and Mindanao are kept.

The city, commonly referred to only as Cebu, is on the island of the same name in the Visayas, those islands which comprise the Central Philippines between Luzon and Mindanao. Cebu Island is long (140 miles), narrow (22 miles at the widest point), and densely populated, with a central spine of craggy hills. The city itself is widespread and has a bustling, congested business district around the port. Because of the destruction during World War II, the once-Spanish character of Cebu City is a recollection which finds form only in some old houses down back streets, in the exteriors of several churches, and in an 18th-century triangular fort. Colo Street is the oldest street in the Philippines.

Although most of the city was rebuilt between 1945 and 1947, it suffers today from deterioration, since many buildings were hastily constructed of low-quality materials. A large part of Cebu City consists of narrow passageways lined with crowded, frame structures. However, the number of modern office buildings, wide avenues, and substantial contemporary houses is rapidly increasing. Traffic is a hectic mixture of "jeepneys," taxis, cars, motorcycles, horse carts, and motorized tricycles.

An increasing number of people are migrating into the city from elsewhere in Cebu province, and from the neighboring islands of Bohol and Leyte, in search of work. Large numbers of Chinese are engaged in wholesale and retail trade, and there is a small Indian community. The Cebuano version of the Visayan (or Bisayan) language is generally used; Visayan is also spoken in the rest of the central Visayas and in most of Mindanao. Almost everyone in Cebu City proper understands a certain amount of English; the better-educated and business people speak it well. Spanish and Chinese are still spoken by the mestizo (mixed blood) groups.

The Western community is loosely defined. Most foreign businesses have Filipino managers. The American business community is small. The largest single group of Americans is the Protestant missionaries. There are also some Catholic missionaries, medical and various students, spouses of Filipinos, and a sprinkling of Europeans and Asians.

Cebu City, about 10° north of the equator, is some 350 miles from Manila. The climate is hot and humid during the entire year, with rainfall less evenly distributed by season than it is in Manila. The hottest weather is generally from March through June. Nights are usually pleasant from August through February, with the daytime high temperature ranging between 85° and 94°F. Cebu City is considered to be just off the typhoon belt, but has occasionally been hit by storms of considerable force.

Religious Activities

Cebu City is a center for Protestant missionary activities, and English-language services are held by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (an amalgamation of Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and others), the Missouri-Synod Lutheran, several Baptist groups, the Philippine Independent Church (a separate Philippine church in communion with Episcopalians), a variety of evangelical groups, Mormons, and Seventh-Day Adventists. Cebu City also offers Catholic masses in both English and Visayan. In Baguio, there are regular English-language services provided by Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Christian Science, Lutheran, and United Church of Christ congregations. The latter is a united church staffed by Presbyterians and Evangelical United Brethren. Baptists and Lutherans sponsor many missionaries in and around Baguio.

Education

Except for families with young children, schooling in Cebu City is cause for concern. A number of alternatives are available for elementary education. Most foreign children attend Cebu International School, a private institution founded by the American community in 1924. English instruction, using primarily American textbooks, is offered from kindergarten through grade 12. The staff is Filipino. Students coming from American schools can expect both scholastic and social adjustments. Tutors can be found for additional scholastic help, which is usually needed.

Several Catholic schools for boys and girls provide alternatives to International, but few foreign residents attend them. Admission is by competitive examination. Classes tend to be large, learning is by rote, and competition in all aspects of school life is intense. Although in the best of these schools most instruction is in English, Pilipino is increasingly used in the lower grades, and the general level of English appears to be diminishing. Elementary school comprises kindergarten through grade six, followed by four years of high school (no junior high). Most foreign students find that these schools do not meet their long-term needs. St. Teresa's College and the College of the Immaculate Conception are considered the best schools for girls. The top boys' school, Sacred Heart, a Jesuit institution, requires the study of Chinese at all levels.

High school alternatives are local Catholic schools, considerably more satisfactory for girls than for boys; correspondence courses; or boarding school. The only boarding school of international caliber in the Philippines is Brent School in Baguio. Tutors can be found to assist with correspondence courses. There are adequate nursery schools in Cebu City.

Special Opportunities

Cebu City has a number of colleges, universities, and "diploma mills." One of the better educational institutions in the Philippines, the University of San Carlos (which is older than Harvard), is operated by German, Dutch, and American priests of the Society of the Divine Word. Undergraduate and graduate courses are offered in a variety of subjects. The University of the Philippines has a small branch in Cebu City, although its current graduate offerings are mainly in the fields of business and commerce. Cebu City is a major center for medical education, and a number of Americans and other foreigners attend school here. St. Teresa's has a college department (comparable to a junior college/finishing school) which enrolls American girls upon successful completion of the Philippine College Entrance Examination.

Special education for handicapped children or those with learning disabilities is not available.

Recreation

Although Cebu City experiences constant debilitating heat, outdoor activity is possible all year. Public sports and recreational facilities are extremely limited, so Americans rely on a variety of private clubs: the Cebu Country Club, Club Filipino, Montebello Hotel, Liloan Beach Club, and Casino Español.

There are two excellent private 18-hole golf courses at the edge of the city. Golf lessons are inexpensive. Three hotels have freshwater swimming pools, available for a membership fee. A number of small private tennis clubs, one or two of which have lighted courts, are available. Pelota is popular, and several clubs and private individuals have courts. Whites are worn for both tennis and pelota. Badminton is available at one club. The city has a number of bowling alleys (mostly duckpin). Local running clubs and other organizations sponsor races. Basketball is a popular spectator sport, and opportunities exist for playing in amateur leagues.

The seas around Cebu are clear, warm, and fish-laden. Beaches, mainly privately owned, are found both in Cebu City and Mactan, about a 45-minute drive.

Numerous coral islands and sand-bars are located in the straits between Cebu and Bohol. Scuba diving opportunities are unparalleled. Attractive sea shells can still be found, but commercial shell collectors are rapidly reducing the supply. Although the area is good for small boating, no docking facilities currently exist.

Other than an often-bouncy but scenic car ride around the circumference of Cebu Island (which would take about two days) or to Mactan Island, no land touring is available. Trips to nearby islands can be rewarding, although public facilities are not up to American standards. Shipping lines run regular services to Manila, as well as many neighboring ports. Some offer cabins, but most have only deck passage; the ships are crowded, dirty, and unsafe. Philippine Airlines offers service to many cities in the Visayas.

Entertainment

Entertainment possibilities are limited. Cebu City has about 20 movie theaters, of which only a few are acceptable. Most movies are in Tagalog, but some American films are shown. Eight to 10 restaurants serve reasonably good food, and there are a number of nightclubs or discos.

Cebu City has only one good public library, the United States Information Agency (USIA) facility. Among college libraries, only that at San Carlos University is adequate; it has a good Filipiniana collection. No children's collections, other than the small one at Cebu International School, are available. Although several stores carry reasonable selections of popular paperbacks, more serious reading matter or children's books are rarely available. Books deteriorate rapidly in this climate and anything of value should be brought to Cebu City with awareness of the risk involved. Local newspapers are inadequate for national or international news. While Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal is now available on the day of publication, the International Herald Tribune arrives one to three days after publication. Time and Newsweek may be bought at newsstands or hotels.

Four TV channels have frequent color broadcasts, with some American reruns. Shortwave radio reception is not always clear, but Voice of America (VOA), as well as Radio Australia and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), can be heard. Local radio programming is mostly disco and rock music, but several local FM-stereo stations broadcast more subdued music. Private satellite receivers are becoming popular among Filipinos.

Baguio

Baguio, the "summer capital," is located about 155 miles north of Manila, in the hills of northern Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. The countryside here is mountainous and rugged, with scrub growth and pines covering the slopes. Scenery and a cool climate are Baguio's chief assets. The area, however, is subject to earthquakes. More than 1,600 people died during an earthquake on July 16, 1991.

Built primarily by the Americans in the early 1900s, Baguio is a modern and thriving small-town community which has become one of the foremost vacation spots of not only the Philippines, but also of the entire Far East. A large number of well-to-do Manilans and Philippine government officials have summer homes in Baguio. Schools, business firms, and other organizations maintain summer camps and homes here for their employees.

The main economic activity is tourism. The resident population of Baguio is over 250,000, but this figure triples during the tourist season. Poor squatters make up over 50% of the population; the rest are business representatives, retired families, school teachers, missionaries, and the wealthy who can afford to commute, for weekends and extended vacations, between Baguio and Manila or other large cities.

The foreign colony is small, consisting mainly of Spaniards, Indians, Chinese, and Americans. The small Chinese community is complete with its own school and churches.

The American/European colony consists of missionaries, business representatives, teachers, miners, and their families. The Voice of America's (VOA) Philippines Relay Station is located in Baguio. English is spoken well by 75% of the local population. It is estimated that more than 3,000 Americans visit Baguio each year.

The U.S. Embassy residence in Baguio was the site of surrender ceremonies, in September 1945, of General Yamashita to the American Forces.

Around the city, in mountain villages, live the Igorots (a generic term for various tribes). Igorots are mountain tribesmen with loyalty first to their own societies. They manage to eke a scanty subsistence from the mountainsides, and to supplement this by weaving and wood carving. Their native costumes (loin cloths and jackets for the men and bright-colored straight skirts and blouses for the women) are of interest to the foreign residents and tourists.

The Baguio business center consists of a central market, where local produce is sold, and many small shops and restaurants which line the four main streets. Around this area are found civic buildings; the impressive cathedral; lovely Burnham Park, named for the Chicago architect who designed the city; the St. Louis School of Silver; and the Easter School of Weaving.

Baguio is situated at an altitude of 4,600 feet above sea level. The climate varies between the dry and (very) wet seasons, each lasting about six months. The dry season begins in December and continues until June. Temperatures vary from the low 80s in the daytime to the 50s and 60s at night. This interval ends in June when the rains, which are light in May, become heavy. Baguio averages 176 inches of rainfall a year, with a record fall of 355 inches and a low of 99 inches. July and August are the rainiest months, averaging 42 inches each. The rains begin tapering off in September and are light in October and November.

Education

Brent School, founded in 1909 under the auspices of the Episcopal Church, is the only doubly accredited, coeducational, nonsectarian, day and boarding school in Southeast Asia. Its accreditation is with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in the U.S. and with the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities. The campus offers an invigorating and healthful climate which is conducive to study year round.

Brent's curriculum is representative of the best practices to be found in public schools in the U.S. and abroad. The school provides a seminar approach to learning. There is individually guided education and close personal contact between students and faculty. An active creative and performing arts program is a feature of the school, and participation in individual and group sports is encouraged. In-depth cultural studies, curriculum-related field trips, and specialized brief courses contribute to an educational program combining the richness of Western heritage with the experience of life in an Asian culture.

Special Opportunities

Both Baguio Colleges Foundation and St. Louis University have junior college-level courses, but all credits are not transferable to American colleges, and educational standards are considered low. No adequate facilities for post-high school education are available except correspondence courses. A few facilities are available for learning the local language. Ilocano if the local dialect, but most Filipinos speak English. Private tutoring in Spanish is available. Many local residents speak Pilipino, which has been declared the national language in the Philippines.

Recreation and Entertainment

There are good beaches at Lingayen Gulf, 32 miles from Baguio, and at Poro Point, 36 miles away. Fishing is excellent at Hundred Islands, a three-to-four-hour drive from Baguio.

Burnham Park, the "Central Park" of Baguio, has sprawling lawns around a lagoon, and walks lined with agoho (Australian pine) and eucalyptus trees. Adults and children alike are attracted by boating facilities, a roller skating rink, an athletic bowl, well-shaded picnic grounds, bicycling, and scooter rides. A botanical garden with a natural area features a rich collection of Philippine flowers. A children's playground is a special attraction here.

The Crystal Caves are about 35 miles (one hour by car) from Baguio, and face the China Sea. This area is popular among visitors.

Americans patronize the two or three theaters in the city offering English-language movies, although they are screened somewhat later than U.S. showings.

No operettas, concerts, museums, or hobby club facilities are available. There are several local restaurants in Baguio, but some Americans prefer to eat only in their homes or at the Baguio Country Club, since unboiled water and unsanitary conditions may exist elsewhere.

Radio reception in Baguio is good. Direct television reception is good with an outside antenna. Four local VHF channels are on the air and a cable system is available in some parts of the city.

Baguio, with its scenic beauty, is a natural for photographers. The few local festivities, including parades and Igorot dances, as well as the festivals in the lowlands, provide interesting material for photographers. Color film can be processed in Manila, Hawaii, or Australia. Black-and-white film is processed in Baguio.

Almost all American contact with social activities are centered around the Baguio Country Club. Activities hosted at the country club and those sponsored by church and school organizations afford contact with Filipino residents, foreign nationals involved in mining, forestry, and missionary work, and Americans who have retired to Baguio.

Davao City

Davao City (officially, the City of Davao) lies on a channel leading from the Gulf of Davao on the Pacific side of Mindanao, the southernmost and second largest island in the Philippines. It is geographically one of the largest cities in the world, covering 98,785 acres (244,000 hectares), and comprising mostly agricultural land. The metropolitan population is about 1.2 million (850,000 in the city proper), making it the largest city on Mindanao, although most of the people live in rural districts and on farmlands.

Davao City was founded in 1849 and, during the first half of the 20th century, developed as a Japanese colony. It served as a Japanese naval base for more than three years during World War II.

Davao City's latitude (about 7° north of the equator) and sea-level altitude result in a year-round, hot, tropical climate somewhat relieved by almost constant sea/land breezes. The average annual rainfall is about 80 inches a year. The mean daily maximum temperature is 89°F, and the mean daily minimum, 73°F. Davao City is outside the typhoon belt.

The area and city are engaged primarily in large-scale production of copra, bananas and abaca, logging, and plywood manufacturing. The city is focused upon the support of these activities and is experiencing economic and population growth. In recent years, Davao City has become a trading center serving the gold mining activities underway in a nearby province.

Mindanao was the "frontier" of the Philippines, and it retains much of the spirit of a pioneering city. Davaowenos are predominantly Cebuano speakers, revealing the origins of a city whose farmers and business representatives migrated from the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines. The region also includes large numbers of migrants who came from Luzon as well as small groups of both Christian and Muslim ethnic tribes. A large and influential Chinese-Filipino community is part of Davao City's overall population profile. The city is experiencing a steady increase in its American community, which mostly comprises missionaries.

Education

English-language instruction is available at one or two private schools for children in preschool and kindergarten. Westerners usually rely on two or three of the best local schools for elementary and high school instruction. Some Americans in the district rely upon home instruction, using the Calvert system, or send their children to either International School or one of the boarding schools in Baguio.

Recreation and Entertainment

Swimming at the nearby beaches or the Davao Insular Hotel, and golf at either of two courses, are the primary outdoor sports in Davao City. Tennis, hiking, and picnicking are also enjoyed. Some members of the American community own boats, and opportunities abound for deep-water fishing and skin diving off the nearby islands. Because of the lack of good highways, travel to other interesting areas and cities on the island must be done by air.

Davao City does not offer a variety of entertainment. Amateur dramatic groups present performances and American participation is welcomed. A few nightclubs provide a diversion. Several excellent restaurants serve American, Chinese, and Filipino food.

Social life for the American community centers around home, church, and civic groups, and includes contact with both Filipinos and foreign residents. Most Americans belong to at least one local club, such as the Davao Beach Club, Apo Golf and Country Club, or Rotary. Membership, by invitation, usually is easily arranged.

OTHER CITIES

BACOLOD , the capital of Negros Occidental Province in the Visayan Islands, is a thriving, affluent city of 429,000 in the center of a vast sugar-producing area. It is a modern urban area, with shopping malls, commercial districts, and art centers. A university was established here in 1957. The popular Mambucal summer resort is nearby.

The seaport of BATANGAS is the capital of the province of the same name. Situated in southwestern Luzon, it is near the mouth of the Calumpan River, on the northwest coast of Batangas Bay. The city is connected with Manila, which is about 58 miles to the south, by road and coastal shipping. Batangas trades in corn, sugar, and coconuts. The population here exceeds 240,000.

BUTUAN , the capital of Agusan Province, is situated in the northeastern part of Mindanao on the Agusan River. It is a port and trading center for copra and abaca. Magellan first proclaimed Spanish sovereignty over the Philippines here in 1521. Butuan has a population of about 270,000.

ILIGAN lies on the southeast shore of Iligan Bay in Mindanao. It is the chief port on the north coast and the site of a tin plate mill. The city was the scene of uprising in the Philippine Revolution of 1896. The population is about 285,000.

ILOILO CITY , both a commercial and cultural center, is the capital of its eponymous province, and lies on the southeastern part of Iloilo Strait, in one of the most populous areas of the entire archipelago. It is officially the City of Iloilo but, like so many other places in the Philippines, the simpler version of its name is commonly used. Iloilo City is a prosperous manufacturing and commercial center which has been a port for foreign trade since 1855. A Spanish settlement, it was frequently raided during the 16th and 17th centuries by the Moros (Moors). Although it suffered during the Japanese occupation in World War II, most of its old churches and buildings from the Spanish era are still intact. Iloilo City's population is estimated at 366,000 (2000 est.).

Located 17 miles southwest of Santa Cruz on Luzon, SAN PABLO is the largest town in the province of Laguna. It became a city in 1940 and has an estimated population of 208,000. San Pablo is a major rail and highway center in a valley near several small crater lakes. Copra is shipped from here.

ZAMBOANGA is a noted port and trade center in the province of Zamboanga del Sur, on the western tip of Mindanao. It is set at the foot of a mountain range, and its pleasant tropical climate and beautiful parks have earned for it the apt description, "city of flowers." Established in 1635 as a Spanish stronghold, Fort Pilar, the town grew and flourished during the years before World War II, when the Philippines were under U.S. control. Today, the city has a population over 600,000. A decided Moros influence remains in the area, and the local market has a wide array of Muslim artifacts and textiles.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

The Philippines comprise some 7,100 islands, of which only 880 are inhabited. The two major islands are Luzon to the north, and Mindanao to the south. These and the central Visayas group are represented by the three stars in the Philippine flag.

Although generally mountainous, with peaks up to almost 10,000 feet, the country has extensive fertile coastal and central plains and rolling uplands. Large, rich valleys, traversed by rivers, lie between mountain ranges. The Philippines has many volcanoes, some of them active. The spring 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo was one of history's major volcanic explosions and its resulting atmospheric effects had worldwide implications. The rugged and irregular coastline, some 21,600 miles long, provides numerous harbors of all sizes. In comparison, the coastline of the continental United States is only 12,000 miles in length.

The Philippines ranks fifth among the world's countries in ratio of forest to tableland. Interesting plant life is abundant throughout the islands. The sampaguita, a small, multi-petaled, and exceedingly fragrant blossom is the national flower. Orchids grow in profusionsome 1,000 varieties are known.

Many interesting species of animals and birds are found in the forests and mountains. The carabao, or water buffalo, is indigenous.

The Philippine climate is mostly hot and humid. Manila is situated at sea level on the island of Luzon, 15° north of the equator. Three seasons are defined: the hot, dry period from March through May, ending with violent thunderstorms and torrential rains; the wet season from June into November, with daily rains during July, August, and September; and the cool, dry interval from November to February. Manila has an annual mean temperature of 80°F. The average monthly maximum temperature ranges from to 86°F to 93°F, and the monthly minimum temperature from 69°F to 75°F. Average relative humidity spans a scale from 69% in April to 84% in August and September.

Typhoons, common in the Philippines during the rainy season, bring high winds and heavy rains. In November 1991, a typhoon, designated Thelma, hit an area about 340 miles southeast of Manila resulting in at least 6,500 deaths. Manila sometimes feels the full impact of these violent storms, although more often they miss the city because it is sheltered by mountains. In the rainy season, frequent floods cause delays in transportation and possible damage to automobiles. However, recent flood-control projects are alleviating this situation.

Minor earth tremors occur frequently. In 1969 and 1970, major earthquakes hit Manila, with some casualties and damage. In 1976, a devastating earthquake, followed by strong tidal waves, struck southwestern Mindanao. In January 1982, an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale battered northern Bicol Peninsula and, in August of the following year, another hit Iiocos Norte; both of these caused extensive loss of life and property damage. In 1991, an earthquake in Baguio claimed 1,600 lives.

Population

The Philippines is inhabited by more than 80 million people of varying races, traditions, cultures, and religious beliefs who speak 87 different dialects. Culturally, the people are of three main classifications: the Christian group, comprising over 90% of the population, who inhabit the lowlands; the Muslims, comprising 4%, in the southern island of Mindanao and Sulu archipelago; and the third group, composed of the mountain peopleIgorot, Ifugao, Negrito, Mangyan, etc.living in the mountainous interiors of the islands. Some of the latter societies remain largely untouched by civilization.

The Philippines is a melting pot. The dominant race is Malay, but many Filipinos are of Chinese, Spanish, or American descent. About 83% of the people are Roman Catholic. The remaining 9% of the Christian element belong to the Philippine Independent Church (Aglipayan ), the indigenous Iglesia ni Christo, and various Protestant faiths.

Traditionally, Filipinos are noted for their friendliness and hospitality, but the past several years have witnessed a growing spirit of nationalism and some expression of anti-Americanism, particularly in Manila. However, the majority of Filipinos still welcome American friendship, and personal relationships develop more easily here than in most Asian nations.

The Filipinos have a natural reverence for women. Filipinos enjoy a status unmatched in other Oriental countries; at home and in the community, they share equal footing with Filipino men. Filipinos have strong family ties. Fiestas play a major role in their lives.

Although Tagalog is the predominant language, Pilipino (a mixture of Tagalog and other dialects) and English are the official languages. The latter is used in Manila for business, commerce, and higher education. Leading newspapers, magazines, and many television and radio programs are in English.

The use of Pilipino is increasing rapidly in schools and communications media. Nevertheless, Americans have no real language problems except, perhaps, when traveling in the more isolated areas of the country, where some knowledge of Tagalog is helpful. An adjustment becomes necessary to attune the American ear to the Filipino manner of speaking, with equivalent difficulty to be expected on the Filipino's part in understanding the American cadence.

Government

The Philippines has experienced much governmental turmoil in recent years. After 20 years of President Ferdinand Marcos' authoritarian rule, Corazon Aquino was elected to the presidency in 1986. Aquino faced formidable problems, not the least of which was dealing with dissidents in the military and surviving six serious military coups. Some dissidents accused Aquino of catering to the elite of Philippine society and ignoring the poor. Several factors contributed to a sense of instability among the Filipino people: increasing economic problems, debate concerning U.S. use of military bases in the Philippines, and the perceived notion that Aquino was an indecisive and ineffective leader. Prevented by the constitution from running for a second term, Aquino backed the eventual winner, Fidel Ramos, who was elected to a six-year term in May 1992.

Ramos, however, had to deal with quite a bit of trouble concerning political corruption, a weak economy, and ongoing internal threats from Islamic extremists. He lost the election of 1998 to Joseph Estrada, his vice-president. Estrada eventually faced impeachment from charges of massive corruption and plunder. Amidst relatively peaceful rallies and demonstrations, Estrada stepped-down to be replace by his vice-president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in January 2001.

The Philippines changed from an American-style presidential system to a modified parliamentary system during and after President Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law from 1972 to 1981. However, after the election of Aquino, a new constitution was drafted and approved in a plebiscite in 1982. Under this constitution, an American-style presidential system was restored. The powers of the three branches of government (the president, the legislature, and the judiciary) are balanced with no one branch predominating.

Executive power is vested in the president who is elected by direct universal suffrage and is limited to one term of six years duration. The president appoints a Cabinet which oversees day to day affairs of the government. Legislative power resides in a 24 member Senate with members elected from a nationwide constituency, and the 250 member House of Representatives. Of the number 200 are elected from individual local constituencies and 50 appointed by the president. The judicial system consists of a 15 member Supreme Court and various lower courts.

Government in the Philippines is unitary, not federal. The central government supervises administrative details for the provinces, cities, and towns, but these local jurisdictions choose their own officials and manage most of their own affairs.

Administratively, the 72 provinces are divided into 12 regions. Metropolitan Manila, which includes the city proper, Quezon City, and other jurisdictions, has its own legal status. In the south, with its substantial concentrations of Muslim Filipinos, and in northern Luzon, with its substantial numbers of cultural minorities, the government is implementing a constitutionally mandated program of regional autonomy.

The flag of the Philippines consists of equal horizontal bands of blue and red; next to the staff is a golden sun with three stars on a white triangle.

Arts, Science, Education

The Philippines has over 40,000 public and private primary, intermediate, secondary, and collegiate schools. Among the institutions of higher education are the University of the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomás, and other nationally chartered centers of higher learning. The scope of private education is impressive171 government and 636 private colleges and universities. Although it is occasionally argued that some schools fall below the standards of learning elsewhere, the mere presence of so many schools is an achievement which few other developing nations can match. An educated electorate is part of the Filipino's concept of democracy. Until recent years, much of the intellectual and cultural life of the country revolved around the universities. Today, expanding libraries, museums, concert halls, book shops, and art galleries provide alternate experiences.

As the Far East's only predominantly Christian country, Western ideas and values have strongly influenced Philippine art. The art world is active and diversified. Folk-dance groups enjoy the same popularity as Western modern and classical ballet companies. Two symphony orchestras in Manila have concert seasons, and drama clubs (several with international membership) perform throughout the year. Exciting and venturesome examples of modern architecture are represented in some new buildings in the Manila area.

A large scientific community is active in the Philippines. The National Science Development Board has under its jurisdiction the National Institute of Science and Technology, the Nuclear Research Institute, the Coconut Research Institute, and the Textile Research Institute. The Nuclear Research Institute operates a one-megawatt reactor, producing isotopes for medical use, and carries on research in other areas.

Philippine scientists work with their counterparts from all over the world in the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, which has developed new strains of "miracle rice." Another important international project is the country's affiliation with INTELSAT through two PHILCOMSAT satellite earth stations. These installations at Tanay make it possible for the Philippines to carry direct telecasts worldwide events.

Commerce and Industry

The once-promising Philippine economy declined in the early 1990s due to a variety of factors. The shutdown of U.S. military operations resulted in the loss of thousands of civilian jobs, as well as more than one billion dollars that the bases injected into the economy. Prolonged drought and inadequate infrastructure also contributed to the country's stagnant economic growth. Growth resumed in 1993 and 1994, and inflation declined.

The economy retains many of its traditional characteristics. Almost 40% the labor force is employed in agriculture and many earn their living in the related activities of processing, transportation, and trade in agricultural products. Efforts are being made to encourage and decentralize industrial development, which is presently concentrated around Manila. In the south, Iligan City with its hydroelectric dam and steel complex, and Davao City and Cebu City are developing into industrial areas. Export-processing zones are located in Bataan, Cebu City, and Baguio, and others are planned in the provinces.

A large debt burden, and population pressure make agricultural development, industrial sector expansion, and increased export earnings critical to future development. Chief Philippine exports include coconut products, garments, and electronics. Key crops include rice and corn, primarily for domestic consumption; sugar, coconut products, abaca, pineapple, bananas, and forest products such as lumber, plywood, and veneer for export.

The private sector dominates the Philippine economy. Government economic agencies determine the policy framework within which the private sector functions and the principal directions of the economy through the Investment Priorities Plan. Economic nationalism is a potent force in the Philippines, and some government trade and investment policies reflect this sentiment. The public sector also has responsibility for much needed economic infrastructures, such as power generation, roads, and port and air terminal facilities.

A few wealthy families, which are now developing modern management practices, are very influential in the private sector. The Filipino-Chinese community is also a major force in businesses. Americans traditionally have been the principal foreign investors in the Philippines. But Japanese, European, and other Asian investments and financial interests have become increasingly important.

Unemployment in metropolitan Manila is about twice as high as in rural areas and underemployment throughout the country is a serious problem. Creating new jobs to reduce underemployment and provide employment for new workers is one of the Philippines most pressing problems. A competitive wage scale and a well-trained, English-speaking labor force are important attractions for employment-generating investment.

Trade unions have had a long history in the Philippines. However, unions are divided among a vast array of rival labor federations whose disunity seriously undermines the economic and political influence of the labor movement. The number of strikes has declined recently, but some unions pursue strikes for ideological more than economic reasons.

Transportation

Travel by air to practically any part of the world can be arranged from Manila. American-flag cargo ships, with limited passenger capacity (usually 12), have infrequent trans-Pacific sailings from Taiwan to the U.S. west coast via Hong Kong and Japan but, for all practical purposes, surface travel between the U.S. and the Philippines is not convenient.

Airlines connecting Manila with other points in the Far East include Air France, China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), Korean Airlines, Northwest, Pakistan International, Philippine Airlines, Qantas, Sabena, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) Thai Airways International, Japan Airlines, and Air Egypt. Northwest has daily scheduled flights to the U.S.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) makes scheduled flights to cities and important towns throughout the country. It is possible to arrange a one-day round trip to some places.

Inter-island ships sail almost daily, with calls at major ports within the country. Although the accommodations cannot be considered first class, those traveling on the ships find their voyages adventurous and enjoyable. Ships are often crowded and overbooked; at times ship travel may be hazardous because safety regulations may be unenforced.

Modes of city transportation vary, but taxis are most commonly used by Americans who do not have personal vehicles. Many taxi companies and individual owners and operators provide service throughout the large cities and their suburbs. Mostly, small Japanese cars are used. Many taxis are old, dirty, poorly maintained, and driven recklessly; many do not have air conditioning. Street crime in Manila often involves taxis, so care should be taken when hailing one. The most reputable taxis are found in front of hotels and other large businesses and have meters that work; fares are reasonable. A small tip is usually given.

Bus service is available throughout Manila and suburban areas. Fares are cheap and schedules frequent. However, buses are seldom used by Americans, as they are considered neither safe nor comfortable by U.S. standards. Pickpockets are quite active on the buses here. Buses are also handled recklessly, and drivers often race from one street corner to another vying for passengers, and sometimes vary the established route.

"Jeepneys," colorful vehicles built on Jeep frames, are plentiful in Manila and suburban areas. They carry up to a dozen people and are frequently overcrowded. Fare is nominal to most points in Manila; this means of transportation, however, cannot be relied on to follow regular routes. Most vehicles have side curtains, but passengers should expect to get wet when it rains. Since "jeepneys" are preferable to city buses, Americans occasionally use them.

For an occasional "fun trip," there is the horse-drawn carretela or calesa. One should bargain with the driver (cochero ) to set the price of the trip. These horse-drawn vehicles are banned from the main thoroughfares of Manila, as they constitute a serious traffic hazard for motorized vehicles.

Two major highways lead out of Manila, one going north to Angeles and Baguio, and one heading south. Although the roads have four-lane sections near Manila, mainly they are two-lane highways.

Train travel is not recommended, considering the unsafe condition of roadbeds, substandard cleanliness of cars, and frequent pilferage of belongings.

Although it is possible to go to almost any point on Luzon Island by bus, few Americans do so for the same reasons as given for Manila city buses. Sarkies Bus Tours may be the exception. The company has clean, air-conditioned vehicles traveling regularly between Manila and several cities, including Baguio and Banaue.

Driving in the Philippines, as in most places where traffic is highly congested, requires considerable care and patience in order to avoid accidents. Some people find it desirable to employ a full-time chauffeur for this reason, and to ensure against the danger of pilferage or theft of an unattended car.

Communications

Although local telephone service is common in the Philippines, it is far from reliable. Storms, and even showers, disrupt the service, and telephone instruments often are unusable for no apparent reason. Frequently, repairs take an inordinate amount of time. Long-distance service to the U.S. is excellentwhen telephones are functioning properly. Some international connections are scheduled for certain hours of the day. Although not always dependable, service between Manila and all major Philippine cities is also available.

International telegraph and cable service is provided by several companies, including RCA, ETPI, and Globe Mackay. Mail leaves for, and arrives from, the U.S. via American-flag carriers seven days a week. Transit time is usually five to six days.

Radio and television programs in the Philippines resemble those in the U.S. They are commercial and highly competitive. Many are in English. Popular American series are carried in English on TV, but many locally produced shows are in Tagalog. Local news and public affairs programs are usually in English. Movies are also popular on television, both in English and Tagalog.

Currently, the Philippines has over 300 radio stations, with about 45 of these in the metro Manila area. Radio stations carry news, music, and commercials. Music varies from the classics to rock. Many Manila stations broadcast in FM stereo, featuring a wide variety of pop and classical music. Radio/TV stations carry international and U.S. news, but these reports are inclined to be sketchy and lacking in depth. Anyone interested in comprehensive information should have a short-wave receiver. A shortwave radio will pick up broadcasts from Voice of America (VOA), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and Radio Australia.

The Philippines has over 25 TV channels, about five of them (plus two cable channels) in the Manila area. All Manila stations are color-equipped. TV channel allocations are the same as those in the U.S.

Eight major English-language daily newspapers are printed in the Philippines. The Manila Bulletin is the largest of the three English national dailies. Other English newspapers and periodicals specialize in current business and trade affairs. The Asian Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune are available at newsstands and at major hotels.

More than 10 locally published weekly magazines are in English. Some have multi-interest, short articles (Focus Philippines and Panorama ) and others carry articles for a specific audience. Most pieces are light features on human interest and other apolitical subjects but, occasionally, there is in-depth analysis of current events.

The Far East editions of Time and Newsweek are available by subscription or direct purchase at local newsstands. A limited supply of most American magazines, four to six weeks late, and paperback books can be purchased at local newsstands.

Health and Medicine

For most medical and surgical problems, Manila's facilities are considered satisfactory. Makati Medical Center, a 300-bed hospital opened in November 1968, has modern equipment and facilities comparable to those in a large U.S. community hospital. Many of its staff physicians and surgeons are American-trained. Other good hospitals include Manila Medical Center, Manila Doctor's Hospital, and St. Luke's Hospital in neighboring Quezon City.

Since a large number of Filipino doctors and nurses have received advanced training in the U.S., most specialties are found. A few excellent expatriate doctors practice in Manila.

Despite the availability of U.S.-trained Filipino doctors and dentists in Manila, dental work and medical problems should be taken care of before departure for the Philippines.

There are several U.S.-trained physicians in Cebu City. For most illnesses and emergency medical problems, the facilities are considered adequate. Cebu Doctor's Hospital, opened in 1972, comes closest to meeting Western standards for cleanliness and equipment, and is preferred by most of the American community. Chong Hua and Perpetual Succour Hospitals are also acceptable. Routine dental care is available here, but orthodontic treatment and oral surgery must be done in Manila. If you use regular medication, arrange with a U.S. pharmacy to make routine shipments.

Several U.S.-trained physicians in Davao City are used extensively by the American population of that city. The Ricardo Limso Medical Center is where most of the recommended physicians admit patients. Although it does not have some of the more sophisticated equipment found in most American hospitals, the facility is considered adequate for many medical problems, including emergency surgery (e.g., appendectomy). Elective surgery or sophisticated diagnostic procedures should be performed elsewhere.

In general, common diseases may be treated in Baguio. The two hospitals considered adequate are Notre Dame de Lourdes and Pines City Doctor's Hospital. Treatment at better hospitals is recommended for illnesses requiring a prolonged hospitalization or major surgery.

The following general health advice refers to Manila, but actually applies to the entire Philippines:

The general level of sanitation is lower than that in the U.S., but is high in comparison with many other developing countries. An increase in the population of metropolitan Manila since the time of liberation has greatly overtaxed the water supply, sewage and garbage disposal, street cleaning, and utilities. Caution must be exercised regarding the municipal water supply. At times, particularly during the dry season, pressure is low in the mains, and water in certain areas of the city cannot be considered potable. Some of the residential villages have their own deep wells and pumps, and make it a practice to monitor the purity of their water. As a general precaution, however, water used for drinking and daily dental care should be boiled.

Some open sewers still exist in Manila, and practices in the area of waste disposal, food handling, and market sanitation in some areas may not be adequate from a public health standpoint. Manila continues its effort to improve hygienic conditions in the city, and to educate its people in public health and sanitation measures. However, the program has not reached all levels of society, and caution must be exercised. Cockroaches, ants, mosquitoes, fleas, termites, rats, and mice are quite common in the Philippines. They can be controlled through home efforts and the use of commercial exterminators.

Laws require the reporting of communicable diseases. There are isolation hospitals for the treatment of typhoid, cholera, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, etc. Incoming ships and airplanes, and their passengers, are subject to quarantine inspection.

Occasional gastrointestinal upsets and colds are almost unavoidable in the Philippines. Through normal precautions and care, it should be possible to avoid serious diseases such as cholera, typhoid, bacillary dysentery, and intestinal parasites. Inoculation against typhoid, tetanus-diphtheria, poliomyelitis, and cholera is advised. Susceptible children should be vaccinated against measles, mumps, hemophilus B, and rubella, following the usual recommended schedules.

Gamma globulin is available for hepatitis prophylaxis. Tuberculosis is common in the Philippines, and periodic skin tests are recommended. It is important that all household help and drivers have physical examinations at regular intervals.

While the areas in and around Manila, Baguio, and Cebu City are malaria-free, there is incidence of the disease in some of the rural, undeveloped parts of the country. Visitors traveling in these areas should take appropriate preventions. Chloroquine-resistant malaria may be encountered in some places.

Penicillinase-producing Neisseria gonorrhea (PPNG) is common here. This type of gonorrhea is resistant to penicillin and must be treated by other means.

Respiratory infections and irritations are also common because of atmospheric pollution and the vagaries of air conditioning.

Normal precaution must be taken in eating fresh fruits and vegetables. It is wise to eat local produce only after peeling, soaking, scrubbing, and cooking. A certain amount of salt in the daily diet is desirable.

Boiling for five minutes is the recommended method for sterilizing water. Bottled beverages sold here are usually plentiful and safe. In general, it is safer to drink bottled beverages or hot tea or coffee, rather than water, in public places. Powdered, reconstituted milk is widely used. Fresh milk and dairy products, other than Magnolia brand, are not always considered safe, even though pasteurized. Meats from local markets should be well cooked, and the freshness of fish determined before eating.

Many fine restaurants in Manila are patronized by Americans. These are quality establishments and may be patronized with reasonable confidence. However, it is not wise to eat raw food, especially raw seafood, even at the best places. Care should be taken in consuming local dairy products, and children should not be allowed to eat ice cream or other food bought from street peddlers. Ice is always suspect. It should also be noted that alcohol does not kill bacteria.

Visitors must remember to avoid overexertion and excessive fatigue. The tropical environment is enervating, and recovery from exercise may not be as prompt in the Philippines as in a temperate climate. Serious burns may follow relatively short exposure to the sun. Heat rash responds best to frequent cool showers, air-conditioned rooms, loose clothing, and all measures to reduce perspiration. Superficial skin infections are extremely common in the tropics. Even the smallest wound should be carefully cleaned with an antibiotic disinfectant and covered.

Most standard medicines are stocked in the larger pharmacies in major cities, although brand names may be different and unfamiliar. Many major multi-national drug companies have factories and representatives in the Philippines.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Feb. 25 Freedom Day

Apr. 9 Arawng Kagitingan (Valour Day)

Mar/Apr. Maundy Thursday*

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

May. Flores de Mayo*

May 1 Labor Day

June 12 Independence Day

Aug. (last Sun) National Heroes Day*

Sept. 21 Thanksgiving

Nov. 1 All Saints' Day

Nov.2 All Souls' Day

Nov. 30 Bonifacio Day

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 30 Rizal Day

Dec.31 Last Day of the Year

*variable

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Passage, Customs & Duties

Several air routes are traveled from the U.S. west coast to the Philippines; the most commonly used are those via Honolulu and Guam to Manila, or via Seattle or Anchorage, through Tokyo to Manila.

Travel within the archipelago is possible by boat, plane, bus, or car. Few tourists rent a car to drive, as the road system is crowded and drivers are undisciplined. Driving off the national highways and paved roads is particularly dangerous, especially at night. To avoid overcrowded or unsafe transport, caution is urged in planning travel by older, inter-island ferryboats or other public conveyances.

U.S. citizens are allowed to enter the Philippines without a visa upon presentation of their U.S. passport, which must be valid for at least six months after entry, and a return ticket to the U.S. or onward ticket to another country. Upon arrival, immigration authorities will annotate the U.S. passport with an entry visa valid for 21 days. If you plan to stay longer than 21 days, you will have to apply for an extension at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, Magallanes Drive, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines. There are special requirements for the entry of unaccompanied minors. Additional information concerning entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of the Philippines, 1600 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 467-9300 or from the Philippines Consulates General in Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, or San Francisco.

U.S. citizens living in or visiting the Philippines are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, located at 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila City; tel. (63-2) 523-1001. The Consular American Citizen Services fax number is (63-2) 522-3242 and the ACS web page is http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/rp1/wwwh3004.html.

The U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu provides limited services for U.S. citizens. The Consular Agency address is: Third Floor, PCI Bank, Gorordo Avenue, Lahug, Cebu City; tel. (63-32) 231-1261.

Pets

A pet (animal or bird) may be brought to the Philippines if accompanied by a health certificate, documentation of rabies inoculation, import permit from the Philippine Bureau of Animal Industry, and certificate of tax exemption. The validation of an animal's health certificate by a Philippine embassy or consulate is not sufficient documentation to permit landing or free entry; the import permit and tax certificate are the only papers acknowledged by Philippine officials. Without proper clearance, the animal will be held at customs in quarantine.

Currency, Banking and Weights and Measures

The official currency unit is the peso, which is divided into 100 centavos.

Visitors should also be vigilant when using credit cards. One form of credit card fraud involves the illicit use of an electronic device to retrieve and record information, including the PIN, from the card's magnetic strip. The information is then used to make unauthorized purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this scam, never let your card out of your sight. Major problems have occurred at large department stores and some hotel restaurants.

The metric system of weights and measures is standard in the Philippines, but English units (pounds, gallons, and yards) often are used.

The time in the Philippines is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus eight.

Disaster Preparedness

The Philippines is a volcano-, typhoon-and earthquake-prone country. During the rainy season (May to November) there are typhoons and flash floods. Flooding can cause road delays and cut off bridges. Typhoons in the vicinity of the Philippines can interrupt air and sea links within the country. Volcanic activity is frequent, and periodically the Government of the Philippines announces alerts for specific volcanoes. Earthquakes can also occur throughout the country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov

RECOMMENDED READING

The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Agoncillo, Teodoro A. A Short History of the Philippines. New York: Mentor Books, 1969.

Bain, David Haward. Sitting in Darkness: Americans in the Philippines. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1984.

Bresnan, John. Crisis in the Philippines: The Marcos Era and Beyond. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986.

Bunge, Frederica M. Philippines: A Country Study. Washington, DC: Foreign Areas Studies, 1984.

Cottrell, Alvin J. The Military Utility of the U.S. Facilities in the Philippines. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, 1980.

Domingo, Benjamin. The Making of Filipino Foreign Policy. Manila: Foreign Service Institute, 1983.

Elliott, Charles B. The Philippines to the End of the Commission Government: A Study in Tropical Democracy. New York: Green-wood Press, 1971.

Friend, Theodore. Between Two Empires: The Ordeal of the Philippines, 1929-1946. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1965.

Gleeck, Lewis E., Jr. The Manila Americans, 1901-1964. Manila: Carmelo & Bauermann, 1978.

Gowing, Peter, and Robert McAnnis, eds. The Muslim Filipinos. Manila: New Day Publishers, 1974.

Guthrie, George M. Six Perspectives on the Philippines. Manila: Bookmark, 1971.

Jones, Gregg R. Red Revolution: Inside the Philippine Guerilla Movement. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989.

Kessler, Richard J. U.S. Policy Toward the Philippines After Marcos. Muscatine: The Stanley Foundation, 1986.

Kim, Sung Yong. United States-Philippines Relations, 1946-1956. Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press, 1968.

Lachica, Eduardo. The Huks: Philippine Agrarian Society in Revolt. New York: Praeger, 1971.

Lande, Carl H. Rebuilding a Nation: Philippine Challenges and American Policy. Washington, DC: Washington Institute Press, 1987.

Lansdale, Edward G. In The Midst of Wars: An American's Mission to Southeast Asia. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.

Loveday, Douglas F. The Role of U.S. Military Bases in the Philippine Economy. Santa Monica: Rand, 1971.

Manchester, William. American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964. Boston: Little, Brown, 1978.

McDonough, Lolita W. The U.S. Military Bases in the Philippines: Issues and Scenarios. Quezon City: International Studies Institute of the Philippines, 1986.

Miller, Stuart Creighton. Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1982.

Niksch, Larry A. Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in the Philippines. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 1985.

Owen, Norman G., et al. Compadre Colonialism: Philippine-American Relations, 1898-1946. Manila: Solidaridad Publishing House, 1971.

Owen, Norman G. The Philippine Economy and the United States: Studies in Past and Present Interactions. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, 1983.

Pringle, Robert. Indonesia and the Philippines: American Interests in Island Southeast Asia. New York: Columbia University Press, 1980.

Rosenberg, David A. Marcos and Martial Law in the Philippines. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1979.

Schultz, Duane. Hero of Bataan: The Story of General Jonathan M. Wainwright. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981.

Steinberg, David J. The Philippines, A Singular and a Plural Place. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1982.

Von Brevern, Mariles. Faces of Manila. Manila: Lyceum Press, 1985.

views updated

PHILIPPINES

Compiled from the September 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of the Philippines


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 300,000 sq. km. (117,187 sq. mi.).

Cities: (2000 census) Capital: Manila (pop. 9.9 million in metropolitan area); Davao City (1.2 million); Cebu City (0.7 million)

Terrain: Islands, 65% mountainous, with narrow coastal lowlands.

Climate: Tropical, astride typhoon belt.

People

Nationality: Noun—Filipino(s). Adjective—Philippine.

Population: (2000 census) 76.5 million. Government's estimate for 2003: 82.0 million

Annual growth rate: 2.36%.

Ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese.

Religions: Catholic 85%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 5%, Buddhist and other 1%.

Languages: Pilipino (based on Tagalog), national language; English, language of government and instruction in education.

Education: . Years compulsory: 6 (note: 6 years of primary education free and compulsory; 4 years of secondary education free but not compulsory). Attendance: 97% in elementary grades, 66% in secondary grades. Literacy: 92.3%.

Health: . Infant mortality rate (2002) 29 per 1,000. Life expectancy (2003) 67.2 yrs. for males; 72.5 yrs. for females.

Work force: (2003) 34.6 million. Services (including commerce and government) 48%; agriculture: 36%; industry: 16%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: 1946.

Constitution: February 11, 1987.

Branches: . Executive: president and vice president. Legislative: bicameral legislature. Judicial: independent.

Administrative subdivisions: 15 regions and Metro Manila (National Capital Region), 79 provinces, 115 cities.

Political parties: Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, Nationalist People's Coalition, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Liberal Party, Aksiyon Demokratiko, Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, and other small parties.

Suffrage: Universal, but not compulsory, at age 18.

Economy

GDP: (2003) $79.3 billion.

Annual GDP growth rate: (2003) 4.7%.

GDP per capita: (2003) $967.

Natural resources: Copper, nickel, iron, cobalt, silver, gold.

Agriculture: . Products: rice, coconut products, sugar, corn, pork, bananas, pineapple products, aquaculture, mangoes, eggs.

Industry: . Types: textiles and garments, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wood products, food processing, electronics assembly, petroleum refining, fishing.

Trade: (2003). Exports: $34.84 billion. Imports: $36.10 billion.


PEOPLE

The majority of Philippine people are of Malay stock, descendants of Indonesians and Malays who migrated to the islands long before the Christian era. The most significant ethnic minority group is the Chinese, who have played an important role in commerce since the ninth century, when they first came to the islands to trade. As a result of intermarriage, many Filipinos have some Chinese and Spanish ancestry. Americans and Spaniards constitute the next largest alien minorities in the country.

More than 90% of the people are Christian; most were converted and Westernized to varying degrees during nearly 400 years of Spanish and American rule. The major non-Hispanicized groups are the Muslim population, concentrated in the Sulu Archipelago and in central and western Mindanao, and the mountain groups of northern Luzon. Small forest tribes still live in the more remote areas of Mindanao.

About 87 native languages and dialects are spoken, all belonging to the Malay-Polynesian linguistic family. Of these, eight are the first languages of more than 85% of the population. The three principal indigenous languages are Cebuano, spoken in the Visayas; Tagalog, predominant in the area around Manila; and Ilocano, spoken in northern Luzon. Since 1939, in an effort to develop national unity, the government has promoted the use of the national language, Pilipino, which is based on Tagalog. Pilipino is taught in all schools and is gaining acceptance, particularly as a second language

Many use English, the most important nonnative language, as a second language, including nearly all professionals, academics, and government workers. In January 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Department of Education to restore English as the medium of instruction in all schools and universities. Only a few Filipino families use Spanish as a first language.

Despite this multiplicity of languages, the Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in the East Asian and Pacific area. About 92% of the population 10 years of age and older are literate.


HISTORY

The history of the Philippines may be divided into four distinct phases: the pre-Spanish period (before 1521); the Spanish period (1521-1898); the American period (1898-1946); and the years since independence (1946-present).

Pre-Spanish Period

The first people in the Philippines, the Negritos, are believed to have come to the islands 30,000 years ago from Borneo and Sumatra, making their way across then-existing land bridges. Subsequently, people of Malay stock came from the south in successive waves, the earliest by land bridges and later in boats called barangays. The Malays settled in scattered communities, also called barangays, which were ruled by chieftains known as datus. Chinese merchants and traders arrived and settled in the ninth century A.D. In the 14th century, Arabs arrived, introducing Islam in the south and extending some influence even into Luzon. The Malays, however, remained the dominant group until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.

Spanish Period

Ferdinand Magellan claimed the Philippines for Spain in 1521, and for the next 377 years, the islands were under Spanish rule. This period was the era of conversion to Roman Catholicism. A Spanish colonial social system was developed, complete with a strong centralized government and considerable clerical influence. The Filipinos were restive under the Spanish, and this long period was marked by numerous uprisings. The most important of these began in 1896 under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo and continued until the Americans defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.

American Period

Following Admiral Dewey's defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, the United States occupied the Philippines. Spain ceded the islands to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (December 10, 1898) that ended the war.

A war of resistance against U.S. rule, led by Revolutionary President Aguinaldo, broke out in 1899. Although Americans have historically used the term "the Philippine Insurrection," Filipinos and an increasing number of American historians refer to these hostilities as the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), and in 1999 the U.S. Library of Congress reclassified its references to use this term. In 1901, Aguinaldo was captured and swore allegiance to the United States, and resistance gradually died out. The conflict ended with a Peace Proclamation on July 4, 1902.

U.S. administration of the Philippines was always declared to be temporary and aimed to develop institutions that would permit and encourage the eventual establishment of a free and democratic government. Therefore, U.S. officials concentrated on the creation of such practical supports for democratic government as public education and a sound legal system.

The first legislative assembly was elected in 1907. A bicameral legislature, largely under Philippine control, was established. A civil service was formed and was gradually taken over by the Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by the end of World War I. The Catholic Church was disestablished, and a considerable amount of church land was purchased and redistributed.

In 1935, under the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel Quezon was elected president of the new government, which was designed to prepare the country for independence after a 10-year transition period. World War II intervened, however, and in May 1942, Corregidor, the last American/Filipino stronghold, fell. U.S. forces in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese, placing the islands under Japanese control.

The war to regain the Philippines began when Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed on Leyte on October 20, 1944. Filipinos and Americans fought together until the Japanese surrender in September 1945. Much of Manila was destroyed during the final months of the fighting, and an estimated 1 million Filipinos lost their lives in the war.

As a result of the Japanese occupation, the guerrilla warfare that followed, and the battles leading to liberation, the country suffered great

damage and a complete organizational breakdown. Despite the shaken state of the country, the United States and the Philippines decided to move forward with plans for independence. On July 4, 1946, the Philippine Islands became the independent Republic of the Philippines, in accordance with the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act. In 1962, the official Independence Day was changed from July 4 to June 12, commemorating the date independence from Spain was declared by General Aguinaldo in 1898.

Post-Independence Period

The early years of independence were dominated by U.S.-assisted postwar reconstruction. A communistinspired Huk Rebellion (1945-53) complicated recovery efforts before its successful suppression under the leadership of President Ramon Magsaysay. The succeeding administrations of Presidents Carlos P. Garcia (1957-61) and Diosdado Macapagal (1961-65) sought to expand Philippine ties to its Asian neighbors, implement domestic reform programs, and develop and diversify the economy.

In 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965-86) declared martial law, citing growing lawlessness and open rebellion by the communist rebels as his justification. Marcos governed from 1973 until mid-1981 in accordance with the transitory provisions of a new constitution that replaced the commonwealth constitution of 1935. He suppressed democratic institutions and restricted civil liberties during the martial law period, ruling largely by decree and popular referenda. The government began a process of political normalization during 1978-81, culminating in the reelection of President Marcos to a 6-year term that would have ended in 1987. The Marcos government's respect for human rights remained low despite the end of martial law on January 17, 1981. His government retained its wide arrest and detention powers. Corruption and favoritism contributed to a serious decline in economic growth and development under Marcos.

The assassination of opposition leader Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino upon his return to the Philippines in 1983, after a long period of exile, coalesced popular dissatisfaction with Marcos and set in motion a succession of events that culminated in a snap presidential election in February 1986. The opposition united under Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino, and Salvador Laurel, head of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO). The election was marred by widespread electoral fraud on the part of Marcos and his supporters. International observers, including a U.S. delegation led by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), denounced the official results. Marcos was forced to flee the Philippines in the face of a peaceful civilian-military uprising that ousted him and installed Corazon Aquino as president on February 25, 1986.

Under Aquino's presidency progress was made in revitalizing democratic institutions and respect for civil liberties. However, the administration was also viewed by many as weak and fractious, and a return to full political stability and economic development was hampered by several attempted coups staged by disaffected members of the Philippine military.

Fidel Ramos was elected president in 1992. Early in his administration, Ramos declared "national reconciliation" his highest priority. He legalized the Communist Party and created the National Unification Commission (NUC) to lay the groundwork for talks with communist insurgents, Muslim separatists, and military rebels. In June 1994, President Ramos signed into law a general conditional amnesty covering all rebel groups, as well as Philippine military and police personnel accused of crimes committed while fighting the insurgents. In October 1995, the government signed an agreement bringing the military insurgency to an end. A peace agreement with one major Muslim insurgent group, the MNLF, was signed in 1996.

Joseph Ejercito Estrada's election as President in May 1998, marked the Philippines' third democratic succession since the ouster of Marcos. Estrada was elected with overwhelming mass support on a platform promising poverty alleviation and an anti-crime crackdown.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, elected Vice President in 1998, assumed the Presidency in January 2001 after widespread demonstrations that followed the breakdown of Estrada's impeachment trial on corruption charges. The Philippine Supreme Court subsequently endorsed unanimously the constitutionality of the transfer of power. National and local elections took place in May 2004. Under the constitution, Macapagal-Arroyo was eligible for another six-year term as president, and she won a hard-fought campaign against her primary challenger, movie actor Fernando Poe, Jr. in elections held May 10, 2004. Noli De Castro was elected Vice President.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The Philippines has a representative democracy modeled on the U.S. system. The 1987 constitution, adopted during the Aquino administration, reestablished a presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary. The president is limited to one 6-year term. Provision also was made in the constitution for autonomous regions in Muslim areas of Mindanao and in the Cordillera region of northern Luzon where many indigenous tribes still live.

The 24-member Philippine Senate is elected at large. There are currently 22 senators; one vacancy is due to the 2002 resignation of the late Blas Ople to become Foreign Secretary and the other to the death of an incumbent senator. The May 2004 national election produced 12 new senators, although, because current Senator Noli De Castro was elected Vice President, he will leave his seat empty and the new Senate will be comprised of 23 senators. Of a maximum 250 members of the House of Representatives, 207 are elected from single member districts. The remainder of the House seats are designated for sectoral party representatives elected at large; currently there are 19 such representatives in the House. The new Congressional term is scheduled to begin in July, 2004. In addition to the 207 district representatives, there will be an additional 24 sectoral party representatives.

When Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the Presidency, her "People Power Coalition," led by the Lakas-CMD party, became the dominant group in Congress. The 75-member Lakas party leads the "Sunshine Coalition," which also includes the 61-member Nationalist People's Coalition, the 22-member Liberal Party, and several other major and minor parties. The LDP party leads the 20-member opposition bloc. In the Senate, the pro-administration coalition controls 12 of the 22 seats. After the May, 2004 election pro-Administration majorities in both the Senate and the House are expected to increase. Members of the Philippine Congress tend to have weak party loyalties and change party affiliation easily.

The government is pursuing corruption-related criminal cases against former President Estrada, who has been in detention since April 2001. In July 2003, a group of approximately 300 soldiers took over an apartment complex in Manila's business district, demanding the resignation of the President and the Secretary of National Defense. The 24-hour crisis ended when Government negotiators persuaded the mutineers to surrender peacefully. In October 2003, some members of Congress pushed for the impeachment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on charges related to the use of judicial funds. In November, the Supreme Court (minus the Chief Justice) ruled the impeachment complaint unconstitutional, and a majority of members of the House of Representatives endorsed that decision.

The government continues to face threats from both Muslim separatist groups and communist insurgents, and rising crime and concerns about the security situation have had a negative impact on tourism and foreign investment. The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which recently gained international notoriety with its kidnappings of foreign tourists in the southern islands, is a major problem for the government. In May 2001, the ASG kidnapped several Americans, beheading one of them in June 2001. In a June 2002 rescue attempt, another American hostage was killed. Efforts to track down and destroy the ASG have met with some success, especially on Basilan, where U.S. troops advised, assisted and trained Philippine soldiers in counterterrorism. ASG elements remain active on Jolo Island and elsewhere in the southwestern Philippines. Philippine security forces captured an Indonesian terrorist with links to Jemaah Islamiyah in 2002; he escaped from custody in July 2003, but police pursued and killed him in October.

In August 2001, the Government reached a cease-fire agreement with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF); negotiations on a final peace agreement continued at a very slow pace amid sporadic fighting. At President Arroyo's May 2003 State Visit to Washington, President Bush pledged diplomatic and financial support for the peace process, a move that both sides embraced. In June 2003, the MILF issued a formal renunciation of terrorism. An ensuing cessation of hostilities has held into mid-2004. The United States Institute of Peace has made proposals for assisting the peace process, in cooperation with the Philippine Government and the MILF, and with the Government of Malaysia as principal mediator. The Department of State in August 2002 added the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA) to the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list. Negotiations between the Government and the CPP's political arm, the National Democratic Front, were suspended in 2001 after the NPA assassinated two members of Congress, although "back-channel" and exploratory talks continued into late 2003.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 1/10/05

President: Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO
Vice President: Noli DE CASTRO
Executive Secretary: Eduardo ERMITA
Sec. of Agrarian Reform: Rene VILLA
Sec. of Agriculture: Arthur Cua YAP
Sec. of the Budget & Management: Emilia BONCODIN
Sec. of Education, Culture, & Sports: Florencio ABAD
Sec. of Energy: Vicente PEREZ
Sec. of Environment & Natural Resources: Michael DEFENSOR
Sec. of Finance: Juanita AMATONG
Sec. of Foreign Affairs: Alberto ROMULO
Sec. of Health: Manuel DAYRIT , Dr.
Sec. of Interior & Local Govt.: Angelo REYES
Sec. of Justice: Raul GONZALEZ
Sec. of Labor & Employment: Patricia SANTO THOMAS
Sec. of National Defense: Avelino CRUZ , Jr.
Sec. of Public Works & Highways: Florante SORIQUEZ
Sec. of Science & Technology: Estrella ALABASTRO
Sec. of Social Welfare & Development: Corazon SOLIMON
Sec. of Socio-Economic Planning: Romulo NERI
Sec. of Tourism: Joseph DURANO
Sec. of Trade & Industry: Cesar PURISIMA
Sec. of Transportation & Communications: Leandro MENDOZA
National Security Adviser: Hermogenes EBDANE , Jr.
Presidential Chief of Staff: Norberto GONZALES
Governor, Central Bank: Rafael BUENAVENTURA
Ambassador to the US: Albert DEL ROSARIO
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Lauro BAJA , Jr.

The Republic of the Philippines maintains an embassy in the United States at 1600 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-467-9300). Consulates general are in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Agana (Guam).


ECONOMY

Since the end of the Second World War, the Philippine economy has had a mixed history of growth and development. Over the years, the Philippines has gone from being one of the richest countries in Asia (following Japan) to being one of the poorest. Growth immediately after the war was rapid, but slowed over time. A severe recession in 1984-85 saw the economy shrink by more than 10%, and perceptions of political instability during the Aquino administration further dampened economic activity. During his administration, President Ramos introduced a broad range of economic reforms and initiatives designed to spur business growth and foreign investment. As a result, the Philippines saw a period of higher growth, but the Asian financial crisis triggered in 1997 slowed economic development in the Philippines once again. President Estrada managed to continue some of the reforms begun by the Ramos administration. Important laws to strengthen regulation and supervision of the banking system (General Banking Act) and securities markets (Securities Regulation Code), to liberalize foreign participation in the retail trade sector, and to promote and regulate electronic commerce were enacted during his abbreviated term. Despite occasional challenges to her presidency and resistance to pro-liberalization reforms by vested interests, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has made considerable progress in restoring macroeconomic stability with the help of a well-regarded economic team. However, despite recent progress, fiscal problems remain one of the economy's weakest points and its biggest vulnerability.

Important sectors of the Philippine economy include agriculture and industry, particularly food processing, textiles and garments, and electronics and automobile parts. Most industries are concentrated in the urban areas around metropolitan Manila. Mining also has great potential in the Philippines, which possesses significant reserves of chromite, nickel, and copper. Significant natural-gas finds off the islands of Palawan have added to the country's substantial geothermal, hydro, and coal energy reserves.

Today's Economy

The Philippines was less severely affected by the Asian financial crisis than its neighbors, aided in part by more than $7 billion in annual remittances from overseas Filipino workers. Except for 1998—when drought and weather-related disturbances pulled down agricultural harvests, combining with the contraction in industrial sector production—real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has recorded positive growth year-on-year. From a 0.6% decline in 1998, GDP expansion picked up in 1999 (3.4%) and 2000 (4.4%) but slowed to barely 2% in 2001 in the context of a global economic slowdown, export slump, and domestic as well as global political and security concerns. Year-on-year GDP growth accelerated to 4.3% in 2002, reflecting the continued resilience of the service sector, gains in industrial sector output, and recovering exports. The economy exhibited resilience during 2003 with 4.7% GDP growth, notwithstanding serious external and domestic shocks. (including the Iraq War, SARS, uncertainties over global economic prospects, sovereign credit-rating downgrades, and resurgent law-and-order worries). It will take a higher, sustained economic-growth path to make more appreciable progress in poverty alleviation given the Philippines' high annual population growth rate of 2.36 percent—one of the highest in Asia.

Agriculture generally suffers from low productivity, low economies-of-scale, and inadequate infrastructure support. Agricultural output fell in 1997 and 1998 due to an El Niñorelated drought but increased by 6.0% in 1999 (over 1998's low base). Growth reverted to more normal rates in 2000 (4.0%) and 2001 (3.7%). Agricultural output (affected by another, albeit milder, dry spell) expanded by 3.8% year-on-year in 2002 and in 2003.

The global economic and electronics-demand slowdown combined with softer prices of resource-based commodities to depress export performance in 2001. Full-year export receipts—which last declined in 1985—contracted by 16.2% year-on-year, dragged down by a nearly 24% drop in revenues from shipments of electronic and telecommunications parts and equipment (which comprise about 60% of annual export revenues). Reflecting improved levels of intra-Asia trade, export receipts expanded from April-December 2002, breaking from 14 consecutive months of negative year-on-year growth and nudging up the full-year 2002 export growth rate to positive territory (10%). Weaker global demand saw 2003 export revenues sputter to 1.4% growth. Export receipts were up 5% year-on-year during the first quarter of 2004.

Although less severely affected than its neighbors, the Philippines' banking sector was not spared from high interest rates and non-performing loan (NPL) levels during the Asian financial crisis and its aftermath. Increases in minimum capitalization requirements, increasing loan-loss provisions, and generally healthy capital-adequacy ratios have helped temper systemic risk. Philippine banks' average NPL ratio, which peaked at 18% in 2002, has since stabilized to between 14%-15%. However, this current performance now lags most hard-hit neighboring countries that have moved more aggressively to address their NPL problem The burden of non-performing assets has squeezed profit margins and inhibited bank lending, posing risks to the longer-term viability and stability of the banking system.

As of end-December 2003, the Philippine peso (which closed at P55.50) had weakened by 4.7% year-on-year and by more than 110% vis-à-vis the US dollar since mid-1997, reflecting uncertainties over export and balance of payments prospects, resurgent peace-and-order worries, and political uncertainties in the run-up to the May 2004 national elections. Elsewhere, there have been some recent, positive developments in the Philippine economy. Year-on-year inflation, a perennial problem in the Philippines, is under control. Year-on-year inflation averaged 3.1% during 2002 and 2003, the lowest since 1987, tempered in part by generally stable food prices, under-utilized capacities, still high unemployment, and government efforts to control utility-rate increases. The Government expects to contain average inflation within a 4%-5% range during 2004 despite cost-push pressures from oil price increases and public utility rate adjustments The monetary authority's adoption since January 2002 of an inflation-targeting framework has enhanced price stability. Although under pressure due in part to higher inflation expectations, domestic interest rates have tapered significantly in recent years, aided by moderate inflation and a stable monetary policy. The Government—which is targeting lower fiscal deficits starting 2003 toward balancing the budget by 2009—contained the full-year 2003 budget deficit to 4.6% of GDP, reflecting spending restraint and more vigorous efforts by tax collection agencies to improve administration, enforcement, and governance.

The Aquino and Ramos administrations opened up the relatively closed Philippine economy and provided a firmer base for sustainable economic growth. After a slow start, President Estrada and his cabinet continued with, and expanded, liberalization and market-based policies and reforms. Efforts to reform the constitution to encourage foreign investment, particularly foreign ownership of land, were abandoned amidst nationalist opposition. Initial optimism about prospects for economic reform also had dimmed amid concerns of governmental corruption. Scandals involving the Philippine Stock Exchange, and the President's close ties to certain businessmen, shook confidence of investors and the business community and ultimately led to successful efforts to impeach and remove President Estrada.

President Macapagal-Arroyo is working to continue with economic reforms in areas beyond retail trade, electronic commerce, banking reform, and securities regulation. Her administration enacted an anti-money laundering law in September 2001 and followed through with amendments in March 2003 to address remaining legal concerns posed by the OECD Financial Action Task Force (FATF). While the Philippines has avoided FATF countermeasures, effective implementation will be key to the Philippines' removal from the FATF's watch list of "noncooperating countries and territories." Although encountering implementation hitches, her administration also enacted legislation to rationalize and privatize the electric power sector. In January 2003, President Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law two priority initiatives to reform the government procurement system (the Government Procurement Reform Act) and to help ease the burden of non-performing assets on the financial sector through the establishment of private asset management companies (the Special Purpose Vehicle Act).

During the first quarter of 2004, she signed into law legislation to ratio-nalize and plug leakages in the Philippines' convoluted documentary stamp tax system and encourage secondary trading of financial instruments, as well as legislation (the Securitization Act) towards establishing the necessary infrastructure and market environment for a wide range of asset-backed securities. She also signed legislation to institutionalize Alternative Dispute Resolution for civil cases to help address the problem of overburdened court dockets.

Notwithstanding favorable developments, the Philippine economy continues to juggle extremely limited financial resources while attempting to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding population and address intensifying demands for the current administration to deliver on its anti-poverty promises. The current high level of government debt, the substantial share of foreign obligations, the emerging risks posed by contingent liabilities (particularly those of the Government's debt-saddled power generation firm, the National Power Corporation), and the worrisome deterioration in the tax collection performance over the past five years have increased the country's vulnerability to severe external and domestic shocks. Reflecting weaknesses in intellectual property rights protection, the country remains on the U.S. Trade Representative's Special 301 Priority Watchlist. Potential foreign investors, as well as tourists, continue to be concerned about law and order, inadequate infrastructure, and governance issues. While trade liberalization presents significant opportunities, intensifying global competition and the emergence of low-wage export economies also pose challenges. Competition from other Southeast Asian countries and from China for investment underlines the need for sustained progress on structural reforms to remove bottlenecks to growth, lower costs of doing business, and promote good public and private sector governance.

Agriculture and Forestry

Arable farmland comprises more than 40% of the total land area. Although the Philippines is rich in agricultural potential, inadequate infrastructure, lack of financing, and government policies have limited productivity gains. Philippine farms produce food crops for domestic consumption and cash crops for export. The agricultural sector employs nearly 40% of the work force but provides less than one-fifth of GDP.

Decades of uncontrolled logging and slash-and-burn agriculture in marginal upland areas have stripped forests, with critical implications for the ecological balance. The government has instituted conservation programs, but deforestation remains a severe problem.

With its 7,107 islands, the Philippines has a very diverse range of fishing areas. Notwithstanding good prospects for the agriculture subsector, the marine fishing industry continues to face a bleak future due to destructive fishing methods, a lack of funds, and inadequate government support.

Industry

Industrial production is centered on processing and assembly operations of the following: food, beverages, tobacco, rubber products, textiles, clothing and footwear, pharmaceuticals, paints, plywood and veneer, paper and paper products, small appliances, and electronics. Heavier industries are dominated by the production of cement, glass, industrial chemicals, fertilizers, iron and steel, and refined petroleum products.

The industrial sector is concentrated in the urban areas, especially in the metropolitan Manila region and has only weak linkages to the rural economy. Inadequate infrastructure, transportation and communication have so far inhibited faster industrial growth, although significant strides have been made in addressing the last of these elements.

Mining

The country is well-endowed with mineral and thermal energy resources. A recent discovery of natural gas reserves off Palawan Island has been brought on-line to generate electricity. Philippine copper, gold and chromite deposits are among the largest in the world. Other important minerals include gold, nickel, silver, coal, gypsum, and sulfur. The Philippines also has significant deposits of clay, limestone, marble, silica, and phosphate.

Despite its rich mineral deposits, the Philippine mining industry is just a fraction of what it was in the 1970s and 1980s when the country ranked among the ten leading gold and copper producers worldwide. Low metal prices, high production costs, and lack of investment in infrastructure have contributed to the industry's overall decline. A January 2004 Philippine Supreme Court decision prohibiting full foreign ownership in mining operations under the 1995 Mining Act has further discouraged international investments in large-scale mining. Largely unregulated, small-scale operators produce the majority of gold but contribute little to tax revenue and have virtually no environmental protection and amelioration programs.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

In its foreign policy, the Philippines cultivates constructive relations with its Asian neighbors, with whom it is linked through membership in ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. The Philippines is a member of the UN and some of its specialized agencies, and began a 2-year term as a member of the UN Security Council in January 2004. Since 1992, the Philippines has been a member of the Non-Aligned Movement. The Government is seeking observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The Philippines has played a key role in ASEAN in recent years and also values its relations with the countries of the Middle East, in no small part because hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are employed in that region. The fundamental Philippine attachment to democracy and human rights is reflected in its foreign policy. Philippine soldiers and police have participated in a number of multilateral civilian police and peacekeeping operations, and a Philippine Army general served as the first commander of the UN Peacekeeping Operation in East Timor. The Philippine Government also has been active in efforts to reduce tensions among rival claimants to the territories and waters of the resource-rich South China Sea. The welfare of the some seven million overseas Filipino workers is considered to be a pillar of Philippine foreign policy. Through foreign exchange remittances, these workers account for approximately ten percent of the gross domestic product.


U.S.-PHILIPPINE RELATIONS

U.S.-Philippine relations are based on shared history and commitment to democratic principles, as well as on economic ties. The historical and cultural links between the Philippines and the U.S. remain strong. The Philippines modeled its governmental institutions on those of the U.S., and continues to share a commitment to democracy and human rights. At the most fundamental level of bilateral relations, human links continue to form a strong bridge between the two countries. There are an estimated 2 million Americans of Philippine ancestry in the United States and more than 120,000 American citizens in the Philippines.

Until November 1992, pursuant to the 1947 Military Bases Agreement, the United States maintained and operated major facilities at Clark Air Base, Subic Bay Naval Complex, and several small subsidiary installations in the Philippines. In August 1991, negotiators from the two countries reached agreement on a draft treaty providing for use of Subic Bay Naval Base by U.S. forces for 10 years. The draft treaty did not include use of Clark Air Base, which had been so heavily damaged by the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo that the U.S. decided to abandon it.

In September 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the bases treaty, and despite further efforts to salvage the situation, the two sides could not reach agreement. As a result, the Philippine Government informed the U.S. on December 6, 1991, that it would have one year to complete withdrawal. That withdrawal went smoothly and was completed ahead of schedule, with the last U.S. forces departing on November 24, 1992. On departure, the U.S. Government turned over assets worth more than $1.3 billion to the Philippines, including an airport and ship-repair facility. Agencies formed by the Philippine Government have converted the former military bases for civilian commercial use, with Subic Bay serving as a flagship for that effort.

The post-U.S. bases era has seen U.S.-Philippine relations improved and broadened, with a prominent focus on economic and commercial ties while maintaining the importance of the security dimension. U.S. investment continues to play an important role in the Philippine economy, while a strong security relationship rests on the 1952 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). In February 1998, U.S. and Philippine negotiators concluded the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), paving the way for increased military cooperation under the MDT. The agreement was approved by the Philippine Senate in May 1999 and entered into force on June 1, 1999. Under the VFA, the U.S. has conducted ship visits to Philippine ports and has resumed large combined military exercises with Philippine forces. Key events in the bilateral relationship include the July 4, 1996 declaration by President Ramos of Philippine-American Friendship Day in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Philippine independence. Ramos visited the United States in April 1998, and then-President Estrada visited in July 2000. President Macapagal-Arroyo (PGMA) met with President Bush in an official working visit in November 2001 and accepted his invitation to a state visit in Washington on May 19, 2003. Numerous U.S. Cabinet-level visits to the Philippines punctuated this period, culminating in a visit by Secretary of State Colin Powell in August 2002. President Bush made a State Visit to the Philippines on October 18, 2003, during which he addressed a joint session of the Philippine Congress—the first American President to do so since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

President Macapagal-Arroyo has repeatedly stressed the close friendship between the Philippines and the United States and her desire to strengthen bilateral ties further. Our governments seek to revitalize and strengthen our partnership by working toward greater security, prosperity, and service to Filipinos and Americans alike. Inaugurated into office on the same day as President Bush, President Macapagal-Arroyo lent strong support to the global war on terrorism and the coalition against Saddam Hussein.

Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) 02-1 in 2002 contributed directly to the Philippines armed forces efforts to root out Abu Sayyaf terrorists and bring development to one formerly terrorist-plagued island. We have intensified our annual cycle of combined military training around the country as well as the military's civil affairs and humanitarian projects, funded by $68 million in U.S. Foreign Military Financing projected between 2002-06. In addition, supplemental counterterrorism funding legislated in 2002 and 2003 added another $55 million. Moreover, the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, $2.4 million in FY 2003, is the largest in Asia and the second largest in the world. At $148 million, the Philippines is the number one recipient in Asia of Excess Defense Articles. The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) was signed in November 2002 after a year-long negotiation process. Similarly, law enforcement cooperation has reached new levels. Our respective agencies have cooperated to bring charges against 15 Abu Sayyaf terrorists, implement our extradition treaty, and train some 700 Filipino law enforcement officers in 2002. In October 2003, the United States designated the Philippines as a Major Non-NATO Ally. The same month, the Philippines joined the select group of countries to have ratified all 12 UN Counterterrorism Conventions.

The United States is also working closely with the Philippines to reduce poverty and increase prosperity. President Bush fully supports President Macapagal-Arroyo's "Strong Republic" reform agenda for rooting out corruption, opening economic opportunity, and investing in health and education. USAID programs, worth $10.9 million in FY 2003, support the Arroyo Administration's war on poverty as well as the GRP reform agenda in critical areas, including anti-money laundering, government procurement, and tax collection. Other USAID programs worth $34.8 million bolstered the Government's efforts to heal divisions in Philippine society through a focus on conflict resolution, livelihood enhancement for former combatants, and economic development in Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, among the poorest areas in the country. Supplemental budget legislation in April 2003 earmarked another $30 million for support to the peace process in Mindanao. Meanwhile, important programs continue in modern family planning, infectious disease control, environmental protection, provision of basic services—as well as PL 480 and 416(B) food aid programs, which together totaled $81.7 million in FY 2003. On the eve of President Bush's October 2003 visit, the U.S. announced a new $33-million USAID education initiative focusing on the southern Philippines.

Nearly 400,000 Americans visit the Philippines each year. Filipinos living in the United States remitted about $4.1 billion to the Philippines in 2003. Providing government services to U.S. and other party's citizens, therefore, constitutes an important aspect of the bilateral relationship. Those services include veterans affairs, social security, and consular operations. Benefits to Filipinos from the U.S Veterans Affairs and Social Security administrations totaled, $143.9 million and $246.7 million, respectively. Many people-to-people programs exist between the U.S. and the Philippines, including Fulbright, International Visitors, and Aquino Fellowship exchange programs, as well as the U.S. Peace Corps.

Trade and Investment

Two-way U.S. trade with the Philippines amounted to nearly $18.1 billion in 2003 (U.S. Department of Commerce data). The strong trade ties between the U.S. and the Philippines are reflected in the fact that some 20% of the Philippines' imports in 2003 came from the U.S., and about one-fifth of its exports were bound for America. The Philippines ranks as our 19th largest export market and our 25th largest supplier. Key exports to the U.S. are semiconductor devices and computer peripherals, automobile parts, electric machinery, textiles and garments, wheat and animal feeds, and coconut oil. In addition to other goods, the Philippines imports raw and semiprocessed materials for the manufacture of semiconductors, electronics and electrical machinery, transport equipment, and cereals and cereal preparations.

The United States traditionally has been the Philippines' largest foreign investor, with about $3.3 billion in estimated investment as of end-2002 according to official U.S. statistics. These investments comprise 22% of the Philippines' foreign direct investment stock. Since the late 1980s, the Philippines has committed itself to reforms that encourage foreign investment as a basis for economic development, subject to certain guidelines and restrictions in specified areas. Under President Ramos, the Philippines expanded reforms, opening the power generation and telecommunications sectors to foreign investment, as well as securing ratification of the Uruguay Round agreement and membership in the World Trade Organization. As noted earlier, President Macapagal-Arroyo administration is continuing such reforms, a position which generally enjoys domestic political support. A major obstacle has been and will continue to be a constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of land and public utilities, which limits maximum ownership to 40%.

During the last few years, the relatively closed Philippine economy has been opened significantly by foreign exchange deregulation, foreign investment and banking liberalization, and tariff and market barrier reduction. In addition, foreign entry into the retail trade sector has been liberalized, with S&R Price as the first foreign company to enter the Philippine retailing market. The Macapagal-Arroyo Government also enacted the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, which aims to restructure the Philippine electric power industry and privatize the National Power Corporation (NPC or Napocor). This legislation presents opportunities for U.S. firms to participate in the power industry in the Philippines. Information and communications technologies, backroom operations such as call centers, and regional facilities or shared-service centers are likewise leading investment opportunities.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

MANILA (E) Address: 1201 Roxas Road, P.O. Box 151, Manila; APO/FPO: PSC 500, APO, AP 96515-1000; Phone: 632-5286300; Fax: 63-2-522-4361; Workweek: Monday-Friday, 7:30am-4:30pm; Website: http://philippines.usembassy.gov

AMB:FRANCIS J. RICCIARDONE
AMB OMS:SHEILA K. DONAHUE
DCM:JOSEPH A. MUSSOMELI, CDA
DCM OMS:MARIA T. DE VEYRA
CG:DAVID T. DONAHUE
POL:SCOTT D. BELLARD
MGT:ROBERT L. LANE
US EXEC DIR:PAUL W. SPELTZ
US ALT EXEC DIR:TROY WRAY
AFSA:MISTY S. KNOTTS
AGR:DAVID C. MILLER
AID:MICHAEL J. YATES
APHIS:LEONIDES L. CARDENAS
ATO:DENNIS B. VOBORIL
CLO:BARBARA YATES
COM/ADB:C. FRANKLIN FOSTER, JR.
CUS:KEVIN R. PETERS
DAO:TERRY P. COOK
DEA:TIMOTHY C. TEAL
ECO:ROBERT P. LUDAN
EEO:CARL S. COCKBURN; MARIA DE VEYRA
FAA:BERT WILLIAMS
FCS:DAVID W. FULTON
FIN:ROBERT J. RIPLEY
FMO:WILLIAM E. BARNHART
GSO:STEPHEN B. HOGARD
IBB:DENNIS G. BREWER
ICASS Chair:STEPHEN P. CUTLER
IMO:STEVEN G. ACKERMAN, Acting
INS:CORAZON LICERIO, Acting
IPO:STEVEN G. ACKERMAN
ISO:BRADLEY L. SUMMERS
ISSO:ROMEO O. BALLESTEROS; DAVID C. PILLMAN
LAB:JOSEPH L. NOVAK
LEGATT:STEPHEN P. CUTLER
PAO:RONALD J. POST
RAMC:JOHN G. MURPHY
RSO:WILLIAM H. LAMB
Last Updated: 1/23/2005

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

January 13, 2005

Country Description: The Philippines is a developing democratic republic located in Southeast Asia. The archipelago consists of more than 7,000 islands, of which 880 are inhabited. The major island groupings are Luzon in the north, the Visayas in the center, and Mindanao in the south. Tourist facilities are available within population centers and the main tourist areas. English is widely spoken in the Philippines, and most signs are in English.

Entry/Exit Requirements: U.S. citizens may enter the Philippines without a visa upon presentation of their U.S. passport valid for at least six months after the date of entry into the Philippines and a return ticket to the United States or an onward ticket to another country. Upon your arrival, immigration authorities will annotate your passport with an entry visa valid for 21 days. If you plan to stay longer than 21 days, you must apply for an extension at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation's main office at Magallanes Drive; Intramuros, Manila, Philippines, or at any of their provincial offices located nationwide (http://www.immigration.gov.ph).

Special requirements exist for the entry of unaccompanied minors. Persons who overstay their visas are subject to fines and detention by Philippine immigration authorities. American citizens are urged to remain aware of their visa status while in the Philippines and to follow immigration laws and regulations strictly. Travelers departing the country from international airports must pay a Passenger Service Charge in Philippine Pesos. For further information on entry/exit requirements, please contact the Embassy of the Philippines at: 1600 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 (telephone: (202) 467-9300), or via the Internet at http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on the Philippines and other countries.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure. A waiver of exclusion must be obtained from a Philippine Embassy or Consulate or from the Bureau of Immigration and Detention in Manila for a child under 15 years of age who plans to enter the Philippines unaccompanied by either a parent or legal guardian. The waiver must be obtained prior to the child's entry into the Philippines.

Safety and Security: The terrorist threat to American citizens in the Philippines remains high, and the Embassy continues to receive reports of ongoing activities by known terrorist groups. Americans traveling to or residing in the Philippines are urged to exercise great caution and maintain heightened security awareness. A number of security-related incidents highlight the risk of travel in certain areas due to kidnappings, bombings, and other violence and criminal activity.

The Philippine government has been engaged on and off in negotiations with Communist and Muslim rebel groups. Nonetheless, rebel activity and armed banditry in certain areas of the Philippines still pose security concerns. The Communist Party of the Philippines and its terrorist military arm, the New People's Army, operate throughout the country and have issued public threats against U.S. citizens and interests in the Philippines. Americans are urged to exercise caution when traveling throughout the country and are specifically warned to avoid hiking or camping in the vicinity of Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga Province.

In Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, kidnappings, bombings, violence, and insurgent activity make travel hazardous in many areas. The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has kidnapped several Americans and other foreign tourists since April 2000. Some were freed after substantial ransoms were paid, some escaped or were rescued by military action, and some were killed. Other kidnapping gangs operate in the same general area and have abducted a number of foreigners for ransom. The Abu Sayyaf Group continues to issue public threats against U.S. citizens and interests in the Philippines.

Americans are urged to defer nonemergency travel to central, southern, and western Mindanao, and the islands of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Jolo, located in the Sulu archipelago in the southwest of the Philippines, due to military operations against kidnappings and other criminal activity.

In October 2002, the United States Government designated the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) a Foreign Terrorist Organization. JI is an extremist group linked to al-Qaeda and other regional terrorist groups and has cells operating throughout Southeast Asia. Extremist groups in the region have demonstrated a capability to carry out transnational attacks in locations where Westerners congregate. Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.

U.S. citizens and interests may also be at increased risk of terrorist actions from foreign or domestic extremist groups in the Philippines. There are periodic reports of plans for possible terrorist acts aimed at U.S. Government facilities or personnel, public and private institutions, and transportation carriers. The U.S. Embassy takes all such threats seriously. The State Department reminds all Americans traveling or living abroad of the need to remain vigilant with regard to personal security issues and to always follow basic and important security countermeasures: do not establish a pattern or routine in movement and travel; vary the times and routes taken to the extent possible; maintain a low profile; and immediately report any unusual activity, to include possible surveillance, to the Philippine Police and the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Travelers are also encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila at tel. (63) (2) 528-6300 for an update of the current security situation, especially if planning to travel outside the Metro Manila area.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

Crime Information: As in many of the major metropolitan areas in the United States, crime is a serious concern in Metro Manila. As a rule of thumb, Americans are advised to exercise good judgment and remain aware of their surroundings. Reports of confidence games, pick-pocketing and credit card fraud are common. Be wary of unknown individuals who attempt to befriend you, especially just after you have arrived in country. A number of recent robberies and assaults involving the "date rape drug" (known locally as Ativan) have occurred; the drug is generally administered to unwitting male and female visitors via food or drink. It is best not to accept food, drink or rides in private vehicles from strangers, even if they appear legitimate. There have been several kidnappings and violent assaults of foreigners in the Metro Manila area, although Americans have not been specifically targeted in such crimes. There have also been reports of vehicles with foreign passengers being robbed by gunmen while driving to and from the international airport.

Taxis are the recommended form of public transportation; however, the following safeguards are important: do not enter a taxi if it has already accepted another passenger, and request that the meter be used. If the driver is unwilling to comply with your requests, it is best to wait for another cab. It is also a good idea to make a mental note of the license plate number should there be a problem. When driving in the city, make certain that the doors are locked and the windows rolled up. All other forms of public transportation, such as the light rail system, buses, and "jeepneys" should be avoided for both safety and security reasons.

Visitors should also be vigilant when using credit cards. One common form of credit card fraud involves the illicit use of an electronic device to retrieve and record information, including the PIN, from the card's magnetic strip. The information is then used to make unauthorized purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this scam, never let your card out of your sight.

A continuing problem is the commercial scam or sting that attempts to sell or to seek negotiation of, fraudulent U.S. securities. Visitors and residents should be wary when presented with supposed Federal Reserve Notes or U.S. securities for sale or negotiation. For further information, consult the Federal Reserve System's Web site at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/SRLETTERS/2003/sr0314.htm

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents; U.S. Government Printing Office; Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Adequate medical care is available in major cities, but even the best hospitals may not meet the standards of medical care, sanitation, and facilities provided by hospitals in the United States. Medical care is limited in rural and more remote areas. Most hospitals will require a down payment of estimated fees in cash at the time of admission.

Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost several or even tens of thousands of dollars. A list of doctors and medical facilities in the Philippines is available on the web page of the U.S. Embassy in Manila at http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, please consult the World Heath Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Philippines is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Travel within the Philippine archipelago is possible by boat, plane, bus, or car. Few tourists rent a car to drive, as the road system is crowded and drivers are undisciplined. Driving off the national highways and paved roads is particularly dangerous, especially at night, and should be avoided. To avoid overcrowded or unsafe transport, exercise caution in planning travel by older, inter-island ferryboats or other public conveyances.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1179.html. For specific information concerning Philippine driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. at tel. (202) 467-9300 or via the Internet at http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org. Please see also related information from the Philippine Department of Tourism at http://www.tourism.gov.ph and http://www.dotpcvc.gov.ph.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Philippines as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of the Philippines' air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Customs Regulations: Philippines customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from the Philippines of items such as firearms and currency. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, D.C. or one of the Philippine consulates in the United States (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco) for specific information regarding customs requirements. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. A current list of those countries with serious problems in this regard can be found at http://www.ustr.gov/Document_Library/Reports_Publications/2004/2004_Special_301/Section_Index.html.

Marriage in the Philippines: The Philippine Government requires foreigners who wish to marry in the Philippines to obtain from his/her Embassy a "Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage" before filing an application for a marriage license. Because there is no national register of marriages in the United States, the U.S. Embassy cannot provide such a certification. As a result, the Philippine Government will accept an "Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage" in its place. Americans may execute this affidavit at the U.S. Embassy in Manila Monday-Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., except for Philippine or American holidays. The American must present his/her U.S. passport. There is a fee of $30.00 or its peso equivalent for the affidavit. Philippine authorities will not accept any substitute document issued in the United States. Before traveling to the Philippines, U.S. military personnel should contact their personnel office regarding Department of Defense joint service regulations.

Execution of the affidavit by a U.S. consular officer is a notarial act and, the consular officer is authorized by U.S. law to refuse to perform the service if the document will be used for a purpose patently unlawful, improper, or inimical to the best interests of the United States (see 22 C.F.R. section 92.9b). Entering into a marriage contract for the principal purpose of facilitating immigration to the United States for an alien is an unlawful act, and the U.S. Code provides penalties for individuals who commit perjury in an affidavit taken by a consular officer. Relationship fraud is a persistent problem in the Philippines, and it is not uncommon for Filipinos to enter into marriages with Americans solely for immigration purposes. Relationships developed via correspondence, particularly those begun on the Internet, are particularly susceptible to manipulation.

The Marriage Application Process: Once an American citizen has obtained from the U.S. Embassy an "Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage," he/she may file an application for a marriage license at the office of the Philippine Civil Registrar in the town or city where one of the parties is a resident. The U.S. citizen applicant must present: (a) the affidavit; (b) the divorce decree(s) or death certificate(s), if applicable, required to verify civil status and legal capacity to contract marriage; (c) their U.S. passport; and (d) documentation regarding parental consent or advice, if applicable. (Persons aged 18 to 21 must have written parental consent to marry in the Philippines; those aged 22 to 24 must have received parental advice. Philippine law prohibits marriage for persons under the age of 18.) A judge, a minister or other person authorized by the Government of the Philippines can perform the marriage.

Marriage to a U.S. citizen confers neither citizenship nor an automatic eligibility for entry to the United States. A foreign spouse requires an immigrant visa to live in the United States. Direct questions about filing an immigrant visa petition to bring a foreign spouse to the United States to the nearest office of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the State Department's Visa Office (telephone: (202) 663-1225) or, while in the Philippines, to the U.S. Embassy Immigrant Visa Unit at http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Philippine laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Philippines are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Capital punishment is possible for certain drug-related crimes.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to travel or intend to travel to a foreign country to engage in criminal sexual activity or to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country. It is important to note that under the new legislation, the act of illicit sexual conduct is sufficient to violate the law—the intent to travel for the purpose of engaging in the criminal sexual activity does not need to be proven.

For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct means: (1) a sexual act with a person under 18 years of age that would be illegal in the United States or (2) any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18.

The Bureau of Immigration arrests several Americans each year on immigration charges of "undesirability," sometimes based solely on complaints arising from personal or business disputes in the Philippines. Frequently, these detainees cannot be deported and/or released from custody until substantial fines are paid and any underlying criminal charges are resolved – a process that sometimes takes months or even years.

Fraud, swindling and "bad debts" are also serious criminal offenses in the Philippines, as is the illegal recruitment of Philippine citizens for employment overseas. Several Americans are currently serving lengthy prison sentences for illegal recruitment activities. The Philippine government also has strict laws against the possession of firearms, and several foreigners have been sentenced to life imprisonment for bringing firearms into the country. Americans who are arrested overseas should immediately ask to contact a U.S. Embassy representative.

Disaster Preparedness: The Philippines is a volcano-, typhoon- and earthquake-prone country. From May to December, typhoons and flash floods often occur. Flooding can cause road delays and cut off bridges. Typhoons in the vicinity of the Philippines can interrupt air and sea links within the country. Volcanic activity is frequent, and periodically the Government of the Philippines announces alerts for specific volcanoes. Earthquakes can also occur throughout the country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.

Children's Issues: Under Philippine law, the mother and father of a child are held to exercise parental control jointly, and child custody cases are considered civil disputes. Parental abduction is not a crime. The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For specific information on child custody cases in the Philippines, please consult the web page of the U.S. Embassy in Manila at http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues web-site at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html or telephone Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

Registration/Embassy and Consulate Location: Americans living in or visiting the Philippines are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website, http://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Philippines. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. (63)(2) 528-6300. The Consular American Citizen Services (ACS) section's fax number is (63)(2) 522-3242 and the ACS web page is at http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

The U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu provides limited services for U.S. citizens. The Consular Agency address is: Business Office, Waterfront Hotel, Lahug, Cebu City, tel. (63) (32) 231-1261.

The Virtual Consulate Davao (http://www.usvirtualconsulatedavao.org.ph) provides targeted information and services of interest to Americans residing in or traveling to Davao. The Virtual Consulate supports email correspondence for queries from American citizens. Regularly scheduled "chat" sessions also allow Americans to interact in real time with the American Citizens Services personnel at the US Embassy.

Public Announcement

November 1, 2004

This Public Announcement is being issued to remind travelers of ongoing security concerns in the Philippines. It supersedes the Public Announcement issued April 28, 2004, and expires on April 30, 2005.

The terrorist threat to Americans in the Philippines remains high, and the Embassy continues to receive reports of ongoing activities by known terrorist groups. In view of a number of security-related incidents and the possibility of future terrorist attacks, and other violence or criminal activity, Americans traveling to or residing in the Philippines are urged to exercise caution and maintain heightened security awareness. Extremist groups present in Southeast Asia, such as Jemaah Islamiyah, have demonstrated transnational capabilities to carry out attacks against locations where Westerners congregate. Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. U.S. citizens are urged to defer non-essential travel to central, southern, and western Mindanao, and the islands of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Jolo, located in the Sulu archipelago in the southwest of the Philippines, due to military operations against kidnappings and other criminal activity. As a precaution, the U.S. Government carefully reviews all travel by official personnel to Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, and emergency services to U.S. citizens in some of these areas may be limited.

Bombings have claimed many lives and injured hundreds in the Philippines over the past few years. The Department of State continues to receive information that there may be future bombings in the Philippines, including against airports, commercial shipping, passenger vessels and seaports. A bombing at a sports arena in Maguindanao Province on January 4, 2004, killed at least 15 persons and injured dozens more. A bombing at the international airport in Davao on March 4, 2003, killed at least 21 people, including one American, and injured over 150 others. In June 2004, two grenades exploded in Metro Manila, reportedly injuring four people near a university campus. In October 2002, one U.S. service member was killed and another injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in Zamboanga City in Mindanao. The February 27, 2004, terrorist bombing and subsequent sinking of Superferry 14 in Manila Bay killed more than 100 people. The Philippine Government has filed related criminal charges against individuals believed associated with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which had previously claimed responsibility for this attack. Other explosive devices have been discovered throughout the Philippines and defused prior to detonation. The U.S. Embassy urges Americans to exercise special caution in public places or when using public transportation.

The Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) continue to engage in discussions that could lead to a peace agreement, and a military ceasefire remains in effect. However, military operations continue in various parts of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago against elements associated with the ASG, the Jemmaah Islamiyah, and the terrorist New People's Army (NPA), the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Americans residing in or visiting these areas should constantly review their security posture, take appropriate action to secure their well-being, and remain in close contact with local police and the Embassy for current information.

The NPA operates throughout the Philippines and has issued public threats against U.S. citizens and interests in the Philippines. In January 2002, an American tourist was shot and killed by an unidentified gunman on the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga Province, an area known for NPA activity. Americans are advised to exercise special caution when traveling throughout the Philippines due to the possibility of armed robberies, kidnappings, and armed clashes between the NPA and government troops in some areas. The ASG continues to issue public threats against U.S. citizens and interests in the Philippines. The ASG has taken hostage large numbers of Filipinos, Americans and foreign tourists since April 2000. Several were freed after substantial ransoms were paid, some escaped or were rescued by military action, and some were killed. In 2002, one American hostage was killed and another injured during a rescue operation after spending more than a year in captivity. Because the ASG has demonstrated its ability to travel long distances by boat to kidnap foreigners, it is possible that other locations in the Philippines, such as beach resorts, could be attacked. Americans should particularly avoid isolated beach resorts or areas where the ASG remains active.

Criminal and political extortionists kidnapped several Filipinos and foreigners, in Metro Manila including three American children in 2003 and an American businessman in 2004. Kidnappers operating in Metro Manila and throughout the Philippines have snatched family members of prominent local business leaders and politicians for financial gain, to make a political statement, or as part of business, land, or personal disputes.

Americans living in or visiting the Philippines are strongly encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Philippines. The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. (63)(2) 528-6300. The Consular American Citizen Services (ACS) section's fax number is (63)(2) 522-3242 and the ACS web page is at http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/rp1/wwwhmain.html.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for the Philippines and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, located at http://travel.state.gov/. For further information, US citizens may contact the Department of State toll-free at 1-888-407-4747, or, if calling from overseas, 317-472-2328.

International Adoption

January 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

Availability of Children for Adoption: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans:

FY-1996: IR-3 immigrant visas issued to Filipino orphans adopted abroad – 31, IR-4 immigrant visas issued to Filipino orphans adopted in the U.S. – 198
FY-1997: IR-3 visas—19,
IR-4 visas – 144
FY-1998: IR-3 visas—33,
IR-4 visas – 167
FY-1999: IR-3 visas—28,
IR-4 visas – 167
FY-2000: IR-3 visas—23,
IR-4 visas—150

Philippine Adoption Authority: The government office responsible for domestic adoptions in Philippines are the Regional Trial Courts, which issue the adoption decrees, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which is also involved in the legal proceedings. For the Inter-country adoptions, the offices responsible for adoption are the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB).

Philippine Adoption Procedures: The adoption procedure differs depending on whether the U.S. citizen adoptive parents are residents in the Philippines or are permanently residing abroad. In general during Inter-country adoptions, custody of the child is granted to the prospective adoptive parents who then bring the child to their home country. The adoption is filed with a court in the adoptive parents' home country.

Domestic Adoption:
1) Pre-Adoption Seminar: The Domestic Adoption Act provides that adoptive parents attend adoption seminars prior to the filing of the adoption application.

2) Application for Adoption: After completing the required pre-adoption seminars, the adoptive parents file the adoption application with the DSWD, a social service office of a local government unit, or a licensed and accredited child-placing agency.

3) Home study: The adoptive parents then make arrangements for a home study to be conducted by the DSWD or a child-placing agency.

4) Matching: Matching of the child to the adoptive parents is conducted by the DSWD.

5) Placement: The child is placed with the prospective adoptive parents once the pre-adoption placement authority has been issued. This period of custody is known as supervised trial custody.

6) Consent to Adoption: At the conclusion of the trial period, the DSWD issues its written consent to adoption.

7) Petition for adoption: Once the adoptive parents have received the consent to adopt, they must file an adoption petition with the Regional Trial Court within thirty days. Upon approval of the adoption, the court issues an adoption decree and enters a judgement.

8) Authorization to travel abroad: Once the adoption is final; the DSWD will issue written authorization for the child to travel abroad. The birth certificate of the child is also amended to reflect the names of the adoptive parents.

Age and Civil Status Requirements: For domestic adoption-the adoptive parent(s) must be at least sixteen years older than the child to be adopted. This requirement may be waived if the petitioner is the biological parent of the adoptee or the spouse of the adoptee's parent. For the inter-country adoption-the adoptive parent(s) must be at least 27 years old, as well as sixteen years older than the child to be adopted. The latter requirement may be waived if the petitioner is the biological parent of the adoptee or the spouse of the adoptee's parent. Single parents are eligible for both types of adoption. If an adoptive parent is married, however, he/she must file jointly with his/her spouse.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family

Doctors: The U.S. Embassy maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems while in Philippines.

Philippine Documentary Requirements:

  • Home study conducted by a licensed and accredited social worker of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, social service office of the local government unit or accredited child-placing agency
  • Birth certificate of adoptive parent(s)
  • Marriage contract or divorce, annulment, declaration of nullity, or legal separation documents for the adoptive parent(s)
  • Written consent to the adoption by all children over the age of ten who are living with the petitioner
  • Physical and medical evaluation by a duly-licensed physician
  • Philippine National Bureau of Investigation police clearance
  • Latest income tax return or other documents showing financial capability
  • Three character references, namely from the local church/minister, the employer, and a nonrelative member of the immediate community who have known the applicant for at least three years
  • 3×5-sized pictures taken within the last three years of the petitioner and his/her immediate family
  • Certificate of attendance of preadoption forums or seminars

Please note that U.S. citizens residing in the Philippines and adopting children while living in the Philippines are subject to additional requirements. These documents need to be authenticated. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Residence Requirements: A U.S. citizen interested in adopting a Filipino child while they are living in the Philippines must meet the following requirements:

  • Be resident in the Philippines for at least three years prior to the filing of the adoption petition and maintain such residence until the adoption decree is entered by a Philippine court
  • Possess a certification of legal capacity to adopt issued by a diplomatic or consular office or any appropriate government agency.
  • To fulfill the requirement for a certification of legal capacity to adopt, the Philippine government will generally accept an approved I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, I-600A Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan, or I-600 Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative.

The government may waive these requirements in the following cases:

A former Filipino citizen who seeks to adopt a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity, as defined under Philippine law;

A person who seeks to adopt the legitimate son/daughter of his/her Filipino spouse; or

A person who is married to a Filipino and who seeks to adopt jointly with his/her spouse a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity, as defined under Philippine law.

U.S. citizens who are not resident in the Philippines and who are not eligible for a waiver of the above requirements may adopt orphan children only through the inter-country adoption process. Questions relating to inter-country adoption should be directed to: The Philippine Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB); P.O. Box 1622; #2 Chicago Corner, Ermin Garcia Streets; Barangay Pinagkaisahan, Cubao, Quezon City; The Philippines; Tel: 632-726-4568; Fax: 632-727-2026; E-mail: [email protected]

U.S. Immigration Requirements: A Filipino child adopted by an American citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family

Philippine Embassy (and Consulates) in the United States: Embassy of the Philippines; 1600 Massachusetts Ave., NW; Washington, DC 20086; Tel: 202-467-9300; 202-467-9382; Fax: 202-328-7614; 202-467-9417; E-mail: [email protected]

Philippines also has Consulates in Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; San Francisco, California; Saipan, MP; Tamuning, Guam; Chicago, Illinois, and Honolulu, Hawaii.

U.S. Embassy (and Consulate) in Manila: U.S. Embassy Manila; 1201 Roxas Blvd.; Ermita, Manila; Philippines; Tel: 632-523-1001; Fax: 632-522-4361; Web site: http://www.usembassy.state.gov/manila

The U.S. also has a consular agent in Cebu.

Questions: Specific questions regarding adoption in Philippines may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Manila. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, Tel: 1-888-407-4747 with specific questions.

International Parental Child Abduction

January 2005

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov

Disclaimer: The information in this circular relates to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries. It is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign counsel.

General Information: The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the Philippines and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. Therefore, there is no treaty remedy by which the left behind parent would be able to pursue recovery of the child/ren should they be abducted to or wrongfully retained in the Philippines. Once in the Philippines, the child/ren would be completely subject to Philippine law for all matters including custody.

Custody Disputes: Parental child abduction is not a crime under Philippine law. Custody disputes are considered civil legal matters that must be resolved between the concerned parties or through the courts in the Philippines. Philippine authorities advise the American Embassy that generally the Philippine courts will give custody of children under the age of seven to the mother, provided there is no evidence that would indicate that the mother is unfit to raise the child.

Although there is no treaty in force between the United States and the Philippines on enforcement of judgments, the Philippine courts will also take into consideration child custody decrees issued by foreign courts in deciding disputes regarding children residing in the Philippines.

The Department of Justice in the Philippines states that, in general, redress in child custody cases is sought through habeas corpus orders/proceedings in court. These orders can be obtained on an expedited basis and direct law enforcement to locate and take a child into custody for the purposes of an emergency hearing. Ideally, these orders and proceedings ensure due process under the local laws as well as providing protection for the child/ren.

In order to bring a custody issue before the Domestic Relations/Family Court, the left-behind parent will require the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in the Philippines. A parent holding a custody decree issued in U.S. courts must therefore retain local counsel in the Philippines to apply to the Philippine courts for recognition and enforcement of the U.S. decree, or to invoke the writ of habeas corpus. Although visitation rights for non-custodial parents are not expressly stipulated in the Philippine Civil Code, court judgments often provide visitation rights for non-custodial parents.

Deportation: While there is an extradition treaty between the United States and the Philippines, parental child abduction is not an extraditable offense. However, if the taking parent is a U.S. citizen whose U.S. passport has been revoked due to an outstanding federal Unlawful Flight to avoid Prosecution (UFAP) warrant or indictment on charges of International Parental Kidnapping (IPKCA) in violation of 18 USC Section 1204, Philippine authorities may consider deportation based on lack of a valid travel document.

Reaching the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that serves the Philippines: The U.S. Embassy in Manila is located at 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila City; tel. (63-2) 523-1001. The Consular American Citizen Services fax number is (63-2) 522-3242 and the ACS web page is http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/rp1/wwwh3004.html. The U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu provides limited services for U.S. citizens. The Consular Agency address is: Third Floor, PCI Bank, Gorordo Avenue, Lahug, Cebu City; tel. (63-32) 231-1261.

Reaching the Foreign Country's Embassy in the U.S.: For further information, contact the Embassy of the Philippines, 1600 Mass. Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 (202/467-9300) or nearest Consulate General: CA (213/387-5321 and 415/433-6666), HI (808/595-6316), IL (312/332-6458), NY (212/764-1330), or Guam (671/646-4620). Internet address: http://us.sequel.net/RPinUS/

Dual Nationality: A child with a parent who was born outside of the U.S. or who has acquired a second nationality through naturalization in another country may have a claim to citizenship in that country. There is no requirement that a U.S. citizen parent consent to the acquisition by his/her child of another nationality and in many cases a parent is unaware that his/her child may have dual citizenship. The Embassy of the Philippines in Washington D.C. will be able to provide more detailed information on whether your child has a claim. For additional information, see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality flyer.

Initiating Foreign Enforcement Proceedings Under Local Law: If a country is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, it may be necessary for you to initiate a child custody action in the courts in the foreign country. For additional information, see judicial assistance for the Philippines on the Internet. Consular Information Sheet (CIS) for the Philippines can be accessed via the Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

Retaining a Foreign Attorney: A list of English speaking attorneys is available from the U.S. State Department Office of American Citizens Services. See also the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory available in law libraries. It may be helpful to provide your foreign attorney with copies of any state laws concerning child custody orders and their enforcement in the U.S.

Legal Aid: Some countries provide legal aid services in child custody cases. The legal attache or consular section of the foreign embassy in Washington, D.C. may have specific guidance. For addresses and phone numbers of foreign embassies in Washington, see the heading "Entry Requirements" in the Office of American Citizen Services' country specific Consular Information Sheets via our home page on the Internet. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children maintains a list of attorneys interested in Hague Convention and International Child Custody cases. You may obtain additional information about the attorney program at the National Center by calling 1-800-843-5678 or 703-274-3900. The Internet home page for the National Center can be reached directly at www.missingkids.org.

Authentication and Translation of Documents: It may be necessary for you to provide foreign authorities or your attorney with authenticated, translated copies of your child custody order and any other pertinent documents. Consult your foreign attorney before going to this expense. See also the U.S. State Department's Authentications Office home page at http://www.state.gov.

Service of Process: If you need to serve process on a person abroad in connection with a child custody case, you may obtain copies of our country specific judicial assistance flyers on this subject through via our home page on the Internet at http://caweb/cainternet/judicial_assistance.html. See also, Service of Process Abroad, Hague Service Convention, Inter-American Letters Rogatory Service Convention, and Preparation of Letters Rogatory.

Criminal Remedies: The Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs works with US prosecuting attorneys, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and with Interpol (an international police agency) in a joint cooperative effort to return persons charged with US crimes from foreign countries. Extradition of the abducting adult may not result in the return of the child. Foreign countries may refuse to extradite a person to the US if that person is also a citizen of the foreign country. Foreign countries may not recognize parental abduction as a crime. Please note that the extradition process applies only to the abducting adult/fugitive and not the child. The proper channel for the return of the child is through civil mechanisms or voluntary return arrangements. Additional information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org.

Questions: Additional questions may be addressed to: Office of Children's Issues; SA-29; U.S. Department of State; 2201 C Street, NW; Washington, DC 20520-2818; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

views updated

Philippines

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-PHILIPPINE RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the October 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Republic of the Philippines

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 300,000 sq. km. (117,187 sq. mi.).

Cities: (2005 estimate) Capital—Manila (pop. 11.29 million in metropolitan area); other cities—Davao City (1.33 million); Cebu City (0.82 million).

Terrain: Islands, 65% mountainous, with narrow coastal lowlands.

Climate: Tropical, astride typhoon belt.

People

Nationality: Noun—Filipino(s). Adjective—Philippine.

Population: (2007 estimate) 88.71 million; estimate for 2006: 86.97 million.

Annual growth rate: 1.993%.

Ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese.

Religions: Catholic 85%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 5%, Buddhist and other 1%.

Languages: Pilipino (based on Taga-log), national language; English, language of government and instruction in education.

Education: Years compulsory—6 (note: 6 years of primary education free and compulsory; 4 years of secondary education free but not compulsory). Attendance—94% in elementary grades, 64% in secondary grades. Literacy—93.4%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2003)—29 per 1,000. Life expectancy (2005)—64.10 yrs. for males; 70.10 yrs. for females.

Work force: (2006) 35.84 million. Services: (including commerce and government, 2006)—49%; agriculture—36%; industry—15%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: 1946.

Constitution: February 11, 1987.

Government branches: Executive—president and vice president. Legislative—bicameral legislature. Judicial—independent.

Political subdivisions: 15 regions and Metro Manila (National Capital Region), 79 provinces, 115 cities.

Political parties: Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, Nationalist People's Coalition, Laban ng Demokra-tikong Pilipino, Liberal Party, Aksiyon Demokratiko, Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, and other small parties.

Suffrage: Universal, but not compulsory, at age 18.

Economy

GDP: (2006) $117.6 billion.

Annual GDP growth rate: (2006) 5.4% at constant prices.

GDP per capita: (2006) $1,352.

Natural resources: Copper, nickel, iron, cobalt, silver, gold.

Agriculture: Products—rice, coconut products, sugar, corn, pork, bananas, pineapple products, aquaculture, mangoes, eggs.

Industry: Types—textiles and garments, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wood products, food processing, electronics assembly, petroleum refining, fishing.

Trade: (2006) Exports—$47.4 billion. Imports—$51.8 billion.

PEOPLE

The majority of Philippine people are descendants of Indonesians and Malays who migrated to the islands in successive waves over many centuries and largely displaced the aboriginal inhabitants. The largest ethnic minority now is the mainland Asians (called Chinese), who have played an important role in commerce for many centuries since they first came to the islands to trade. Arabs and Indians also traveled and traded in the Philippines in the first and early second millennium. As a result of intermarriage, many Filipinos have some Asian mainland, Spanish, American, Arab, or Indian ancestry. After the mainland Asians, Americans and Spaniards constitute the next largest minorities in the country.

More than 90% of the people are Christian as a result of the nearly 400 years of Spanish and American rule. The major non-Hispanicized groups are the Muslim population, concentrated in the Sulu Archipelago and in central and western Mindanao, and the mountain aboriginal groups of northern Luzon. Small forest tribes still live in the more remote areas of Mindanao.

About 87 languages and dialects are spoken, most belonging to the Malay-Polynesian linguistic family. Of these, eight are the first languages of more than 85% of the population. The three principal indigenous languages are Cebuano, spoken in the Visayas; Tagalog, predominant in the area around Manila; and Ilocano, spoken in northern Luzon. Since 1939, in an effort to develop national unity, the government has promoted the use of the national language, Pilipino, which is based on Tagalog. Pilipino is taught in all schools and is gaining widespread acceptance across the archipelago. Many use English, Fukienese, or Mandarin as second languages. Nearly all professionals, academics, and government workers speak some English. In January 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Department of Education to restore English as the medium of instruction in all schools and universities. Only a few Filipino families use Spanish as a second language.

The Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in the developing world. About 92% of the population 10 years of age and older are literate.

HISTORY

The history of the Philippines can be divided into four distinct phases: the pre-Spanish period (before 1521); the Spanish period (1521-1898); the American period (1898-1946); and the post-independence period (1946-present).

Pre-Spanish Period

The first people in the Philippines, the Negritos, are believed to have come to the islands 30,000 years ago from Borneo and Sumatra, making their way across then-existing land bridges. Subsequently, Malays came from the south in successive waves, the earliest by land bridges and later in boats by sea. The Malays settled in scattered communities, named barangays after the large outrigger boats in which they arrived, and ruled by chieftains known as datus. Chinese merchants and traders arrived and settled in the ninth century, sometimes traveling on the ships of Arab traders, introducing Islam in the south and extending some influence even into Luzon. The Malays, however, remained the dominant group until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.

Spanish Period

Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines and claimed the archipelago for Spain in 1521, but stayed for only a few days. Christianity was established in the Philippines only after the arrival of the succeeding Spanish expeditionary forces (the first led by Legazpi in the 16th century) and the Spanish Jesuits, and in the 17th and 18th centuries by the conquistadores.

Until Mexico proclaimed independence from Spain in 1810 the islands were under the administrative control of Spanish North America, and there was significant migration between North America and the Philippines. This period was the era of conversion to Roman Catholicism. A Spanish colonial social system was developed with a local government centered in Manila and with considerable clerical influence. Spanish influence was strongest in Luzon and the central Philippines but less so in Mindanao, save for certain coastal cities.

The long period of Spanish rule was marked by numerous uprisings. Towards the latter half of the 19th century, European-educated Filipinos or ilustrados (such as the Chinese Filipino national hero Jose Rizal) began to criticize the excesses of Spanish rule and instilled a new sense of national identity. This movement gave inspiration to the final revolt against Spain that began in 1896 under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo (another Chinese Filipino) and continued until the Americans defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.

American Period

Following Admiral George Dewey's defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, the U.S. occupied the Philippines. Spain ceded the islands to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (December 10, 1898) that ended the war.

A war of resistance against U.S. rule, led by revolutionary General Aguinaldo, broke out in 1899. This conflict claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Filipinos and thousands of Americans. Filipinos and an increasing number of American historians refer to these hostilities as the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), and in 1999, the U.S. Library of Congress reclassified its references to use this term. In 1901, Aguinaldo was captured and swore allegiance to the U.S., and resistance gradually died out until the conflict ended with a Peace Proclamation on July 4, 1902. However, armed resistance continued sporadically until 1913, especially among the Muslims in Mindanao and Sulu, with heavy casualties on both sides.

U.S. administration of the Philippines was always declared to be temporary and aimed to develop institutions that would permit and encourage the eventual establishment of a free and democratic government. Therefore, U.S. officials concentrated on the creation of such practical supports for democratic government as public education, public infrastructure, and a sound legal system.

The first legislative assembly was elected in 1907, and a bicameral leg-

islature, largely under Filipino control, was established. A civil service was formed and was gradually taken over by the Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by the end of World War I. The Catholic Church was disestablished, and a considerable amount of church land was purchased and redistributed.

In 1935, under the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel Quezon was elected president of the new government, which was designed to prepare the country for independence after a 10-year transition period. World War II intervened, however, and in May 1942, Corregidor, the last American/ Filipino stronghold, fell. U.S. forces in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese, placing the islands under Japanese control. During the occupation, thousands of Filipinos fought a running guerilla campaign against Japanese forces.

The full-scale war to regain the Philippines began when General Douglas MacArthur landed on Leyte on October 20, 1944. Filipinos and Americans fought together until the Japanese surrendered in September 1945. Much of Manila was destroyed during the final months of the fighting, making it the second most devastated city in World War II after Warsaw. In total, an estimated one million Filipinos lost their lives in the war.

Due to the Japanese occupation, the guerrilla warfare that followed, and the battles leading to liberation, the country suffered great damage and a complete organizational breakdown. Despite the shaken state of the country, the U.S. and the Philippines decided to move forward with plans for independence. On July 4, 1946, the Philippine Islands became the independent Republic of the Philippines, in accordance with the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act. In 1962, the official Philippine Independence Day was changed from July 4 to June 12, commemorating the date independence from Spain was declared by Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898.

Post-Independence Period

The early years of independence were dominated by U.S.-assisted postwar reconstruction. The communist-inspired Huk Rebellion (1945-53) complicated recovery efforts before its successful suppression under the leadership of President Ramon Mag-saysay The succeeding administrations of Presidents Carlos P. Garcia (1957-61) and Diosdado Macapagal (1961-65) sought to expand Philippine ties to its Asian neighbors, implement domestic reform programs, and develop and diversify the economy.

In 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965-86) declared martial law, citing growing lawlessness and open rebellion by the communist rebels as his justification. Marcos governed from 1973 until mid-1981 in accordance with the transitory provisions of a new constitution that replaced the commonwealth constitution of 1935. He suppressed democratic institutions and restricted civil liberties during the martial law period, ruling largely by decree and popular referenda. The government began a process of political normalization during 1978-81, culminating in the reelection of President Marcos to a six-year term that would have ended in 1987. The Marcos government's respect for human rights remained low despite the end of martial law on January 17, 1981. His government retained its wide arrest and detenion powers, and corruption and croyism contributed to a serious decline in economic growth and development.

The assassination of opposition leader Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino upon his return to the Philippines in 1983 after a long period of exile coalesced popular dissatisfaction with Marcos and set in motion a succession of events that culminated in a snap presidential election in February 1986. The opposition united under Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino, and Salvador Laurel, head of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO). The election was marred by widespread electoral fraud on the part of Marcos and his supporters. International observers, including a U.S. delegation led by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), denounced the official results. Marcos was forced to flee the Philippines in the face of a peaceful civilian-military uprising that ousted him and installed Corazon Aquino as president on February 25, 1986.

Under Aquino's presidency, progress was made in revitalizing democratic institutions and civil liberties. However, the administration was also viewed by many as weak and fractious, and a return to full political stability and economic development was hampered by several attempted coups staged by disaffected members of the Philippine military.

Fidel Ramos was elected president in 1992. Early in his administration, Ramos declared “national reconciliation” his highest priority. He legalized the Communist Party and created the National Unification Commission (NUC) to lay the groundwork for talks with communist insurgents, Muslim separatists, and military rebels. In June 1994, President Ramos signed into law a general conditional amnesty covering all rebel groups, as well as Philippine military and police personnel accused of crimes committed while fighting the insurgents. In October 1995, the government signed an agreement bringing the military insurgency to an end. A peace agreement with one major Muslim insurgent group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was signed in 1996, using the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as a vehicle for self-government.

Popular movie actor Joseph Ejercito Estrada's election as president in May 1998 marked the Philippines' third democratic succession since the ouster of Marcos. Estrada was elected with overwhelming mass support on a platform promising poverty alleviation and an anti-crime crackdown.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, elected vice president in 1998, assumed the presidency in January 2001 after widespread demonstrations that followed the breakdown of Estrada's impeachment trial on corruption charges. The Philippine Supreme Court subsequently endorsed unanimously the constitutionality of the transfer of power. National and local elections took place in May 2004. Under the constitution, Arroyo was eligible for another six-year term as president, and she won a hard-fought campaign against her primary challenger, movie actor Fernando Poe, Jr., in elections held May 10, 2004. Noli De Castro was elected vice president.

Impeachment charges were brought against Arroyo in June 2005 for allegedly tampering with the results of the elections after purported tapes of her speaking with an electoral official during the vote count surfaced, but Congress rejected the charges in September 2005. Similar charges were discussed and dismissed by Congress in the summer of 2006.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The Philippines has a representative democracy modeled on the U.S. system. The 1987 constitution, adopted during the Aquino administration, reestablished a presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary. The president is limited to one six-year term. Provision also was made in the constitution for autonomous regions in Muslim areas of Mindanao and in the Cordillera region of northern Luzon, where many aboriginal tribes still live.

The 24-member Philippine Senate is elected at large, and all senators serve six-year terms. Half are elected every three years. Of a maximum of 250 members in the House of Representatives, 212 are elected from single-member districts to serve three-year terms. The remainder of the House seats are designated for sectoral party representatives elected at large, called party list representatives. All representatives serve three-year terms, with a maximum of three consecutive terms. On May 14, 2007, legislative and local elections were held. President Arroyo's coalition won 195 of 220 seats in the House of Representatives, 72 of 81 gubernatorial seats, and 102 of 118 city mayoral seats. However, the President's coalition won only two out of 12 vacant seats in the Philippine Senate. Although the election was marred by some violence and irregularities, civil society monitoring groups played a welcome and active role in ensuring a relatively fair and democratic process.

The government continues to face threats from terrorist groups, including the Communist New People's Army and Muslim groups. The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which gained international notoriety with its kidnappings of foreign tourists in the southern islands, remains a major problem for the government, along with members of the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Efforts to track down and destroy the ASG and JI have met with some success, especially in Basilan and Jolo, where U.S. troops advised, assisted, and trained Philippine soldiers in counterterrorism. In August 2006, the Armed Forces of the Philippines began a major offensive against ASG and JI on the island of Jolo. This offensive was remarkably successful and resulted in the deaths of Abu Sayyaf leader Khadafy Janjalani and his deputy, Abu Solaiman. The U.S. Government provided rewards to Philippine citizens whose information led to these deaths in the military operations, as well as to many other operations against terrorist leaders.

An international monitoring team continues to watch over a four-year-old cease-fire agreement between the government and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In June 2003, the MILF issued a formal renunciation of terrorism. Talks on a peace accord between the two sides continue, with the Government of Malaysia acting as principal mediator.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO

Vice Pres.: Manuel Noli DE CASTRO, Jr.

Executive Sec: Eduardo ERMITA

Chief of Staff: Jose SALCEDA

Sec. of Agrarian Reform: Nasser PANGANDAMAN

Sec. of Agriculture: Arthur YAP

Sec. of the Budget & Management: Rolando ANDAYA

Sec. of Education, Culture, & Sports: Jesli LAPUS

Sec. of Energy: Angelo REYES

Sec. of Environment & Natural Resources: Jose ATIENZA, Jr.

Sec. of Finance: Margarito Gary TEVES

Sec. of Foreign Affairs: Alberto ROMULO

Sec. of Health: Francisco DUQUE III

Sec. of Interior & Local Govt: Ronaldo PUNO

Sec. of Justice: Raul GONZALEZ

Sec. of Labor & Employment: Arturo BRION

Sec. of National Defense: Gilberto TEODORO, Jr.

Sec. of Public Works & Highways: Hermogenes EBDANE, Jr.

Sec. of Science & Technology: Estrella ALABASTRO

Sec. of Social Welfare & Development: Esperanza CABRAL

Sec. of Socioeconomic Planning: Romulo NERI

Sec. of Tourism: Joseph DURANO

Sec. of Trade & Industry: Peter FAVILA

Sec. of Transportation & Communications: Leandro MENDOZA

National Security Adviser: Norberto GONZALES

Governor, Central Bank: Amando TETANGCO, Jr.

Ambassador to the US: Willy GAA

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Hilario DAVIDE

The Republic of the Philippines maintains an embassy in the United States at 1600 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-467-9300). Consulates general are in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Agana (Guam).

ECONOMY

Since the end of World War II, the Philippine economy has had a mixed history of growth and development. Over the years, the Philippines has gone from being one of the richest countries in Asia (following Japan) to being one of the poorest. Growth immediately after the war was rapid, but slowed over time. Years of economic mismanagement and political instability under the Marcos regime eventually harmed economic growth and grossly adversely affected macroeconomic instability. A severe recession in 1984-85 saw the economy shrink by more than 10%, and perceptions of political instability during the Aquino administration further dampened economic activity. During his administration, President Ramos introduced a broad range of economic reforms and initiatives designed to spur business growth and foreign investment. As a result, the Philippines saw a period of higher growth, but the Asian financial crisis triggered in 1997 slowed economic development in the Philippines once again. President Estrada managed to continue some of the reforms begun by the Ramos administration. Important laws to strengthen regulation and supervision of the banking system (General Banking Act) and securities markets (Securities Regulation Code), to liberalize foreign participation in the retail trade sector, and to promote and regulate electronic commerce were enacted during his abbreviated term. Efforts to reform the constitution to encourage foreign investment, particularly foreign own-ership of land, were abandoned amidst nationalist opposition. Initial optimism about prospects for economic reform also had dimmed amid concerns of governmental corruption. Scandals involving the Philippine Stock Exchange, and the President's close ties to certain businessmen, shook the confidence of investors and the business community and ultimately led to successful efforts to impeach and remove President Estrada.

Despite occasional challenges to her presidency and resistance to pro-liberalization reforms by vested interests, President Arroyo has made considerable progress in restoring macroeconomic stability with the help of a well-regarded economic team. Nonetheless, long-term economic growth remains threatened by widespread poverty, crumbling infrastructure and education systems, and trade and investment barriers. Important sectors of the Philippine economy include agriculture and industry, particularly food processing; textiles and garments; and electronics and automobile parts. Most industries are concentrated in the urban areas around metropolitan Manila. Mining also has great potential in the Philippines, which possesses significant reserves of chromate, nickel, and copper. Significant natural gas finds off the islands of Palawan have added to the country's substantial geothermal, hydro, and coal energy reserves.

GDP grew by 5.4% in 2006, marking the first time since the 1970s with three consecutive years of growth over 5%. Historically, the Philippines has had difficulty sustaining growth at over 5%. GDP increased by 6% in 2004, a 15-year high, and by 5% in 2005. Growth in 2006 was fueled by increased electronics exports, growth in the outsourcing industry, and a 20% increase in remittances from overseas workers to $12.8 billion and about 11% of GDP. GDP growth is expected to finish 2007 closer to the upper end of the government's targeted 6.1%-6.7% growth range. Still, it will take a higher, sustained economic growth path to make more appreciable progress in poverty alleviation given the Philippines' annual population growth rate of nearly 2%—one of the highest in Asia.

At $3.8 billion, the overall balance of payments ended 2006 with its largest surplus in nearly a decade. Exports totaled $47.4 billion in 2006, relying heavily on electronics shipments for about two-thirds of export revenues. Although there has been some improvement over the years, local value added of electronics exports remains relatively low at about 30%. Net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow rose to $2.35 billion in 2006, nearly double the 2005 level. The U.S. remains the Philippines' largest trading partner with over $17 billion in two-way trade, and the largest investor with more than $6.5 billion in total FDI. Increased export revenue, investment inflows, and foreign remittances helped produce a current account surplus of $5 billion in 2006 (equivalent to 4.3% of GDP).

Increased foreign capital inflows made the Philippine stock market among the top performers in East Asia during 2006. Similarly, the Philippine peso appreciated about 7.5% to the U.S. dollar, making it among East Asia's best performing currencies in 2005-2006. The Philippines maintained reserves of foreign exchange and gold of $22.97 billion, adequate for 4.3 months of goods and services imports and equivalent to 2.5 times foreign debts maturing over the next 12 months.

Determined efforts to avert a fiscal and debt crisis through a combination of expenditure control and, more recently, new revenue measures have contributed significantly to positive financial sector indicators and the current air of cautious optimism. December 2004 legislation provided for biennial adjustments to the excise tax rates for tobacco and liquor products until 2011, while a law signed in January 2005 seeks to institute a per-formance-based rewards and penalty system in the government's revenue collection agencies. Despite public resistance and initial legal challenges, the government began implementing an expanded Value Added Tax law in November 2005, which added an estimated 75 billion pesos ($1.5 billion) to national government revenues during 2006 (equivalent to 1.2% of GDP).

Although still below the 17% peak of 1997 and the performance of most other countries in the region, the tax-to-GDP ratio—which had slipped to 12.5% by 2004 before improving to 13.0% in 2005—inched up for a second consecutive year to 14.3%. From a record $4.1 billion (5.3% of GDP) in 2002, the national government has recorded declining fiscal deficits for four consecutive years (to 0.6% of GDP in 2006) and targets balancing the budget by 2008. Consolidated public sector debt (which also includes the Central Bank, government-owned and controlled corporations, state-run social security agencies, and local government units) has declined from 2003's peak 118%-of-GDP ratio to under 90% of GDP. Major credit rating agencies raised their rating outlook for Philippine sovereign debt from “negative” to “stable” in recognition of fiscal progress. Interest rates on local government borrowings have come down, and spreads on foreign bonds have tightened significantly. Looking forward, further reforms are needed to ease fiscal pressures from large losses being sustained by a number of government-owned firms. Although steps have been taken to improve their financial health, challenges still remain to ensuring the long-term viability of state-run pension funds.

The Philippines was less severely affected by the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s than its neighbors, aided in part by its high level of annual remittances from overseas workers, no sustained run-up in asset prices, and more moderate debt prior to the crises. Nonetheless, the Philippines' banking sector was not spared from high interest rates and non-performing asset (NPA) levels during the Asian financial crisis and its aftermath. Increases in minimum capitalization requirements, increasing loan-loss provisions, and generally healthy capital-adequacy ratios have helped temper systemic risk. The Central Bank has been working with the banking sector for the adoption of international risk assessment and capital adequacy standards, as well as international accounting standards. The Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) Act of January 2003, which provides time-bound fiscal and regulatory incentives to encourage the sale to private asset management companies, has helped to reduce banks' portfolios of non-performing assets. Under the SPV, commercial banks were able to reduce their NPAs by 14% in 2006. The ratio of non-per-forming assets to total commercial banking system assets—which peaked at 18.3% in October 2001— has reverted to single-digit levels since mid-2005 and had declined to 6.5% of assets by end-2006. Nevertheless, circumstances surrounding bank closures continue to highlight remaining impediments to more effective bank supervision and timely intervention—including stringent bank secrecy laws, obstacles preventing bank regulators from examining banks at will, and inadequate legal protection for Central Bank officials and examiners.

The Central Bank's adoption since January 2002 of an inflation-targeting framework has enhanced transparency in the conduct of monetary policy. The inflation rate averaged 6.2% in 2006, down from 7.6% in 2005, and is expected to fall further to under 3% in 2007, comfortably below the Central Bank's target of 4-5%.

The Arroyo administration enacted an anti-money laundering law in September 2001 and followed through with amendments in March 2003 to address remaining legal concerns posed by the OECD Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The FATF removed the Philippines from its list of Non-Cooperating Countries and Territories in February 2005, noting the significant progress made to remedy concerns and deficiencies identified by the FATF to improve implementation. The Egmont Group, the international network of financial intelligence units, admitted the Philippines to its membership in June 2005.

Although encountering implementation hitches, the Arroyo administration also enacted legislation in 2001 to rationalize the electric power sector and privatize the government's debt-saddled National Power Corporation (NPC). The government has achieved some success in establishing an independent regulatory system for electricity pricing that will benefit NPC finances. In addition to the Special Purpose Vehicle law, President Arroyo also signed into law in 2003 a priority initiative to reform the government procurement system (the Government Procurement Reform Act). During the first quarter of 2004, she signed into law legislation to rationalize and plug leakages in the Philippines' convoluted documentary stamp tax system and encourage secondary trading of financial instruments, as well as legislation (the Securitization Act) towards establishing the necessary infrastructure and market environment for a wide range of asset-backed securities. She also signed legislation to institutionalize Alternative Dispute Resolution for civil cases to help address the problem of overburdened court dockets.

The U.S. Trade Representative removed the Philippines from its Special 301 Priority Watchlist in 2006, reflecting improvement in its enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. However, sustained effort and continuing progress on key IPR issues will be essential to maintain this status.

Despite a number of policy reforms and recent good news, the Philippines continues to face important challenges and must sustain the reform momentum to catch up with its regional neighbors and to translate the current cautious optimism into the long-term confidence required to spur investments, achieve higher growth, generate employment, and alleviate poverty for a rapidly expanding population. Absent new revenue measures, sustained fiscal stability will require more aggressive tax collection efficiency to address the severe under-spending in infrastructure and social services in recent years of tight budgets. Addressing delays in power sector privatization remains critical to the long-term stability of public sector finances, ensuring reliable electricity supply, and to bringing down the high cost of power.

Potential foreign investors, as well as tourists, continue to be concerned about law and order, inadequate infrastructure, policy and regulatory instability, and governance issues. While trade liberalization presents significant opportunities, intensifying global competition and the emergence of low-wage export economies also pose challenges. Competition from other Southeast Asian countries and from China for investment underlines the need for sustained progress on structural reforms to remove bottlenecks to growth, to lower costs of doing business, and to promote good public and private sector governance.

The government has been working to reinvigorate its anti-corruption drive, and the Office of the Ombudsman has reported improved conviction rates. Nevertheless, the Philippines will need to do more to improve international perception of its anti-corruption campaign—an effort that will require strong political will and significantly greater financial and human resources.

Agriculture and Forestry

Arable farmland comprises more than 40% of the total land area. Although the Philippines is rich in agricultural potential, inadequate infrastructure, lack of financing, and government policies have limited productivity gains. Philippine farms produce food crops for domestic consumption and cash crops for export. The agricultural sector employs more than one-third of the work force but provides less than one-fifth of GDP.

Decades of uncontrolled logging and slash-and-burn agriculture in marginal upland areas have stripped forests, with critical implications for the ecological balance. The government has instituted conservation programs, but deforestation remains a severe problem.

With its 7,107 islands, the Philippines has a very diverse range of fishing areas. Notwithstanding good prospects for the agriculture subsector, the marine fishing industry continues to face a bleak future due to destructive fishing methods, a lack of funds, and inadequate government support. Agriculture generally suffers from low productivity, low economies of scale, and inadequate infrastructure support. Agricultural output fell in 1997 and 1998 due to an El Niño-related drought but increased by 6.0% in 1999 (over 1998's low base). Growth reverted to more normal rates in 2000 (4.0%) and 2001 (3.7%). Agricultural output (affected by another, albeit milder, dry spell) expanded by 3.9% year-on-year in 2002 and 3.2% in 2003. Agricultural output increased by 5.1% in real terms during 2004 but stagnated to 2.24% in 2005 due to drought and intermittent weather disturbances. Despite the adverse effects of successive and very strong typhoons in the last four months of 2006, the overall annual farm output expanded by 3.8%.

Industry

Industrial production is centered on the processing and assembly operations of the following: food, beverages, tobacco, rubber products, textiles, clothing and footwear, pharmaceuticals, paints, plywood and veneer, paper and paper products, small appliances, and electronics. Heavier industries are dominated by the production of cement, glass, industrial chemicals, fertilizers, iron and steel, and refined petroleum products.

The industrial sector is concentrated in urban areas, especially in the metropolitan Manila region, and has only weak linkages to the rural economy. Inadequate infrastructure, transportation, and communication have so far inhibited faster industrial growth, although significant strides have been made in addressing the last of these elements.

Mining

The Philippines is one of the world's most highly mineralized countries, with untapped mineral wealth estimated at more than $840 billion. Philippine copper, gold, and chromate deposits are among the largest in the world. Other important minerals include nickel, silver, coal, gypsum, and sulfur. The Philippines also has significant deposits of clay, limestone, marble, silica, and phosphate. The discovery of natural gas reserves off Palawan has been brought on-line to generate electricity.

Despite its rich mineral deposits, the Philippine mining industry is just a fraction of what it was in the 1970s and 1980s when the country ranked among the ten leading gold and copper producers worldwide. Low metal prices, high production costs, and lack of investment in infrastructure have contributed to the industry's overall decline. A December 2004 Supreme Court decision upheld the constitutionality of the 1995 Mining Act, thereby allowing up to 100% foreign-owned companies to invest in large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, oil, and gas.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

In its foreign policy, the Philippines cultivates constructive relations with its Asian neighbors, with whom it is linked through membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. The Philippines is a member of the UN and some of its specialized agencies, and served a two-year term as a member of the UN Security Council from January 2004-2006, acting as UNSC President in September 2005. Since 1992, the Philippines has been a member of the Non-Aligned Movement. The government is seeking observer status in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The Philippines has played a key role in ASEAN in recent years and also values its relations with the countries of the Middle East, in no small part because hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are employed in that region. The welfare of the some four to five million overseas Filipino contract workers is considered to be a pillar of Philippine foreign policy. Foreign exchange remittances from these workers exceed 11% of the country's gross domestic product.

The fundamental Philippine attachment to democracy and human rights is also reflected in its foreign policy. Philippine soldiers and police have participated in a number of multilateral civilian police and peacekeeping operations, and a Philippine Army general served as the first commander of the UN Peacekeeping Operation in East Timor. The Philippines presently has peacekeepers in Haiti and Liberia. The Philippines also participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom, deploying some 50 troops to Iraq in 2003. (These troops were subsequently withdrawn in 2004 after a Filipino overseas worker was kidnapped.) The Philippine Government also has been active in efforts to reduce tensions among rival claimants to the territories and waters of the resource-rich South China Sea.

U.S.-PHILIPPINE RELATIONS

U.S.-Philippine relations are based on shared history and commitment to democratic principles, as well as on economic ties. The historical and cultural links between the Philippines and the U.S. remain strong. The Philippines modeled its governmental institutions on those of the U.S. and continues to share a commitment to democracy and human rights. At the most fundamental level of bilateral relations, human links continue to form a strong bridge between the two countries. There are an estimated four million Americans of Philippine ancestry in the United States, and more than 250,000 American citizens in the Philippines.

Until November 1992, pursuant to the 1947 Military Bases Agreement, the United States maintained and operated major facilities at Clark Air Base, Subic Bay Naval Complex, and several small subsidiary installations in the Philippines. In August 1991, negotiators from the two countries reached agreement on a draft treaty providing for use of Subic Bay Naval Base by U.S. forces for 10 years. The draft treaty did not include use of Clark Air Base, which had been so heavily damaged by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo that the U.S. decided to abandon it.

In September 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the bases treaty, and despite further efforts to salvage the situation, the two sides could not reach an agreement. As a result, the Philippine Government informed the U.S. on December 6, 1991, that it would have one year to complete withdrawal. That withdrawal went smoothly and was completed ahead of schedule, with the last U.S. forces departing on November 24, 1992. On departure, the U.S. Government turned over assets worth more than $1.3 billion to the Philippines, including an airport and ship-repair facility. Agencies formed by the Philippine Government have converted the former military bases for civilian commercial use, with Subic Bay serving as a flagship for that effort. The post-U.S. bases era has seen U.S.-Philippine relations improved and broadened, with a prominent focus on economic and commercial ties while maintaining the importance of the security dimension. U.S. investment continues to play an important role in the Philippine economy, while a strong security relationship rests on the 1952 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). In February 1998, U.S. and Philippine negotiators concluded the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), paving the way for increased military cooperation under the MDT. The agreement was approved by the Philippine Senate in May 1999 and entered into force on June 1, 1999. Under the VFA, the U.S. has conducted ship visits to Philippine ports and has resumed large combined military exercises with Philippine forces. Key events in the bilateral relationship include the July 4, 1996 declaration by President Ramos of Philippine-American Friendship Day in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Philippine independence. Ramos visited the U.S. in April 1998, and then-President Estrada visited in July 2000. President Arroyo met with President Bush in an official working visit in November 2001 and made a state visit in Washington on May 19, 2003. President Bush made a state visit to the Philippines on October 18, 2003, during which he addressed a joint session of the Philippine Congress—the first American President to do so since Dwight D. Eisenhower. There are regular U.S. cabinet-level and congressional visits to the Philippines as well.

President Arroyo has repeatedly stressed the close friendship between the Philippines and the U.S. and her desire to expand bilateral ties further. Both governments seek to revitalize and strengthen their partnership by working toward greater security, prosperity, and service to Filipinos and Americans alike. Inaugurated into office on the same day as President Bush, President Arroyo lent strong support to the global war on terrorism. In October 2003, the U.S. designated the Philippines as a Major Non-NATO Ally. That same month, the Philippines joined the select group of countries to have ratified all 12 UN counterterrorism conventions.

The annual Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) bilateral military exercises contribute directly to the Philippine armed forces' efforts to root out Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists and bring development to formerly terrorist-plagued areas, notably Basilan and Jolo. They include not only combined military training but also civil-military affairs and humanitarian projects. The International Military Education and Training (IMET) program is the largest in the Pacific and the third-largest in the world, and a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) was signed in November 2002. Similarly, law enforcement cooperation has reached new levels: U.S. and Philippine agencies have cooperated to bring charges against numerous terrorists, to implement the countries' extradition treaty, and to train thousands of Filipino law enforcement officers. There is a Senior Law Enforcement Advisor helping the Philippine National Police with its Transformation Program.

The U.S. is also working closely with the Philippines to reduce poverty and increase prosperity. The U.S. fully supports Philippine efforts to root out corruption, to open economic opportunity, and to invest in health and education. USAID programs support the ‘Philippines’ war on poverty as well as the government's reform agenda in critical areas, including anti-money laundering, rule of law, tax collection, and trade and investment. Other USAID programs have bolstered the government's efforts to heal divisions in Philippine society through a focus on conflict resolution, livelihood enhancement for former combatants, and economic development in Mind-anao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, among the poorest areas in the country. Meanwhile, important programs continue in modern family planning, infectious disease control, environmental protection, rural electrification, and provision of basic services—as well as PL 480 food aid programs and others, which together totaled $211.3 million. In 2006, the Millennium Challenge Corporation granted $21 million to the Philippines for a threshold program addressing corruption in revenue administration.

Nearly 400,000 Americans visit the Philippines each year. Providing government services to U.S. and other ‘citizens, therefore, constitutes an important aspect of the bilateral relationship. Those services include veterans’ affairs, social security, and consular operations. Benefits to Filipinos from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration totaled $297,389,415 in 2006. Many people-to-people programs exist between the U.S. and the Philippines, including Fulbright, International Visitors, and Aquino Fellowship exchange programs, as well as the U.S. Peace Corps.

Trade and Investment

Two-way U.S. merchandise trade with the Philippines amounted to $17.3 billion in 2006 (U.S. Department of Commerce data). According to Philippine Government data, 16% of the Philippines' imports in 2006 came from the U.S., and about 18% of its exports were bound for America. The Philippines ranks as our 26th-largest export market and our 30th-largest supplier. Key exports to the U.S. are semiconductor devices and computer peripherals, automobile parts, electric machinery, textiles and garments, wheat and animal feeds, and coconut oil. In addition to other goods, the Philippines imports raw and semi-processed materials for the manufacture of semiconductors, electronics and electrical machinery, transport equipment, and cereals and cereal preparations.

The U.S. traditionally has been the Philippines' largest foreign investor, with about $6.6 billion in estimated investment as of end-2005 (U.S. Department of Commerce data). Since the late 1980s, the Philippines has committed itself to reforms that encourage foreign investment as a basis for economic development, subject to certain guidelines and restrictions in specified areas. Under President Ramos, the Philippines expanded reforms, opening the power generation and telecommunications sectors to foreign investment, as well as securing ratification of the Uruguay Round agreement and membership in the World Trade Organization. As noted earlier, President Arroyo's administration has generally continued such reforms despite opposition from vested interests and “nationalist”blocs. A major obstacle has been and will continue to be constitutional restrictions on, among others, foreign ownership of land and public utilities, which limits maximum ownership to 40%.

Over the last two decades, the relatively closed Philippine economy has been opened significantly by foreign exchange deregulation, foreign investment and banking liberalization, tariff and market barrier reduction, and foreign entry into the retail trade sector. The Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 opened opportunities for U.S. firms to participate in the power industry in the Philippines. Information and communications technologies, backroom operations such as call centers, and regional facilities or shared-service centers are likewise leading investment opportunities.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

MANILA (E) 1201 Roxas Road, P.O. Box 151, Manila, APO/FPO PSC 500, APO, AP 96515-1000, 632-301-2000, Fax 63-2-301-2399, Workweek: Monday-Friday, 7:30am-4:30pm, Website: http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Victoria Q. Spiers
AMB OMS:Nelia G. Adanza
COM/ADB:Kenneth Reidbord
DHS/CIS:John P. Abram
DHS/ICE:Frank J. Cabaddu
ECO:Larry L. Memmott
FCS:Judy R. Reinke
FM:Michael D. Berryman
HRO:Graham L. Webster
IBB:Terence J. Donovan
MGT:Catherine I. Ebert-Gray
US ALT EXECDIR: Paul W. Curry
US EXEC DIR:Curtis S. Chin
AMB:Kristie A. Kenney
CG:Richard D. Haynes
DCM:Paul W. Jones
PAO:M. Lee McClenny
GSO:Scott D. McDonald
RSO:Jacob M. Wohlman
AFSA:William H. Syll
AGR:Emiko Purdy
AID:Jon D. Lindborg
APHIS:Jeffrey G. Willnow
ATO:Dennis B. Voboril
CLO:Josette L. Knapp
DAO:Bruce A. West
DEA:Timothy C. Teal
EEO:Linda E. Daetwyler
FAA:Scottie R. Laird
FMO:Vivian M. Lesh
ICASS:Chair Mathias R. Velasco
IMO:Roger W. Johnson
IPO:Theodore F. Culp, Jr.
ISO:Bradley L. Summers
ISSO:Patrick T. Tran
LAB:Mario A. Fernandez
LEGATT:Stephen P. Cutler
POL:Thomas B. Gibbons
RAMC:John C. Bedwell

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

January 17, 2008

Country Description: The Philippines is a developing nation with a democratic system of government, located in Southeast Asia. The archipelago consists of more than 7,000 islands, of which over 800 are inhabited. The major island groupings are Luzon in the north, the Visayas in the center, and Mindanao in the south. Tourist facilities are available within population centers and the main tourist areas. English is widely spoken in the Philippines, and most signs are in English.

Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens may enter the Philippines without a visa upon presentation of their U.S. passport, valid for at least six months after the date of entry into the Philippines, and a return ticket to the United States or an onward ticket to another country. Upon arrival immigration authorities will annotate your passport with an entry visa valid for 21 days. If you plan to stay longer than 21 days you must apply for an extension at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation's main office at Magallanes Drive; Intramuros, Manila, Philippines, or at any of its provincial offices (http://www.immigration.gov.ph).

Persons who overstay their visas are subject to fines and detention by Philippine immigration authorities. American citizens are urged to remain aware of their visa status while in the Philippines and to strictly follow immigration laws and regulations. Travelers departing the country from international airports must pay a Passenger Service Charge in Philippine Pesos. For further information on entry/exit requirements, please contact the Embassy of the Philippines at: 1600 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20036 (telephone: (202) 467-9300), or one of the Philippine consulates in the United States (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco) or via the Internet at http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org.

Special requirements exist for the entry of unaccompanied minors. In an effort to prevent international child abduction, the Philippine government requires that a waiver of exclusion be obtained from a Philippine Embassy or Consulate or from the Bureau of Immigration and Detention in Manila for a child under 15 years of age who plans to enter the Philippines unaccompanied by either a parent or legal guardian prior to the child's entry into the Philippines.

Safety and Security: The Department urges Americans contemplating travel to the Philippines to carefully consider the risks to their safety and security, including those due to terrorism. While travelers may encounter such threats anywhere in the Philippines, the southern island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are of particular concern. Travelers should exercise extreme caution in both central and western Mindanao as well as in the Sulu Archipelago.

Kidnap-for-ransom gangs operate in the Philippines. In January 2007, one such gang abducted two U.S. citizen children outside their home in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte, in Mindanao. The New People's Army (NPA), another terrorist organization, operates in many rural areas of the Philippines, including in the northern island of Luzon. While it has not targeted westerners in several years, the NPA could threaten U.S. citizens with extortion methods, especially those citizens engaged in business or property management activities.

Terrorist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Jema'ah Islamiyah, and groups that have broken away from the more mainstream Moro Islamic Liberation Front or Moro National Liberation Front, have carried out bombings resulting in deaths, injuries and property damage. Recent incidents have occurred in urbanized areas in Mindanao. On January 10, 2007, separate bombings in the cities of Kidapawan, Cotabato and General Santos killed seven people and injured 41. Manila is not immune to bombing activities; as recently as August 2, 2007, two improvised explosive devices were planted in the Taguig and Mandaluy-ong areas of greater Manila. While both devices failed to detonate, these incidents highlight that the entire country is at risk from these groups. While these incidents do not appear to have targeted Westerners or Western interests, travelers should remain vigilant and avoid congregating in public areas.

Many people who reside in or visit areas that face terrorist threats, such as in Mindanao, travel with their own security force, avoid an obvious presence, or both. In some areas of the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, visitors should avoid travel at night outside metropolitan areas. U.S. Government employees must seek special permission for travel to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago. When traveling in Mindanao, U.S. official travelers attempt to lower their profile, limit their length of stay, and exercise extreme caution.

Americans residing or traveling in the Philippines should also always remain aware of their surroundings, listen to news reports, and ensure that travel documents are current. The Department strongly encourages Americans in the Philippines to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila through the State Department's travel registration web site at https://travelregistration.state.gov. The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. 63-2-528-6300. The Consular American Citizen Services (ACS) section's fax number is 63-2-522-3242 and the ACS web page is at http://manila.usembassy.gov.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs' web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers out-side the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: As in many of the major metropolitan areas in the United States, crime is a serious concern in Metro Manila. As a rule of thumb, Americans should exercise good judgment and remain aware of their surroundings. Reports of confidence games, pick pocketing, and credit card fraud are common. Be wary of unknown individuals who attempt to befriend you, especially just after you have arrived in country. A number of recent robberies and assaults involving the “date rape drug” (known locally as Ativan) have occurred; the drug is generally administered to unwitting male and female visitors via food or drink. It is best not to accept food, drink, or rides in private vehicles from strangers, even if they appear legitimate. There have been several kidnappings and violent assaults of foreigners in the Metro Manila area. There have also been reports of gunmen robbing foreign passengers in vehicles traveling to and from the international airport.

Taxis are the recommended form of public transportation. However, the following safeguards are important: do not enter a taxi if it has already accepted another passenger; and, request that the meter be used. If the driver is unwilling to comply with your requests, it is best to wait for another cab. It is also a good idea to make a mental note of the license plate number should there be a problem. When driving in the city, make certain that the doors are locked and the windows rolled up. All other forms of public transportation, such as the light rail system, buses, and “jeepneys” should be avoided for both safety and security reasons.

Visitors should also be vigilant when using credit cards. One common form of credit card fraud involves the illicit use of an electronic device to retrieve and record information, including the PIN, from the card's magnetic strip. The information is then used to make unauthorized purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this scam, never let your card out of your sight.

A continuing problem is the commercial scam or sting that attempts to sell or to seek negotiation of fraudulent U.S. securities. Visitors and residents should be wary when presented with supposed Federal Reserve Notes or U.S. securities for sale or negotiation. For further information, consult the Federal Reserve System's Web site.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/ or fines. More information on this serious problem is available at http://www.cybercrime.gov/18usc2320.htm.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistan

The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

The Philippines has a victim compensation program to provide financial compensation to victims of violent or personal crime and of unjust imprisonment. Information may be obtained from the Philippine Department of Justice at 011-632-536-0447 or via the Internet at http://www.doj.gov.ph.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Adequate medical care is available in major cities in the Philippines, but even the best hospitals may not meet the standards of medical care, sanitation, and facilities provided by hospitals in the United States. Medical care is limited in rural and more remote areas.

Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost several or even tens of thousands of dollars. Most hospitals will require a down payment of estimated fees in cash at the time of admission. In some cases, public and private hospitals have withheld lifesaving medicines and treatments for nonpayment of bills. Hospitals also frequently refuse to discharge patients or release important medical documents until the bill has been paid in full.A list of doctors and medical facilities in the Philippines is available on the web page of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC' web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Philippines is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Travel within the Philippine archipelago is possible by boat, plane, bus, or car. Few tourists rent cars to drive, as the road system is crowded and drivers are undisciplined. Driving off the national highways and paved roads is particularly dangerous, especially at night, and should be avoided. To avoid overcrowded or unsafe transport, exercise caution in planning travel by older, inter-island ferryboats, or other public conveyances.

For specific information concerning Philippine driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. at tel. (202) 467-9300 or one of the Philippine consulates in the United State (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco) or via the Internet at http://www.philip-pineembassy-usa.org. Please see also related information from the Philippine Department of Tourism at http://www.tourism.gov.ph and http://www.dotpcvc.gov.ph

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Philippine's Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the Philippine's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Marriage in the Philippines: The Philippine Government requires foreigners who wish to marry in the Philippines to obtain from the U.S. Embassy a “Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” before filing an application for a marriage license. Because there is no national register of marriages in the United States, the U.S. Embassy cannot provide such a certification. As a result, the Philippine Government will accept an “Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” in its place. Americans may execute this affidavit at the U.S. Embassy in Manila Monday-Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., except for Philippine or American holidays. The American must present his/her U.S. passport. There is a fee of $30.00 or its peso equivalent for the affidavit. Philippine authorities will not accept any substitute document issued in the United States. Before traveling to the Philippines to be married, U.S. military personnel should contact their personnel office regarding Department of Defense joint service regulations.

Execution of the affidavit by a U.S. consular officer is a notarial act and the consular officer is authorized by U.S. law to refuse to perform the service if the document will be used for a purpose patently unlawful, improper, or inimical to the best interests of the United States. Entering into a marriage contract for the principal purpose of facilitating immigration to the United States for an alien is an unlawful act, and the U.S. Code provides penalties for individuals who commit perjury in an affidavit taken by a consular officer.

Relationship fraud is a persistent problem in the Philippines, and it is not uncommon for Filipinos to enter into marriages with Americans solely for immigration purposes. Relationships developed via correspondence, particularly those begun on the Internet, are particularly susceptible to manipulation.

The Marriage Application Process: Once an American citizen has obtained from the U.S. Embassy an “Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage,” he/she may file an application for a marriage license at the office of the Philippine Civil Registrar in the town or city where one of the parties is a resident. The U.S. citizen applicant must present: (a) the affidavit; (b) divorce decree(s) or death certificate(s), if applicable (required to verify civil status and legal capacity to contract marriage); (c) his/her U.S. passport; and (d) documentation regarding parental consent or advice, if applicable. (Persons aged 18 to 21 must have written parental consent to marry in the Philippines; those aged 22 to 24 must have received parental advice. Philippine law prohibits marriage for persons under the age of 18.) A judge, a minister, or other person authorized by the Philippine Government can perform the marriage.

Marriage to a U.S. citizen confers neither citizenship nor an automatic eligibility for entry to the United States. A foreign spouse requires an immigrant visa to live in the United States. Questions about filing a petition to bring a foreign spouse to the United States may be directed to the nearest U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service office, to the U.S. Department of State's Visa Office (telephone: (202) 663-1225) or, while in the Philippines, to the U.S. Embassy's Immigrant Visa Unit at http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

Disaster Preparedness: The Philippines is a volcano-, typhoon-and earthquake-prone country. From May to December, typhoons and flash floods often occur. Flooding can cause road delays and cut off bridges. Typhoons in the vicinity of the Philippines can interrupt air and sea links within the country. Updated information on typhoons is available at the following web sites: http://metocph.nmci.navy.mil; http://www.pagasa.com and http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph. Volcanic activity is frequent, and periodically the Philippine Government announces alerts for specific volcanoes. Updated information on volcanoes in the Philippines is available at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov. Earthquakes can also occur throughout the country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the Philippines National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) at http://ndcc.gov.ph/ndcc/ and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.

Customs Regulations: Philippine customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from the Philippines of items such as firearms and currency. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, DC or one of the Philippine consulates in the United States (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco) for specific information regarding customs requirements. Counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available in the Philippines; transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/ or fines.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the Philippine's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Philippines are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Under the Protect Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to travel to a foreign country to engage in criminal sexual activity or to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country. It is important to note that under the new legislation, the act of illicit sexual conduct is sufficient to violate the law—the intent to travel for the purpose of engaging in the criminal sexual activity does not need to be proven. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct means: (1) a sexual act with a person under 18 years of age that would be illegal in the United States or (2) any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18.

The Philippine Bureau of Immigration arrests several Americans each year on immigration charges of “undesirability,” sometimes based solely on complaints arising from personal or business disputes in the Philippines. Frequently, these detainees cannot be deported and/or released from custody until substantial fines are paid and any underlying criminal charges are resolved—a process that sometimes takes months, or even years.

Fraud, swindling, “bad debts,” and failure to provide spousal and child support are also serious criminal offenses in the Philippines, as is the illegal recruitment of Philippine citizens for employment overseas. Several Americans are currently serving lengthy prison sentences for illegal recruitment activities. The Philippine Government also has strict laws against the possession of firearms, and several foreigners have been sentenced to life imprisonment for bringing firearms into the country. Americans who are arrested overseas should immediately ask to contact a U.S. Embassy representative.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in the Philippines are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within the Philippines. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. (63) (2) 301-2000. The American Citizen Services (ACS) section's fax number is (63) (2) 522-3242 and the ACS web page is at http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

International Adoption

January 2007

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: The adoption of relatives is common in Philippine culture. This may result in a desire to adopt a child whose parents are both still alive. In most cases, that child would technically not be an orphan under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. If the adoptive child does not qualify as an orphan as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, the adoptive parents will be required to demonstrate that they had legal custody of the child for at least two years AND resided with the child for at least two years during which time they exercised primary parental control.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: The main government authorities responsible for domestic adoptions in the Philippines are the Regional Trial Courts where adopting parents can file adoption petitions. These courts work closely with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to investigate and process adoption cases. For intercountry adoptions, the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) also works with the DSWD and foreign adoption agencies to ensure that children and adopting parents are qualified.

The Inter-Country Adoption Board
P.O. Box 1622
#2 Chicago corner Ermin Garcia
Streets
Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines
Tel: (632) 721-9781/82; (632) 726-4551/68
Fax: (632) 727-2026
E-mail: [email protected]
Internet: www.skyinet.net/~icaba/

Eligibility Requirements: Under Article III, Sec. 9 of the Philippines' Intercountry Adoptions Act of 1995 or Republic Act No. 8043: A U.S. citizen permanently residing outside the Philippines may file an application for inter-country adoption of a Filipino child if he/she:

  • Is at least twenty seven (27) years of age;
  • Is at least sixteen (16) years older than the child to be adopted at the time of application unless the adopter is the parent by nature of the child to be adopted or the spouse of such parent;
  • If married, his/her spouse must jointly file for the adoption;
  • Has the capacity to act and assume all rights and responsibilities of parental authority under his national laws and has undergone the appropriate counseling from an accredited counselor in his/her country;
  • Has not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude;
  • Is eligible to adopt under his/her state/federal law;
  • Is in a position to provide proper care and support and to give necessary moral values and example to all his children, including the child to be adopted;
  • Agrees to uphold the basic rights of the child as embodied under Philippine laws, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to abide by the rules and regulations issued to implement the provisions of this Act;
  • Possesses all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications provided herein and in other applicable Philippine laws.

Residency Requirements: U.S. citizens interested in adopting a Filipino child while they are living in the Philippines must be residents of the Philippines for at least three years prior to the filing of the adoption petition and maintain such residence until the adoption is finalized. Prospective adopting parents who meet these requirements should file a petition for adoption with the Philippine Court to begin the adoption process. This process is completed when the Philippine court issues the Certificate of Finality for Adoption. U.S. citizens not meeting these residency requirements will have to adopt through the ICAB procedures outlined in the section below.

Time Frame: Adoption processing depends upon many variables, including the availability of children to be matched with prospective adoptive parents, the number of prospective adoptive parents on the waiting list, and the caseload of social service agencies and the courts.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Information about accredited Foreign Adoption Agencies (FAAs) licensed to work in the Philippines is available on the ICAB website, at http://www.skyinet.net/~icaba/page10.html, or by request from the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Neither the Embassy nor the U.S. Department of State assumes any responsibility for the quality of services provided by these private adoption agencies or their employees.

Fees: Fees can vary widely depending upon the adoption agency used.

Adoption Procedures: To start the Philippine adoption process, prospective adoptive parents or their accredited FAA must contact the Philippine Inter-country Adoption Board (ICAB).

The prospective adoptive parents (prospective adoptive parents) shall file an application with the ICAB through a United States adoption agency. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should endorse to the ICAB a child who has been previously committed to the Philippine government. A child is “committed” by way of the “Deed of Voluntary Commitment,” a document used by DSWD asking for the biological mother and/or biological parents' signature prior to matching the child with a prospective adoptive parent. The document is essentially the parent/s' consent releasing the child to DSWD for subsequent adoption. In the event that the child is abandoned or neglected and no parent is available to sign the “Deed of Voluntary Commitment,” DSWD instead obtains a commitment order from the court. This endorsement certifies that inter-country adoption is in the best interests of the child.

The Inter-Country Adoption Placement Committee matches the child with a person or couple interested in adopting and refers its proposal to ICAB for approval. If the match is approved, the concerned adoption agency in the United States shall be sent a notice of matching proposal. The prospective adoptive parents shall notify the adoption agency in the United States of his/her decision within 15 days of receipt of the matching proposal. Note: The Philippine Inter-Country Adoption Act prohibits contact between the prospective adoptive parents and child's parents /guardians or custodians.

The ICAB shall issue the Placement Authority within five working days upon receipt of the prospective adoptive parents' acceptance of the matching proposal.The child appears at the Embassy for his/her immigrant visa interview. The adoptive parents must escort the child from the Philippines to the United States.

Upon assuming custody of the child, the adoptive parents enter a six-month trial period where the accredited adoption agency in the United States monitors the child's welfare. After completion of the trial custody period, the adoptive parent should file a petition for adoption before the court in the United States. The final U.S. adoption decree should be submitted to ICAB within a month after its issuance.

Documentary Requirements: The following documents, which must be written and officially translated into English, shall accompany the prospective adoptive parents' application for adoption.

  • Family and Home Study Reports on the family and home of the prospective adoptive parents (prospective adoptive parents);
  • Birth Certificates of the prospective adoptive parents;
  • Marriage certificate of the prospective adoptive parents or Decree of Absolute divorce, if applicable;
  • Written consent of the prospective adoptive parents biological or adopted children who are ten years of age or over witnessed by the social worker after proper counseling;
  • Physical and medical evaluation by a duly licensed physician and psychological evaluation by a psychologist;
  • Latest income tax return or any other documents showing financial capability of the prospective adoptive parents;
  • Clearance issued by the police of other proper government agency of the place where the prospective adoptive parents reside;
  • Character reference from the local church minister/priest, the prospective adoptive parents employer or a non-relative member of the immediate community who have known the prospective adoptive parents for at least five (5) years;
  • Certification from the U.S. Department of Justice or other appropriate government agency that the prospective adoptive parents are qualified to adopt under their national law and that the child to be adopted is allowed to enter the country for trial custody and reside permanently in the said place once adopted; and
  • Recent postcard-size pictures of the prospective adoptive parents and immediate family.

Embassy of the Republic of the
Philippines, Washington, D.C.

1600 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel—(202) 467-9300
Fax: (202) 467-9417
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.philippineembassy-usa.org

The Philippines also has consulates in Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Embassy of the United States of
America, Manila, Philippines

1201 Roxas Blvd.
Ermita, Metro Manila—1000
Tel: (632) 528-6300

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in the Philippines may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

International Parental Child Abduction

February 2008

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General Information: The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the Philippines and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. Therefore, there is no treaty remedy by which the left behind parent would be able to pursue recovery of the child or children should they be abducted to or wrongfully retained in the Philippines. Once in the Philippines, the child or children would be completely subject to Philippine law for all matters including custody.

The United States is not a party to any treaty or convention on the enforcement of court orders. A custody decree issued by a court in the U.S. has no binding legal force abroad, although it may have a persuasive force in some countries. Furthermore, a U.S. custody decree may be considered by foreign courts and authorities as evidence and, in some cases, foreign courts may voluntarily recognize and enforce it on the basis of comity (the voluntary recognition by courts of one jurisdiction of the laws and judicial decisions of another).

Custody Disputes: Parental child abduction is not a crime under Philippine law. Custody disputes are considered civil legal matters that must be resolved between the concerned parties or through the courts in the Philippines. Philippine authorities advise the American Embassy that generally the Philippine courts will give custody of children under the age of seven to the mother, provided there is no evidence that would indicate that the mother is unfit to raise the child. Although there is no treaty in force between the United States and the Philippines on enforcement of judgments, the Philippine courts will also take into consideration child custody decrees issued by foreign courts in deciding disputes regarding children residing in the Philippines.

The Department of Justice in the Philippines states that, in general, redress in child custody cases is sought through habeas corpus orders/ proceedings in court. These orders can be obtained on an expedited basis and direct law enforcement to locate and take a child into custody for the purposes of an emergency hearing. Ideally, these orders and proceedings ensure due process under the local laws as well as providing protection for the child or children. In order to bring a custody issue before the Domestic Relations/Family Court, the left-behind parent will require the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in the Philippines. A parent holding a custody decree issued in U.S. courts must therefore retain local counsel in the Philippines to apply to the Philippine courts for recognition and enforcement of the U.S. decree, or to invoke the writ of habeas corpus. Although visitation rights for non-custodial parents are not expressly stipulated in the Philippine Civil Code, court judgments often provide visitation rights for non-custodial parents. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Deportation: While there is an extradition treaty between the United States and the Philippines, parental child abduction is not an extraditable offense. However, if the taking parent is a U.S. citizen whose U.S. passport has been revoked due to an outstanding federal Unlawful Flight to avoid Prosecution (UFAP) warrant or indictment on charges of International Parental Kidnapping (IPKCA), Philippine authorities may consider deportation based on lack of a valid travel document.

Dual Nationality: A child with a parent who was born outside of the U.S. or who has acquired a second nationality through naturalization in another country may have a claim to citizenship in that country. There is no requirement that a U.S. citizen parent consent to the acquisition by his/her child of another nationality and in many cases a parent is unaware that his/her child may have dual citizenship. The Embassy of the Philippines in Washington D.C. will be able to provide more detailed information on whether your child has a claim.

Initiating Foreign Enforcement Proceedings Under Local Law: If a country is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, it may be necessary for you to initiate a child custody action in the courts in the foreign country. This usually will require retaining the services of an attorney abroad. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Retaining a Foreign Attorney: A list of English speaking attorneys is available from the U.S. State Department Office of American Citizens Services. See also the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory available in law libraries. It may be helpful to provide your foreign attorney with copies of any state laws concerning child custody orders and their enforcement in the U.S.

Legal Aid: Some countries provide legal aid services in child custody cases. The legal attache or consular section of the foreign embassy in Washington, D.C. may have specific guidance. Legal aid information may also be available from a local branch of the International Social Service. The ISS' headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland, but information or assistance may be available through its New York branch at 10 W. 40th Street, New York, N.Y. 10018, Tel. No.: 212-532-6350. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children maintains a list of attorneys interested in Hague Convention and International Child Custody cases.

Criminal Remedies: The Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs works with US prosecuting attorneys, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and with Interpol (an international police agency) in a joint cooperative effort to return persons charged with US crimes from foreign countries. Extradition of the abducting adult may not result in the return of the child. Foreign countries may refuse to extradite a person to the US if that person is also a citizen of the foreign country. Foreign countries may not recognize parental abduction as a crime. Please note that the extradition process applies only to the abducting adult/ fugitive and not the child. The proper channel for the return of the child is through civil mechanisms or voluntary return arrangements. Additional information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org.

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State at 1-888-407-4747 or visit its web site on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/family. You may also direct inquiries to: Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-4811; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

Travel Warning

April 27, 2007

This Travel Warning updates information on the security situation and reminds Americans of the risks of travel in the Philippines. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for the Philippines issued June 16, 2006.

U.S. citizens contemplating travel to the Philippines should carefully consider the risks to their safety and security while there, including those due to terrorism. While travelers may encounter such threats anywhere in the Philippines, the southern island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are of particular concern. Travelers should exercise extreme caution in both central and western Mindanao as well as in the Sulu Archipelago.

Kidnap for ransom gangs operate in the Philippines. In January 2007, one such gang abducted two U.S. citizen children outside their home in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte, in Mindanao. The New People's Army (NPA), another terrorist organization, operates in many rural areas of the Philippines, including in the northern island of Luzon. While it has not targeted westerners in several years, the NPA could threaten U.S. citizens engaged in business or property management activities, and it often demands “revolutionary taxes.”

Terrorist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Jema'ah Islamiyah, and groups that have broken away from the more mainstream Moro Islamic Liberation Front or Moro National Liberation Front have carried out bombings resulting in deaths, injuries and property damage. Recent incidents have occurred in urbanized areas in Mindanao. On January 10, 2007, separate bombings in the cities of Kidapawan, Cotabato and General Santos killed seven people and injured 41. While these incidents do not appear to have targeted Westerners or Western interests, travelers should remain vigilant and avoid congregating in public areas.

Many people who reside in or visit areas that face terrorist threats, such as in Mindanao, travel with their own security force, avoid an obvious presence, or both. In some areas of the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, visitors should avoid travel at night outside metropolitan areas. U.S. Government employees must seek special permission for travel to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago. When traveling in Mindanao, U.S. official travelers attempt to lower their profile, limit their length of stay, and exercise extreme caution.

The Department strongly encourages Americans in the Philippines to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov. The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. 63-2-528-6300. The Consular American Citizen Services (ACS) section's fax number is 63-2-522-3242 and the ACS web page is at http://usem-bassy.state.gov/posts/rpl/wwwh-main.html.

Americans can obtain information on travel and security in the Philippines from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States; or 202-501-4444 abroad.

For information on general crime and security issues, U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for the Philippines and the World-wide Caution Travel Alert, located at http://travel.state.gov/ to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Philippines.

views updated

Philippines

Compiled from the October 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of the Philippines

PROFILE

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-PHILIPPINE RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 300,000 sq. km. (117,187 sq. mi.).

Cities: (2005 estimate) Capital—Manila (pop. 11.29 million in metropolitan area); other cities—Davao City (1.33 million); Cebu City (0.82 million).

Terrain: Islands, 65% mountainous, with narrow coastal lowlands.

Climate: Tropical, astride typhoon belt.

People

Nationality: Noun—Filipino(s). Adjective—Philippine.

Population: (2005 estimate) 85.24 million; estimate for 2004: 83.9 million.

Annual growth rate: 2.05%.

Ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese.

Religions: Catholic 85%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 5%, Buddhist and other 1%.

Languages: Pilipino (based on Tagalog), national language; English, language of government and instruction in education.

Education: Years compulsory—6 (note: 6 years of primary education free and compulsory; 4 years of secondary education free but not compulsory). Attendance—94% in elementary grades, 64% in secondary grades. Literacy—93.4%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2003)—29 per 1,000. Life expectancy (2005)—64.10 yrs. for males; 70.10 yrs. for females.

Work force: (2005) 32.3 million.

Services: (including commerce and government, 2005)—48%; agriculture—20%; industry—36%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: 1946.

Constitution: February 11, 1987.

Government branches: Executive—president and vice president. Legislative—bicameral legislature. Judicial—independent.

Political subdivisions: 15 regions and Metro Manila (National Capital Region), 79 provinces, 115 cities.

Political parties: Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Liberal Party, Aksiyon Demokratiko, Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, and other small parties.

Suffrage: Universal, but not compulsory, at age 18.

Economy

GDP: (2005) $87.63 billion.

Annual GDP growth rate: (2005) 5.5% at constant prices

GDP per capita: (2005) $1024.

Natural resources: Copper, nickel, iron, cobalt, silver, gold.

Agriculture: Products—rice, coconut products, sugar, corn, pork, bananas, pineapple products, aquaculture, mangoes, eggs.

Industry: Types—textiles and garments, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wood products, food processing, electronics assembly, petroleum refining, fishing.

Trade: (2005) Exports—$41.3 billion. Imports—$47.4 billion.

PEOPLE

The majority of Philippine people are of Malay stock, descendants of Indonesians and Malays who migrated to the islands long before the Christian era. The most significant ethnic minority group is the Chinese, who have played an important role in commerce since the ninth century, when they first came to the islands to trade. As a result of intermarriage, many Filipinos have some Chinese and Spanish ancestry. Americans and Spaniards constitute the next largest alien minorities in the country.

More than 90% of the people are Christian; most were converted and became Westernized to varying degrees during nearly 400 years of Spanish and American rule. The major non-Hispanicized groups are the Muslim population, concentrated in the Sulu Archipelago and in central and western Mindanao, and the mountain groups of northern Luzon. Small forest tribes still live in the more remote areas of Mindanao.

About 87 native languages and dialects are spoken, all belonging to the Malay-Polynesian linguistic family. Of these, eight are the first languages of more than 85% of the population. The three principal indigenous languages are Cebuano, spoken in the Visayas; Tagalog, predominant in the area around Manila; and Ilocano, spoken in northern Luzon. Since 1939, in an effort to develop national unity, the government has promoted the use of the national language, Pilipino, which is based on Tagalog. Pilipino is taught in all schools and is gaining acceptance, particularly as a second language. Many use English, the most important nonnative language, as a second language, including nearly all professionals, academics, and government workers. In January 2003, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered the Department of Education to restore English as the medium of instruction in all schools and universities. Only a few Filipino families use Spanish as a first language.

The Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in the East Asian and Pacific area. About 92% of the population 10 years of age and older are literate.

HISTORY

The history of the Philippines can be divided into four distinct phases: the pre-Spanish period (before 1521); the Spanish period (1521-1898); the American period (1898-1946); and the years since independence (1946-present).

Pre-Spanish Period

The first people in the Philippines, the Negritos, are believed to have come to the islands 30,000 years ago from Borneo and Sumatra, making their way across then-existing land bridges. Subsequently, people of Malay stock came from the south in successive waves, the earliest by land bridges and later in boats called barangays. The Malays settled in scattered communities, which were named barangays after the boats, and which were ruled by chieftains known as datus. Chinese merchants and traders arrived and settled in the ninth century A.D. In the 14th century, Arabs arrived, introducing Islam in the south and extending some influence even into Luzon. The Malays, however, remained the dominant group until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.

Spanish Period

Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines and claimed it for Spain in 1521, and for the next 377 years, the islands were under Spanish rule. This period was the era of conversion to Roman Catholicism. A Spanish colonial social system was developed with a government centered on Manila and with considerable clerical influence. Spanish influence was strongest in Luzon and the Central Philippines. It was less strong in Mindanao, save for certain coastal cities.

The long period of Spanish rule was marked by numerous uprisings. Towards the latter half of the 19th century, western-educated Filipinos or “ilustrados” such as national hero Jose Rizal began to criticize the excesses of Spanish rule and instilled a new sense of national identity. This movement gave inspiration to the final revolt against Spain which began in 1896 under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo and continued until the Americans defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.

American Period

Following Admiral Dewey’s defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, the United States occupied the Philippines. Spain ceded the islands to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (December 10, 1898) that ended the war.

A war of resistance against U.S. rule, led by Revolutionary President Aguinaldo, broke out in 1899. This conflict claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Filipinos and thousands of Americans. Although Americans have historically used the term “the Philippine Insurrection,” Filipinos and an increasing number of American historians refer to these hostilities as the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), and in 1999 the U.S. Library of Congress reclassified its references to use this term. In 1901, Aguinaldo was captured and swore allegiance to the United States, and resistance gradually died out. The conflict ended with a Peace Proclamation on July 4, 1902. However, armed resistance continued sporadically, with heavy casualties on both sides, until 1913, especially in Mindanao and Sulu.

U.S. administration of the Philippines was always declared to be temporary and aimed to develop institutions that would permit and encourage the eventual establishment of a free and democratic government. Therefore, U.S. officials concentrated on the creation of such practical supports for democratic government as public education and a sound legal system.

The first legislative assembly was elected in 1907. A bicameral legislature, largely under Philippine control, was established. A civil service was formed and was gradually taken over by the Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by the end of World War I. The Catholic Church was disestablished, and a considerable amount of church land was purchased and redistributed.

In 1935, under the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel Quezon was elected president of the new government, which was designed to prepare the country for independence after a 10-year transition period. World War II intervened, however, and in May 1942, Corregidor, the last American/Filipino stronghold, fell. U.S. forces in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese, placing the islands under

Japanese control. During the occupation, thousands of Filipinos fought a running guerilla campaign against Japanese forces.

The full-scale war to regain the Philippines began when Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed on Leyte on October 20, 1944. Filipinos and Americans fought together until the Japanese surrender in September 1945. Much of Manila was destroyed during the final months of the fighting, making it the second most devastated city in World War II after Warsaw. In total, an estimated one million Filipinos lost their lives in the war.

As a result of the Japanese occupation, the guerrilla warfare that followed, and the battles leading to liberation, the country suffered great damage and a complete organizational breakdown. Despite the shaken state of the country, the United States and the Philippines decided to move forward with plans for independence. On July 4, 1946, the Philippine Islands became the independent Republic of the Philippines, in accordance with the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act. In 1962, the official Independence Day was changed from July 4 to June 12, commemorating the date independence from Spain was declared by General Aguinaldo in 1898.

Post-Independence Period

The early years of independence were dominated by U.S.-assisted postwar reconstruction. The communist-inspired Huk Rebellion (1945-53) complicated recovery efforts before its successful suppression under the leadership of President Ramon Magsaysay. The succeeding administrations of Presidents Carlos P. Garcia (1957-61) and Diosdado Macapagal (1961-65) sought to expand Philippine ties to its Asian neighbors, implement domestic reform programs, and develop and diversify the economy.

In 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965-86) declared martial law, citing growing lawlessness and open rebellion by the communist rebels as his justification. Marcos governed from 1973 until mid-1981 in accordance with the transitory provisions of a new constitution that replaced the commonwealth constitution of 1935. He suppressed democratic institutions and restricted civil liberties during the martial law period, ruling largely by decree and popular referenda. The government began a process of political normalization during 1978-81, culminating in the reelection of President Marcos to a 6-year term that would have ended in 1987. The Marcos government’s respect for human rights remained low despite the end of martial law on January 17, 1981. His government retained its wide arrest and detention powers. Corruption and favoritism contributed to a serious decline in economic growth and development under Marcos.

The assassination of opposition leader Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino upon his return to the Philippines in 1983, after a long period of exile, coalesced popular dissatisfaction with Marcos and set in motion a succession of events that culminated in a snap presidential election in February 1986. The opposition united under Aquino’s widow, Corazon Aquino, and Salvador Laurel, head of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO). The election was marred by widespread electoral fraud on the part of Marcos and his supporters. International observers, including a U.S. delegation led by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), denounced the official results. Marcos was forced to flee the Philippines in the face of a peaceful civilian-military uprising that ousted him and installed Corazon Aquino as president on February 25, 1986.

Under Aquino’s presidency progress was made in revitalizing democratic institutions and respect for civil liberties. However, the administration was also viewed by many as weak and fractious, and a return to full political stability and economic development was hampered by several attempted coups staged by disaffected members of the Philippine military.

Fidel Ramos was elected president in 1992. Early in his administration, Ramos declared “national reconciliation” his highest priority. He legalized the Communist Party and created the National Unification Commission (NUC) to lay the groundwork for talks with communist insurgents, Muslim separatists, and military rebels. In June 1994, President Ramos signed into law a general conditional amnesty covering all rebel groups, as well as Philippine military and police personnel accused of crimes committed while fighting the insurgents. In October 1995, the government signed an agreement bringing the military insurgency to an end. A peace agreement with one major Muslim insurgent group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was signed in 1996, using the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as a vehicle for self-government.

Popular movie actor Joseph Ejercito Estrada’s election as President in May 1998, marked the Philippines’ third democratic succession since the ouster of Marcos. Estrada was elected with overwhelming mass support on a platform promising poverty alleviation and an anti-crime crackdown.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, elected Vice President in 1998, assumed the Presidency in January 2001 after widespread demonstrations that followed the breakdown of Estrada’s impeachment trial on corruption charges.

The Philippine Supreme Court subsequently endorsed unanimously the constitutionality of the transfer of power. National and local elections took place in May 2004. Under the constitution, Arroyo was eligible for another six-year term as president, and she won a hard-fought campaign against her primary challenger, movie actor Fernando Poe, Jr. in elections held May 10, 2004. Noli De Castro was elected Vice President. Impeachment charges were brought against Arroyo in June of 2005 for allegedly tampering with the results of the elections after purported tapes of her speaking with an electoral official during the vote count surfaced. The Congress rejected the charges in September 2005. Similar charges were discussed and dismissed by the Philippine Congress in the summer of 2006.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The Philippines has a representative democracy modeled on the U.S. system. The 1987 constitution, adopted during the Aquino administration, reestablished a presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary. The president is limited to one 6-year term. Provision also was made in the constitution for autonomous regions in Muslim areas of Mindanao and in the Cordillera region of northern Luzon where many indigenous tribes still live.

The 24-member Philippine Senate is elected at large. There are currently 23 senators, however. The May 2004 national election produced 12 new senators, although, because current Senator Noli De Castro was elected Vice President, he will leave his seat empty until the next Senate elections in 2007. Of a maximum 250 members of the House of Representatives, 212 are elected from single-member districts. The remainder of the House seats are designated for sectoral party representatives elected at large, called party list representatives; currently there are 24 such representatives in the House.

When Arroyo assumed the Presidency, her “People Power Coalition,” led by the Lakas-CMD party, became the dominant group in Congress. The 75-member Lakas party leads the “Sunshine Coalition,” which also includes the 61-member Nationalist People’s Coalition, some members of the now-divided Liberal Party, and several other major and minor parties. The LDP party leads the 20-member opposition bloc. Members of the Philippine Congress tend to have weak party loyalties and change party affiliation easily. There is no clear majority in the Senate, which changed its President in 2006.

The government continues to face threats from both terrorist groups and communist insurgents, and rising crime and concerns about the security situation have had a negative impact on tourism and foreign investment. The Department of State in August 2002 added the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) to the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list. The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which gained international notoriety with its kidnappings of foreign tourists in the southern islands, and which is also on the U.S. FTO list, remains is a major problem for the government. In May 2001, the ASG kidnapped several Americans, beheading one of them in June 2001. In a June 2002 rescue attempt, another American hostage was killed. Efforts to track down and destroy the ASG have met with some success, especially on Basilan and Jolo, where U.S. troops advised, assisted and trained Philippine soldiers in counterterrorism. The ASG also has links to the terrorist Jemaah Islamiyah group, which has provided training in explosives.

In August 2001, the government reached a cease-fire agreement with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). During President Arroyo’s May 2003 State Visit to Washington, President Bush pledged diplomatic and financial support for the peace process, a move that both sides embraced. In June 2003, the MILF issued a formal renunciation of terrorism. An ensuing cessation of hostilities continues to hold, aided by an International Monitoring Team led by Malaysia. Talks between the two sides continue, with the Government of Malaysia acting as principal mediator.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 1/16/2007

President: Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO

Vice President: Manuel Noli DE CASTRO, Jr.

Executive Secretary: Eduardo ERMITA Chief of Staff:

Sec. of Agrarian Reform: Nasser PANGANDAMAN

Sec. of Agriculture: Arthur YAP

Sec. of the Budget & Management: Rolando ANDAYA

Sec. of Education, Culture, & Sports: Jesli LAPUS

Sec. of Energy: Raphael LOTILLA

Sec. of Environment & Natural Resources: Angelo REYES

Sec. of Finance: Margarito Gary TEVES

Sec. of Foreign Affairs: Alberto ROMULO

Sec. of Health: Francisco DUQUE III

Sec. of Interior & Local Govt.: Ronaldo PUNO

Sec. of Justice: Raul GONZALEZ

Sec. of Labor & Employment: Arturo BRION

Sec. of National Defense (Acting): Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO

Sec. of Public Works & Highways: Hermogenes EBDANE, Jr.

Sec. of Science & Technology: Estrella ALABASTRO

Sec. of Social Welfare & Development: Esperanza CABRAL

Sec. of Socio-Economic Planning: Romulo NERI

Sec. of Tourism: Joseph DURANO

Sec. of Trade & Industry: Peter FAVILA

Sec. of Transportation & Communications: Leandro MENDOZA

National Security Adviser: Norberto GONZALES

Governor, Central Bank: Amando TETANGCO, Jr.

Ambassador to the US: Willy GAA

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Hilario DAVIDE

The Republic of the Philippines maintains an embassy in the United States at 1600 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-467-9300). Consulates general are in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Agana (Guam).

ECONOMY

Since the end of the Second World War, the Philippine economy has had a mixed history of growth and development. Over the years, the Philippines has gone from being one of the richest countries in Asia (following Japan) to being one of the poorest. Growth immediately after the war was rapid, but slowed over time. A severe recession in 1984-85 saw the economy shrink by more than 10%, and perceptions of political instability during the Aquino administration further dampened economic activity. During his administration, President Ramos introduced a broad range of economic reforms and initiatives designed to spur business growth and foreign investment. As a result, the Philippines saw a period of higher growth, but the Asian financial crisis triggered in 1997 slowed economic development in the Philippines once again. President Estrada managed to continue some of the reforms begun by the Ramos administration. Important laws to strengthen regulation and supervision of the banking system (General Banking Act) and securities markets (Securities Regulation Code), to liberalize foreign participation in the retail trade sector, and to promote and regulate electronic commerce were enacted during his abbreviated term. Despite occasional challenges to her presidency and resistance to pro-liberalization reforms by vested interests, President Arroyo has made considerable progress in restoring macroeconomic stability with the help of a well-regarded economic team. However, despite recent progress, fiscal problems remain one of the economy’s weakest points and its biggest vulnerability.

Important sectors of the Philippine economy include agriculture and industry, particularly food processing, textiles and garments, and electronics and automobile parts. Most industries are concentrated in the urban areas around metropolitan Manila. Mining also has great potential in the Philippines, which possesses significant reserves of chromite, nickel, and copper. Significant natural-gas finds off the islands of Palawan have added to the country’s substantial geothermal, hydro, and coal energy reserves.

Today’s Economy

The Philippines was less severely affected by the Asian financial crisis than its neighbors, aided in part by annual remittances from overseas Filipino workers that exceeded $10 billion in 2005. Except for 1998—when drought and weather-related disturbances pulled down agricultural harvests, combining with the contraction in industrial sector production—real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has recorded positive growth year-on-year. From a 0.6% decline in 1998, GDP expansion picked up in 1999 (3.4%) and 2000 (4.4%) but slowed to under 2% in 2001 in the context of a global economic slowdown, export slump, and domestic as well as global political and security concerns. Year-on-year GDP growth accelerated to 4.5% in 2002, reflecting the continued resilience of the service sector, gains in industrial sector output, and recovering exports. The economy exhibited resilience during 2003 with 4.5% GDP growth, notwithstanding serious external and domestic shocks. (including the Iraq War, SARS, uncertainties over global economic prospects, sovereign credit-rating downgrades, and resurgent law-and-order worries). GDP increased by 6% in 2004, a fifteen-year high, but is expected to expand by under 5% in 2005 on weaker export growth, drought-affected agricultural harvests, and high oil prices. Historically, the Philippines has had difficulty sustaining growth at over 5%. It will take a higher, sustained economic-growth path to make more appreciable progress in poverty alleviation given the Philippines’ high annual population growth rate of 2.36%—one of the highest in Asia.

Agriculture generally suffers from low productivity, low economies-of-scale, and inadequate infrastructure support. Agricultural output fell in 1997 and 1998 due to an El Niño-related drought but increased by 6.0% in 1999 (over 1998’s low base). Growth reverted to more normal rates in 2000 (4.0%) and 2001 (3.7%).

Agricultural output (affected by another, albeit milder, dry spell) expanded by 3.9% year-on-year in 2002 and 3.2% in 2003. Agricultural output increased by 5.1% in real terms during 2004 but stagnated to 2.24% in 2005 due to drought and intermittent weather disturbances.

The Philippines relies heavily on electronics shipments for about two-thirds of export revenues. Although there has been some improvement, over the years, local value added of electronics exports remains relatively low at about 30%. Overall export receipts grew minimally at 4.0% in 2005 due to a lethargic 2.2% increase in foreign exchange receipts from electronics shipments. Year-on-year export growth however, accelerated to 16.8% during the first half of 2005, with receipts from electronics shipments up by 29.8%

Although less severely affected than its neighbors, the Philippines’ banking sector was not spared from high interest rates and non-performing asset (NPA) levels during the Asian financial crisis and its aftermath. Increases in minimum capitalization requirements, increasing loan-loss provisions, and generally healthy capital-adequacy ratios have helped temper systemic risk. The Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) Act of January 2003, which provides time-bound fiscal and regulatory incentives to encourage the sale to private asset management companies, has helped to reduce banks’ portfolios of non-performing assets (NPAs). As of July 2005, the ratio of the commercial banking system’s NPAs to total assets had declined to under 9.5% (from 12.3% as of July 2004). Banks had until April 2005 to conclude notarized agreements to sell their NPAs to qualify for incentives under the law.

A bill supported by the Philippine Central Bank and the banking sector seeks to extend the deadline towards further reducing the NPA ratio to pre-crisis levels of under 5%. Circumstances surrounding bank closures continue to highlight remaining impediments to more effective bank supervision and timely intervention—including stringent bank secrecy laws, obstacles preventing bank regulators from examining banks at will, and inadequate legal protection for Central Bank officials and examiners.

The government faces another important challenge in addressing threats to the long-term viability of state-run pension funds. The monetary authority’s adoption since January 2002 of an inflation-targeting framework has enhanced transparency in the conduct of monetary policy. The govern-ment—which has targeted lower fiscal deficits since 2003 toward balancing the budget before the end of President Arroyo’s term—contained the full-year 2004 budget deficit to 3.9% of GDP (down from 2002’s 5.3% record high) and is on track thus far to containing the 2005 deficit to 3.4% of GDP in 2005, reflecting spending restrain and more vigorous efforts by tax collection agencies to improve administration, enforcement, and governance. However, the current 13% tax-to-GDP ratio remains well below the 17% peak ratio achieved in 1997.

The Aquino and Ramos administrations opened up the relatively closed Philippine economy and provided a firmer base for sustainable economic growth. After a slow start, President Estrada and his cabinet continued with, and expanded, liberalization and market-based policies and reforms. Efforts to reform the constitution to encourage foreign investment, particularly foreign ownership of land, were abandoned amidst nationalist opposition. Initial optimism about prospects for economic reform also had dimmed amid concerns of governmental corruption. Scandals involving the Philippine Stock Exchange, and the President’s close ties to certain businessmen, shook confidence of investors and the business community and ultimately led to successful efforts to impeach and remove President Estrada.

The Arroyo Administration enacted an anti-money laundering law in September 2001 and followed through with amendments in March 2003 to address remaining legal concerns posed by the OECD Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) removed the Philippines from its list of Non-Cooperating Countries and Territories in February 2005, noting the significant progress made to remedy concerns and deficiencies identified by the FATF to improve implementation. The Egmont Group, the international network of financial intelligence units, admitted the Philippines to its membership in June 2005. The Arroyo government is pushing for congressional approval of an anti-terrorism law to strengthen its campaign against terrorism and terrorist financing.

Although encountering implementation hitches, the Arroyo administration also enacted legislation in 2001 to rationalize the electric power sector and privatize the government’s debt-saddled National Power Corporation (NPC). The government has achieved some success in establishing an independent regulatory system for electricity pricing which will benefit NPC finances. In addition to the Special Purpose Vehicle law, President Arroyo also signed into law in 2003 a priority initiative to reform the government procurement system (the Government Procurement Reform Act).

During the first quarter of 2004, she signed into law legislation to rationalize and plug leakages in the Philippines’ convoluted documentary stamp tax system and encourage secondary trading of financial instruments, as well as legislation (the Securitization Act) towards establishing the necessary infrastructure and market environment for a wide range of asset-backed securities. She also signed legislation to institutionalize Alternative Dispute Resolution for civil cases to help address the problem of overburdened court dockets.

Notwithstanding a number of favorable policy developments, the Philippine economy continues to juggle extremely limited financial resources while attempting to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding population and address intensifying demands for the current administration to deliver on its anti-poverty promises. Over 80% of the government budget is devoted to non-discretionary expenses (i.e., debt service, government salaries and benefits, and legally-mandated revenue transfers to local government units). The current high level of government debt, the substantial share of foreign obligations, the emerging risks posed by contingent liabilities (particularly those of the government’s debt-saddled NPC), and the worrisome deterioration in the tax collection performance from the 1997 peak (still low by regional standards) have increased the country’s vulnerability to severe external and domestic shocks. More recent reforms include laws increasing excise taxes on tobacco and liquor products and establishing a system of rewards and penalties in revenue collection agencies.

An amended Value Added Tax law (which would reduce VAT exemptions and increase the VAT rate from 10% to 12% in 2006 represents the most significant measure thus far in the Arroyo Administration’s efforts to raise revenues from legislative measures to balance the budget two years ahead of schedule (2008 vs. 2010) while expanding investments in infrastructure and improving the delivery of essential social services. As of end-September 2005, the amended VAT law—originally scheduled for implementation in July 2005 but challenged by opposition lawmakers and other groups before the Supreme Court—was on hold pending a final ruling by the Court.

The U.S. Trade Representative removed the Philippines from its Special 301 Priority Watchlist in 2006, reflecting improvement in its enforcement of intellectual property rights protection. Potential foreign investors, as well as tourists, continue to be concerned about law and order, inadequate infrastructure, and governance issues. While trade liberalization presents significant opportunities, intensifying global competition and the emergence of low-wage export economies also pose challenges. Competition from other Southeast Asian countries and from China for investment underlines the need for sustained progress on structural reforms to remove bottlenecks to growth, lower costs of doing business, and promote good public and private sector governance. The government has been working to reinvigorate its anti-corruption drive and the Office of the Ombudsman has reported improved conviction rates. Nevertheless, the Philippines will need to do more to improve international perception of its anti-corruption campaign—an effort that will require strong political will and significantly greater financial and human resources.

Agriculture and Forestry

Arable farmland comprises more than 40% of the total land area. Although the Philippines is rich in agricultural potential, inadequate infrastructure, lack of financing, and government policies have limited productivity gains. Philippine farms produce food crops for domestic consumption and cash crops for export. The agricultural sector employs nearly 37% of the work force but provides less than one-fifth of GDP.

Decades of uncontrolled logging and slash-and-burn agriculture in marginal upland areas have stripped forests, with critical implications for the ecological balance. The government has instituted conservation programs, but deforestation remains a severe problem.

With its 7,107 islands, the Philippines has a very diverse range of fishing areas. Notwithstanding good prospects for the agriculture subsector, the marine fishing industry continues to face a bleak future due to destructive fishing methods, a lack of funds, and inadequate government support.

Industry

Industrial production is centered on processing and assembly operations of the following: food, beverages, tobacco, rubber products, textiles, clothing and footwear, pharmaceuticals, paints, plywood and veneer, paper and paper products, small appliances, and electronics. Heavier industries are dominated by the production of cement, glass, industrial chemicals, fertilizers, iron and steel, and refined petroleum products.

The industrial sector is concentrated in the urban areas, especially in the metropolitan Manila region and has only weak linkages to the rural economy Inadequate infrastructure, transportation and communication have so far inhibited faster industrial growth, although significant strides have been made in addressing the last of these elements.

Mining

The Philippines is one of the world’s most highly mineralized countries, with untapped mineral wealth estimated at more than $840 billion. Philippine copper, gold and chromite deposits are among the largest in the world. Other important minerals include nickel, silver, coal, gypsum, and sulfur. The Philippines also has significant deposits of clay, limestone, marble, silica, and phosphate. The discovery of natural gas reserves off Palawan Island has been brought online to generate electricity.

Despite its rich mineral deposits, the Philippine mining industry is just a fraction of what it was in the 1970s and 1980s when the country ranked among the ten leading gold and copper producers worldwide. Low metal prices, high production costs, and lack of investment in infrastructure have contributed to the industry’s overall decline. A December 2004 Supreme Court decision upheld the constitutionality of the 1995 Mining Act, thereby allowing up to 100% foreign-owned companies to invest in large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, oil and gas.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

In its foreign policy, the Philippines cultivates constructive relations with its Asian neighbors, with whom it is linked through membership in ASEAN, of which it will serve as Chair until summer 2007, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. The Philippines is a member of the UN and some of its specialized agencies, and served a 2-year term as a member of the UN Security Council from January 2004 to 2006, serving as UNSC President in September 2005. Since 1992, the Philippines has been a member of the Non-Aligned Movement. The government is seeking observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The Philippines has played a key role in ASEAN in recent years and also values its relations with the countries of the Middle East, in no small part because hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are employed in that region. The fundamental Philippine attachment to democracy and human rights is reflected in its foreign policy. Philippine soldiers and police have participated in a number of multilateral civilian police and peacekeeping operations, and a Philippine Army general served as the first commander of the UN Peacekeeping Operation in East Timor. The Philippines presently has peacekeepers in Haiti and Liberia. The Philippines also participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom, deploying some 50 troops to Iraq in 2003. (These troops were subsequently withdrawn in 2004 after a Filipino overseas worker was kidnapped.) The Philippine Government also has been active in efforts to reduce tensions among rival claimants to the territories and waters of the resource-rich South China Sea. The welfare of the some eight million overseas Filipino workers is considered to be a pillar of Philippine foreign policy. Foreign exchange remittances from these workers exceed 12% of the country’s gross domestic product.

U.S.-PHILIPPINE RELATIONS

U.S.-Philippine relations are based on shared history and commitment to democratic principles, as well as on economic ties. The historical and cultural links between the Philippines and the U.S. remain strong. The Philippines modeled its governmental institutions on those of the U.S., and continues to share a commitment to democracy and human rights. At the most fundamental level of bilateral relations, human links continue to form a strong bridge between the two countries. There are an estimated three million Americans of Philippine ancestry in the United States and more than 130,000 American citizens in the Philippines.

Until November 1992, pursuant to the 1947 Military Bases Agreement, the United States maintained and operated major facilities at Clark Air Base, Subic Bay Naval Complex, and several small subsidiary installations in the Philippines. In August 1991, negotiators from the two countries reached agreement on a draft treaty providing for use of Subic Bay Naval Base by U.S. forces for 10 years. The draft treaty did not include use of Clark Air Base, which had been so heavily damaged by the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo that the U.S. decided to abandon it.

In September 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the bases treaty, and despite further efforts to salvage the situation, the two sides could not reach agreement. As a result, the Philippine Government informed the U.S. on December 6, 1991, that it would have one year to complete withdrawal. That withdrawal went smoothly and was completed ahead of schedule, with the last U.S. forces departing on November 24, 1992. On departure, the U.S. Government turned over assets worth more than $1.3 billion to the Philippines, including an airport and ship-repair facility. Agencies formed by the Philippine Government have converted the former military bases for civilian commercial use, with Subic Bay serving as a flagship for that effort.

The post-U.S. bases era has seen U.S.-Philippine relations improved and broadened, with a prominent focus on economic and commercial ties while maintaining the importance of the security dimension. U.S. investment continues to play an important role in the Philippine economy, while a strong security relationship rests on the 1952 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). In February 1998, U.S. and Philippine negotiators concluded the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), paving the way for increased military cooperation under the MDT. The agreement was approved by the Philippine Senate in May 1999 and entered into force on June 1, 1999. Under the VFA, the U.S. has conducted ship visits to Philippine ports and has resumed large combined military exercises with Philippine forces. Key events in the bilateral relationship include the July 4, 1996 declaration by President Ramos of Philippine-American Friendship Day in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Philippine independence. Ramos visited the United States in April 1998, and then-President Estrada visited in July 2000. President Arroyo (PGMA) met with President Bush in an official working visit in November 2001 and made a state visit in Washington on May 19, 2003. Numerous U.S. Cabinet-level visits to the Philippines punctuated this period, culminating in a visit by Secretary of State Colin Powell in August 2002. President Bush made a State Visit to the Philippines on October 18, 2003, during which he addressed a joint session of the Philippine Congress—the first American President to do so since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

President Arroyo has repeatedly stressed the close friendship between the Philippines and the United States and her desire to strengthen bilateral ties further. Our governments seek to revitalize and strengthen our partnership by working toward greater security, prosperity, and service to Filipinos and Americans alike. Inaugurated into office on the same day as President Bush, President Arroyo lent strong support to the global war on terrorism.

Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) 02-1 in 2002 contributed directly to the Philippines armed forces efforts to root out Abu Sayyaf terrorists and bring development to one formerly terrorist-plagued island. The U.S. and the Philippines have intensified their annual cycle of combined military training around the country as well as the military’s civil affairs and humanitarian projects, funded by $70 million in U.S. Foreign Military Financing projected between 2004-06. Moreover, the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, $2.7 million in FY 2004, is the largest in Asia and the second largest in the world. At $148 million the Philippines is the number one recipient in Asia of Excess Defense Articles. The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) was signed in November 2002 after a year-long negotiation process. Similarly, law enforcement cooperation has reached new levels. U.S. and Philippines agencies have cooperated to bring charges against 15 Abu Sayyaf terrorists, implement our extradition treaty, and train some 700 Filipino law enforcement officers in 2002. In October 2003, the United States designated the Philippines as a Major Non-NATO Ally. The same month, the Philippines joined the select group of countries to have ratified all 12 UN Counterterrorism Conventions.

The United States is also working closely with the Philippines to reduce poverty and increase prosperity. The U.S. fully supports President Arroyo’s “Strong Republic” reform agenda for rooting out corruption, opening economic opportunity, and investing in health and education. USAID programs, worth $16 million in FY 2005, support the Arroyo Administration’s war on poverty as well as the GRP reform agenda in critical areas, including anti-money laundering, rule of law, tax collection, and trade and investment.

Other USAID programs worth $23.2 million bolstered the government’s efforts to heal divisions in Philippine society through a focus on conflict resolution, livelihood enhancement for former combatants, and economic development in Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, among the poorest areas in the country. Meanwhile, important programs continue in modern family planning, infectious disease control, environmental protection, rural electrification, and provision of basic services—as well as PL 480 food aid programs, which together totaled $70 million in FY 2005. In November 2004, the Philippines became eligible for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Threshold Program and in 2006, MCC granted $21 million for this threshold program, addressing corruption in revenue administration. Nearly 400,000 Americans visit the Philippines each year. Providing government services to U.S. and other party’s citizens, therefore, constitutes an important aspect of the bilateral relationship. Those services include veterans affairs, social security, and consular operations. Benefits to Filipinos from the U.S Veterans Affairs and Social Security administrations totaled, $143.9 million and $246.7 million, respectively. Many people-to-people programs exist between the U.S. and the Philippines, including Fulbright, International Visitors, and Aquino Fellowship exchange programs, as well as the U.S. Peace Corps.

Trade and Investment

Two-way U.S. merchandise trade with the Philippines amounted to $16.1 billion in 2005 (U.S. Department of Commerce data). According to Philippine Government data, some 18% of the Philippines’ imports in 2005 came from the U.S., and about 18% of its exports were bound for America. The Philippines ranks as our 25th largest export market and our 28th largest supplier. Key exports to the U.S. are semiconductor devices and computer peripherals, automobile parts, electric machinery, textiles and garments, wheat and animal feeds, and coconut oil. In addition to other goods, the Philippines imports raw and semi-processed materials for the manufacture of semiconductors, electronics and electrical machinery, transport equipment, and cereals and cereal preparations.

The United States traditionally has been the Philippines’ largest foreign investor, with about $6.6 billion in estimated investment as of end-2005 according to official U.S. statistics (U.S. Department of Commerce data). Since the late 1980s, the Philippines has committed itself to reforms that encourage foreign investment as a basis for economic development, subject to certain guidelines and restrictions in specified areas. Under President Ramos, the Philippines expanded reforms, opening the power generation and telecommunications sectors to foreign investment, as well as securing ratification of the Uruguay Round agreement and membership in the World Trade Organization. As noted earlier, President Arroyo administration has generally continued such reforms despite opposition from vested interests and “nationalist” blocs. A major obstacle has been and will continue to be constitutional restrictions on, among others, foreign ownership of land and public utilities, which limits maximum ownership to 40%.

Over the last two decades, the relatively closed Philippine economy has been opened significantly by foreign exchange deregulation, foreign investment and banking liberalization, tariff and market barrier reduction, and foreign entry into the retail trade sector. The Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 opened opportunities for U.S. firms to participate in the power industry in the Philippines. Information and communications technologies, backroom operations such as call centers, and regional facilities or shared-service centers are likewise leading investment opportunities.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

MANILA (E) Address: 1201 Roxas Road, P.O. Box 151, Manila; APO/FPO: PSC 500, APO, AP 96515-1000; Phone: 632-5286300; Fax: 63-2-522-4361; Workweek: Monday–Friday, 7:30am-4:30pm; Website: http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

AMB:KRISTIE A. KENNEY
AMB OMS:NELIA G. ADANZA
DCM:PAUL W. JONES
DCM OMS:MARIA T. DE VEYRA
CG:RICHARD D. HAYNES
POL:SCOTT D. BELLARD
MGT:CATHERINE I. EBERT RAY
US EXEC DIR:(Vacant)
US ALT EXEC DIR:PAUL W. CURRY
AFSA:(Vacant)
AGR:EMIKO PURDY
AID:JON D. LINDBORG
APHIS:Vacant
ATO:DENNIS B. VOBORIL
CLO:TARA D. VISANI
COM/ADB:KENNETH REIDBORD
DAO:BRUCE A. WEST
DEA:TIMOTHY C. TEAL
ECO:LARRY L. MEMMOTT
EEO:CLEVELAND L. CHARLES; Linda E. Daetwyler
FAA:BERT WILLIAMS
FCS:JUDY R. REINKE
FIN:VIVIAN M. LESH
FMO:MICHAEL D. BERRYMAN
GSO:SCOTT D. MCDONALD
IBB:TERENCE J. DONOVAN
ICASS Chair:STEPHEN P. CUTLER
IMO:ROGER W. JOHNSON
INS:JOHN P. ABRAM
IPO:THEODORE F. CULP, JR.
ISO:BRADLEY L. SUMMERS
ISSO:ROMEO O. BALLESTEROS; DAVID C. PILLMAN
LAB:MARIO A. FERNANDEZ
LEGATT:STEPHEN P. CUTLER
PAO:M. LEE MCCLENNY
RAMC:JOHN C. BEDWELL
RSO:JACOB M. WOHLMAN

Last Updated: 1/17/2007

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : June 19, 2006

Country Description: The Philippines is a developing nation with a democratic system of government, located in Southeast Asia. The archipelago consists of more than 7,000 islands, of which 880 are inhabited. The major island groupings are Luzon in the north, the Visayas in the center, and Mindanao in the south. Tourist facilities are available within population centers and the main tourist areas. English is widely spoken in the Philippines, and most signs are in English.

Entry/Exit Requirements: U.S. citizens may enter the Philippines without a visa upon presentation of their U.S. passport, valid for at least six months after the date of entry into the Philippines, and a return ticket to the United States or an onward ticket to another country. Upon arrival immigration authorities will annotate your passport with an entry visa valid for 21 days. If you plan to stay longer than 21 days you must apply for an extension at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation’s main office at Magallanes Drive; Intramuros, Manila, Philippines, or at any of its provincial offices (http://www.immigration.gov.ph).

Persons who overstay their visas are subject to fines and detention by Philippine immigration authorities. American citizens are urged to remain aware of their visa status while in the Philippines and to follow immigration laws and regulations strictly.

Travelers departing the country from international airports must pay a Passenger Service Charge in Philippine Pesos. For further information on entry/exit requirements, please contact the Embassy of the Philippines at: 1600 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 (telephone: (202) 467-9300), or one of the Philippine consulates in the United States (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco) or via the Internet at http://www.philippineembassyusa.org.

Special requirements exist for the entry of unaccompanied minors. In an effort to prevent international child abduction, the Philippine government requires that a waiver of exclusion be obtained from a Philippine Embassy or Consulate or from the Bureau of Immigration and Detention in Manila for a child under 15 years of age who plans to enter the Philippines unaccompanied by either a parent or legal guardian prior to the child’s entry into the Philippines.

Safety/Security: The Department urges Americans who choose to travel to the Philippines to observe vigilant personal security precautions, and remain aware of the continued potential for terrorist attacks, including those against U.S. citizens. Americans are also encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy. The Department warns against all but essential travel throughout the country in light of heightened threats to Westerners. Explosive devices have been placed in shopping malls, on public transportation, at airports and port facilities, in places of worship, and in other public areas resulting in numerous casualties and deaths. No area of the Philippines is immune from the possibility of a terrorist attack, although the southern island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are particularly affected.

One of three bombs that exploded on February 14, 2005 was planted on a bus near an upscale commercial district of Makati, Metro Manila, killing four people. In December 2005, the Embassy closed its public services for two days in response to threat information. Travelers should be aware that since security has increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists could seek softer targets. Such targets could include but are not limited to places where Americans and other Westerners might live, congregate, shop or visit, including hotels, beach resorts, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, businesses, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or public recreation events.

The Philippine government has been engaged in negotiations with Communist and Muslim insurgent groups. Nonetheless, terrorist activity and armed banditry in certain areas of the Philippines still poses security concerns. The Communist Party of the Philippines and its terrorist military arm, the New People’s Army, operate throughout the country and have issued public threats against U.S. citizens and interests in the Philippines.

In Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, kidnapping, bombing, violence, and insurgent activity make travel hazardous in many areas. The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which the U.S. Government has designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization, has kidnapped several Americans and other foreign tourists since April 2000. Some were freed after payment of substantial ransoms, some escaped or were rescued by military action, and some were killed. Other kidnapping gangs operate in the same general area and have abducted a number of foreigners for ransom.

Operatives of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which the U.S. Government has also designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization, are present in the Philippines as well. JI is an extremist group linked to al-Qaeda and other regional terrorist groups and has cells operating throughout Southeast Asia. Extremist groups in the region have demonstrated a capability to carry out transnational attacks in locations where Westerners congregate. Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. U.S. citizens and interests may be at increased risk from terrorist actions by foreign or domestic extremist groups in the Philippines. There are periodic reports of plans for possible terrorist acts aimed at U.S. Government facilities or personnel, public and private institutions, and transportation carriers.

The U.S. Embassy takes all such threats seriously. The State Department reminds all Americans traveling or living abroad of the need to remain vigilant with regard to personal security issues and to always follow basic and important security countermeasures: do not establish a pattern or routine in movement and travel; vary the times and routes taken to the extent possible; maintain a low profile; and immediately report any unusual activity, to include possible surveillance, to the Philippine Police and the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy.

In February 2006, the President of the Philippines declared a State of National Emergency due to reported political destabilization efforts by elements in the military, political opposition, and Communist Party of the Philippines after reports of a coup attempt. While the President lifted the State of National Emergency after one week, American citizens should avoid areas of new political demonstrations and exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations. Americans residing or traveling in the Philippines should also always remain aware of their surroundings, listen to news reports, and ensure that travel documents are current.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Travelers are also encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila at tel. (63) (2) 528-6300 for an update of the current security situation, especially if planning to travel outside the Metro Manila area.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: As in many of the major metropolitan areas in the United States, crime is a serious concern in Metro Manila. As a rule of thumb, Americans should exercise good judgment and remain aware of their surroundings. Reports of confidence games, pick pocketing, and credit card fraud are common. Be wary of unknown individuals who attempt to befriend you, especially just after you have arrived in country.

A number of recent robberies and assaults involving the “date rape drug” (known locally as Ativan) have occurred; the drug is generally administered to unwitting male and female visitors via food or drink. It is best not to accept food, drink, or rides in private vehicles from strangers, even if they appear legitimate. There have been several kidnappings and violent assaults of foreigners in the Metro Manila area. There have also been reports of gunmen robbing foreign passengers in vehicles traveling to and from the international airport.

Taxis are the recommended form of public transportation. However, the following safeguards are important: do not enter a taxi if it has already accepted another passenger; and, request that the meter be used. If the driver is unwilling to comply with your requests, it is best to wait for another cab. It is also a good idea to make a mental note of the license plate number should there be a problem. When driving in the city, make certain that the doors are locked and the windows rolled up. All other forms of public transportation, such as the light rail system, buses, and “jeepneys” should be avoided for both safety and security reasons.

Visitors should also be vigilant when using credit cards. One common form of credit card fraud involves the illicit use of an electronic device to retrieve and record information, including the PIN, from the card’s magnetic strip. The information is then used to make unauthorized purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this scam, never let your card out of your sight.

A continuing problem is the commercial scam or sting that attempts to sell or to seek negotiation of fraudulent U.S. securities. Visitors and residents should be wary when presented with supposed Federal Reserve Notes or U.S. securities for sale or negotiation. For further information, consult the Federal Reserve System’s Web site.

Information for Victims of Crime: Americans should report immediately the loss or theft of a U.S. passport in the Philippines to the local police and to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. If you are the victim of a crime while in the Philippines, in addition to reporting to local police, Americans may contact the U.S. Embassy’s American Citizen Services Unit, which can for example, provide lists of doctors or lawyers, contact family members or friends, and explain how to transfer funds from the U.S.

Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of Philippine authorities, U.S. consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and find an attorney if needed.

The Philippines has a victim compensation program to provide financial compensation to victims of violent or personal crime and of unjust imprisonment. Information may be obtained from the Philippine Department of Justice at 011-632-521-6264 or via the Internet at http://www.doj.gov.ph/.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Adequate medical care is available in major cities in the Philippines, but even the best hospitals may not meet the standards of medical care, sanitation, and facilities provided by hospitals in the United States. Medical care is limited in rural and more remote areas. Most hospitals will require a down payment of estimated fees in cash at the time of admission.

Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost several or even tens of thousands of dollars. A list of doctors and medical facilities in the Philippines is available on the web page of the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, please consult the World Heath Organization’s website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Philippines is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Travel within the Philippine archipelago is possible by boat, plane, bus, or car. Few tourists rent cars to drive, as the road system is crowded and drivers are undisciplined. Driving off the national highways and paved roads is particularly dangerous, especially at night, and should be avoided. To avoid overcrowded or unsafe transport, exercise caution in planning travel by older, inter-island ferryboats, or other public conveyances.

For specific information concerning Philippine driver’s permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. at tel. (202) 467-9300 or one of the Philippine consulates in the United State (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco) or via the Internet at http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org. Please see also related information from the Philippine Department of Tourism at http://www.tourism.gov.ph and http://www.dotpcvc.gov.ph.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Philippine Government as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of the Philippines’ air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Marriage in the Philippines: The Philippine Government requires foreigners who wish to marry in the Philippines to obtain from the U.S. Embassy a “Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” before filing an application for a marriage license. Because there is no national register of marriages in the United States, the U.S. Embassy cannot provide such a certification. As a result, the Philippine Government will accept an “Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” in its place. Americans may execute this affidavit at the U.S. Embassy in Manila Monday-Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., except for Philippine or American holidays. The American must present his/her U.S. passport. There is a fee of $30.00 or its peso equivalent for the affidavit. Philippine authorities will not accept any substitute document issued in the United States. Before traveling to the Philippines to be married, U.S. military personnel should contact their personnel office regarding Department of Defense joint service regulations.

Execution of the affidavit by a U.S. consular officer is a notarial act and the consular officer is authorized by U.S. law to refuse to perform the service if the document will be used for a purpose patently unlawful, improper, or inimical to the best interests of the United States. Entering into a marriage contract for the principal purpose of facilitating immigration to the United States for an alien is an unlawful act, and the U.S. Code provides penalties for individuals who commit perjury in an affidavit taken by a consular officer. Relationship fraud is a persistent problem in the Philippines, and it is not uncommon for Filipinos to enter into marriages with Americans solely for immigration purposes. Relationships developed via correspondence, particularly those begun on the Internet, are particularly susceptible to manipulation.

The Marriage Application Process: Once an American citizen has obtained from the U.S. Embassy an “Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage,” he/she may file an application for a marriage license at the office of the Philippine Civil Registrar in the town or city where one of the parties is a resident. The U.S. citizen applicant must present: (a) the affidavit; (b) divorce decree(s) or death certificate(s), if applicable (required to verify civil status and legal capacity to contract marriage); (c) his/her U.S. passport; and (d) documentation regarding parental consent or advice, if applicable. (Persons aged 18 to 21 must have written parental consent to marry in the Philippines; those aged 22 to 24 must have received parental advice. Philippine law prohibits marriage for persons under the age of 18.) A judge, a minister, or other person authorized by the Philippine Government can perform the marriage.

Marriage to a U.S. citizen confers neither citizenship nor an automatic eligibility for entry to the United States. A foreign spouse requires an immigrant visa to live in the United States. Questions about filing a petition to bring a foreign spouse to the United States may be directed to the nearest U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service office, to the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Office (telephone: (202) 663-1225) or, while in the Philippines, to the U.S. Embassy’s Immigrant Visa Unit at http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

Disaster Preparedness: The Philippines is a volcano-, typhoon- and earthquake-prone country. From May to December, typhoons and flash floods often occur. Flooding can cause road delays and cut off bridges. Typhoons in the vicinity of the Philippines can interrupt air and sea links within the country. Volcanic activity is frequent, and periodically the Philippine Government announces alerts for specific volcanoes. Updated information on volcanoes in the Philippines is available at the following Web sites: http://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/ and http://volcanoes.usgs.gov. Earthquakes can also occur throughout the country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the Philippines National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) at http://ndcc.gov.ph/ndcc/ and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.

Customs: Philippine customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from the Philippines of items such as firearms and currency. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, D.C. or one of the Philippine consulates in the United States (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco) for specific information regarding customs requirements. Counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available in the Philippines; transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. A current list of countries with serious problems in this regard can be found at the United States Trade Representative’s website.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.

Persons violating Philippines laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Philippines are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Capital punishment is possible for certain drug-related crimes. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Under the Protect Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to travel to a foreign country to engage in criminal sexual activity or to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country. It is important to note that under the new legislation, the act of illicit sexual conduct is sufficient to violate the law—the intent to travel for the purpose of engaging in the criminal sexual activity does not need to be proven. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct means: (1) a sexual act with a person under 18 years of age that would be illegal in the United States or (2) any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18.

The Philippine Bureau of Immigration arrests several Americans each year on immigration charges of “undesirability,” sometimes based solely on complaints arising from personal or business disputes in the Philippines. Frequently, these detainees cannot be deported and/or released from custody until substantial fines are paid and any underlying criminal charges are resolved – a process that sometimes takes months or even years.

Fraud, swindling, and “bad debts” are also serious criminal offenses in the Philippines, as is the illegal recruitment of Philippine citizens for employment overseas. Several Americans are currently serving lengthy prison sentences for illegal recruitment activities. The Philippine Government also has strict laws against the possession of firearms, and several foreigners have been sentenced to life imprisonment for bringing firearms into the country. Americans who are arrested overseas should immediately ask to contact a U.S. Embassy representative.

Children’s Issues: Under Philippine law, the mother and father of a child are held to exercise parental control jointly, and child custody cases are considered civil disputes. Parental abduction is not a crime. The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For specific information on child custody cases in the Philippines, please consult the web page of the U.S. Embassy in Manila at http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

Registration/Embassy and Consular Agency Location: The Department encourages Americans living in or visiting the Philippines to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Philippines. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy.

By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of an emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. (63)(2) 528-6300. The Consular American Citizen Services (ACS) section’s fax number is (63)(2) 522-3242 and the ACS web page is at http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

The U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu provides limited services for U.S. citizens. The Consular Agency address is: Waterfront Hotel, Lahug, Cebu City, tel. (63) (32) 231-1261.

The Virtual Consulate Davao (http://www.usvirtualconsulatedavao.org.ph) provides targeted information and services of interest to Americans residing in or traveling to Davao. The Virtual Consulate supports email correspondence for queries from American citizens. Regularly scheduled “chat” sessions also allow Americans to interact in real time with the American Citizens Services personnel at the U.S. Embassy.

International Adoption : January 2007

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: The adoption of relatives is common in Philippine culture. This may result in a desire to adopt a child whose parents are both still alive. In most cases, that child would technically not be an orphan under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. If the adoptive child does not qualify as an orphan as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, the adoptive parents will be required to demonstrate that they had legal custody of the child for at least two years AND resided with the child for at least two years during which time they exercised primary parental control.

Prospective adoptive parents may request the assistance of the U.S. Embassy in Manila in determining whether their prospective adoptive child is classifiable as an orphan under U.S. immigration law.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: The main government authorities responsible for domestic adoptions in the Philippines are the Regional Trial Courts where adopting parents can file adoption petitions. These courts work closely with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to investigate and process adoption cases. For intercountry adoptions, the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) also works with the DSWD and foreign adoption agencies to ensure that children and adopting parents are qualified.

The Inter-Country Adoption Board
P.O. Box 1622
#2 Chicago corner Ermin Garcia Streets
Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines
Tel: (632) 721-9781/82 (632) 726-4551/68
Fax: (632) 727-2026
E-mail: [email protected]
Internet: www.skyinet.net/~icaba/

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents (for U.S. Citizens Living Outside of The Philippines): Under Article III, Sec. 9 of the Philippines’ Intercountry Adoptions Act of 1995 or Republic Act No. 8043: A U.S. citizen permanently residing outside the Philippines may file an application for inter-country adoption of a Filipino child if he/she:

  • Is at least twenty seven (27) years of age;
  • at least sixteen (16) years older than the child to be adopted at
  • the time of application unless the adopter is the parent by nature of the child to be adopted or the spouse of such parent;
  • If married, his/her spouse must jointly file for the adoption;
  • Has the capacity to act and assume all rights and responsibilities of parental authority under his national laws and has undergone the appropriate counseling from an accredited counselor in his/her country;
  • Has not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude;
  • Is eligible to adopt under his/her state/federal law;
  • Is in a position to provide proper care and support and to give necessary moral values and example to all his children, including the child to be adopted;
  • Agrees to uphold the basic rights of the child as embodied under Philippine laws, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to abide by the rules and regulations issued to implement the provisions of this Act;
  • Possesses all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications provided herein and in other applicable Philippine laws.

Residency Requirements (for U.S. Citizens Living in the Philippines): U.S. citizens interested in adopting a Filipino child while they are living in the Philippines must be residents of the Philippines for at least three years prior to the filing of the adoption petition and maintain such residence until the adoption is finalized.

Prospective adopting parents who meet these requirements should file a petition for adoption with the Philippine Court to begin the adoption process. This process is completed when the Philippine court issues the Certificate of Finality for Adoption.

U.S. citizens not meeting these residency requirements will have to adopt through the ICAB procedures outlined in the section below.

Time Frame: Adoption processing depends upon many variables, including the availability of children to be matched with prospective adoptive parents, the number of prospective adoptive parents on the waiting list, and the caseload of social service agencies and the courts.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Information about accredited Foreign Adoption Agencies (FAAs) licensed to work in the Philippines is available on the ICAB website, at http://www.skyinet.net/~icaba/page10.html, or by request from the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Neither the Embassy nor the U.S. Department of State assumes any responsibility for the quality of services provided by these private adoption agencies or their employees.

Fees: Fees can vary widely depending upon the adoption agency used.

Adoption Procedures: To start the Philippine adoption process, prospective adoptive parents or their accredited FAA must contact the Philippine Inter-country Adoption Board (ICAB).

The prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) shall file an application with the ICAB through a United States adoption agency. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should endorse to the ICAB a child who has been previously committed to the Philippine government. A child is “committed” by way of the “Deed of Voluntary Commitment,” a document used by DSWD asking for the biological mother and/or biological parents’ signature prior to matching the child with a prospective adoptive parent. The document is essentially the parent/s’ consent releasing the child to DSWD for subsequent adoption. In the event that the child is abandoned or neglected and no parent is available to sign the “Deed of Voluntary Commitment,” DSWD instead obtains a commitment order from the court. This endorsement certifies that inter-country adoption is in the best interests of the child. The Inter-Country Adoption Placement Committee matches the child with a person or couple interested in adopting and refers its proposal to ICAB for approval. If the match is approved, the concerned adoption agency in the United States shall be sent a notice of matching proposal. The prospective adoptive parents shall notify the adoption agency in the United States of his/her decision within 15 days of receipt of the matching proposal.

Note: The Philippine Inter-Country Adoption Act prohibits contact between the prospective adoptive parents and child’s parents/guardians or custodians.

The ICAB shall issue the Placement Authority within five working days upon receipt of the prospective adoptive parents’ acceptance of the matching proposal.

The child must appear at the Embassy for his/her immigrant visa interview. The adoptive parents must escort the child from the Philippines to the United States. Upon assuming custody of the child, the adoptive parents enter a six-month trial period where the accredited adoption agency in the United States monitors the child’s welfare. After completion of the trial custody period, the adoptive parent should file a petition for adoption before the court in the United States. The final U.S. adoption decree should be submitted to ICAB within a month after its issuance.

Documentary Requirements: The following documents, which must be written and officially translated into English, shall accompany the prospective adoptive parents’ application for adoption (Source: Article VIII, Section 28 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Philippine Intercountry Adoption Law (Republic Act 8043):

  • Family and Home Study Reports on the family and home of the prospective adoptive parents (PAPs);
  • Birth Certificates of the PAPs;
  • Marriage certificate of the PAPs or Decree of Absolute divorce, if applicable;
  • Written consent of the PAPs biological or adopted children who are ten years of age or over witnessed by the social worker after proper counseling;
  • Physical and medical evaluation by a duly licensed physician and psychological evaluation by a psychologist;
  • Latest income tax return or any other documents showing financial capability of the PAPs;
  • Clearance issued by the police of other proper government agency of the place where the PAPs reside;
  • Character reference from the local church minister/priest, the PAPs employer or a non-relative member of the immediate community who have known the PAPs for at least five (5) years;
  • Certification from the U.S. Department of Justice or other appropriate government agency that the PAPs are qualified to adopt under their national law and that the child to be adopted is allowed to enter the country for trial custody and reside permanently in the said place once adopted; and
  • Recent postcard-size pictures of the PAPs and immediate family.

Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines, Washington, D.C.:

1600 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel—(202) 467-9300
Fax: (202) 467-9417
Email: [email protected]

Website: www.philippineembassy-usa.org

The Philippines also has consulates in Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Embassy of the United States of America, Manila, Philippines:
1201 Roxas Blvd.
Ermita, Metro Manila – 1000
Tel: (632) 528-6300

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in the Philippines may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

International Parental Child Abduction : February 2007

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General Information: The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the Philippines and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. Therefore, there is no treaty remedy by which the left behind parent would be able to pursue recovery of the child/ren should they be abducted to or wrongfully retained in the Philippines. Once in the Philippines, the child/ren would be completely subject to Philippine law for all matters including custody.

Custody Disputes: Parental child abduction is not a crime under Philippine law. Custody disputes are considered civil legal matters that must be resolved between the concerned parties or through the courts in the Philippines. Philippine authorities advise the American Embassy that generally the Philippine courts will give custody of children under the age of seven to the mother, provided there is no evidence that would indicate that the mother is unfit to raise the child. Although there is no treaty in force between the United States and the Philippines on enforcement of judgments, the Philippine courts will also take into consideration child custody decrees issued by foreign courts in deciding disputes regarding children residing in the Philippines.

The Department of Justice in the Philippines states that, in general, redress in child custody cases is sought through habeas corpus orders/proceedings in court. These orders can be obtained on an expedited basis and direct law enforcement to locate and take a child into custody for the purposes of an emergency hearing. Ideally, these orders and proceedings ensure due process under the local laws as well as providing protection for the child/ren.

In order to bring a custody issue before the Domestic Relations/Family Court, the left-behind parent will require the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in the Philippines. A parent holding a custody decree issued in U.S. courts must therefore retain local counsel in the Philippines to apply to the Philippine courts for recognition and enforcement of the U.S. decree, or to invoke the writ of habeas corpus. Although visitation rights for non-custodial parents are not expressly stipulated in the Philippine Civil Code, court judgments often provide visitation rights for non-custodial parents.

U.S. consular officers are prohibited by U.S. federal regulations from providing legal advice, from taking custody of a child, from forcing a child to be returned to the United States, from providing assistance or refuge to parents attempting to violate local law, or from initiating or attempting to influence child custody proceedings in foreign courts.

The American Citizen Services division of the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy can assist in locating children believed to be in the Philippines and in verifying the child’s welfare. If a child is in danger or if there is evidence of abuse, consular officers will request assistance from the local authorities in safeguarding the child’s welfare.

Consular officers maintain lists of attorneys practicing in the particular areas of the Philippines, as well as general information regarding child custody practices.

Deportation: While there is an extradition treaty between the United States and the Philippines, parental child abduction is not an extraditable offense. However, if the taking parent is a U.S. citizen whose U.S. passport has been revoked due to an outstanding federal Unlawful Flight to avoid Prosecution (UFAP) warrant or indictment on charges of International Parental Kidnapping (IPKCA) in violation of 18 USC Section 1204, Philippine authorities may consider deportation based on lack of a valid travel document.

Dual Nationality: A child with a parent who was born outside of the U.S. or who has acquired a second nationality through naturalization in another country may have a claim to citizenship in that country.

There is no requirement that a U.S. citizen parent consent to the acquisition by his/her child of another nationality and in many cases a parent is unaware that his/her child may have dual citizenship. The Embassy of the Philippines in Washington D.C. will be able to provide more detailed information on whether your child has a claim.

Initiating Foreign Enforcement Proceedings Under Local Law: If a country is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, it may be necessary for you to initiate a child custody action in the courts in the foreign country. This usually will require retaining the services of an attorney abroad. The Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues is not a repository for foreign laws. However, selected information may be available concerning general procedures on child custody in particular countries. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov.

Legal Aid: Some countries provide legal aid services in child custody cases. The legal attache or consular section of the foreign embassy in Washington, D.C. may have specific guidance. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov.

Service of Process: If you need to serve process on a person abroad in connection with a child custody case, you may obtain copies of our country specific judicial assistance flyers on this subject through via our home page on the Internet at http://caweb/cainternet/judicial_assistance.html.

Criminal Remedies: The proper channel for the return of the child is through civil mechanisms or voluntary return arrangements. Additional information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org.

Additional Information: For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State at 1-888-407-4747 or visit its web site on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. You may also direct inquiries to: Office of Children’s Issues; U.S. Department of State; Washington, DC 20520-4811; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

Travel Warning : June 16, 2006

This Travel Warning updates information on the security situation and reminds Americans of the risks of travel to the Philippines. Terrorist groups and radical insurgents continue to plan multiple attacks throughout the Philippines. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for the Philippines dated March 23, 2005.

The Department of State urges American citizens to consider carefully the risks of travel to the Philippines and continues to warn against all but essential travel throughout the country in light of heightened threats to Westerners. The Department also continues to urge Americans who choose to travel to the Philippines to observe vigilant personal security precautions, and to remain aware of the continued potential for terrorist attacks, including those against U.S. citizens. Terrorist groups, including Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf Group, continue to plan multiple attacks throughout the Philippines, as do some radical insurgents who have broken away from Moro groups. Explosive devices have been placed in shopping malls, on public transportation, at airports and port facilities, in places of worship, and in other public areas resulting in numerous casualties and deaths.

No area of the Philippines is immune from the possibility of a terrorist attack, although the southern island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are particularly affected. One of three bombs that exploded on February 14, 2005 was planted on a bus near an upscale commercial district of Makati, Metro Manila, killing four people. In December 2005, the U.S. Embassy closed its public services for two days in response to threat information. Travelers should be aware that since security has increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists might seek softer targets. Such targets could include, but are not limited to, places where Americans and other Westerners might live, congregate, shop or visit, including hotels, beach resorts, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, businesses, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or public recreation events.

The Department strongly encourages Americans in the Philippines to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov.

The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. 632-528-6300. The Consular American Citizen Services (ACS) section’s fax number is 632-522-3242 and the ACS web page is at http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/rp1/wwwhmain.html. Americans can obtain information on travel and security in the Philippines from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States; or 202-501-4444 from overseas.

U.S. citizens should also consult the recent Public Announcement for the Philippines, the Department of State’s Consular Information Sheet for the Philippines and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, located at http://travel.state.gov/ to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Philippines.

views updated

PHILIPPINES

Compiled from the September 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of the Philippines


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

300,000 sq. km. (117,187 sq. mi.).

Major cities (2000 census):

Capital—Manila (pop. 9.9 million in metropolitan area); other cities—Davao City (1.2 million); Cebu City (0.7 million).

Terrain:

Islands, 65% mountainous, with narrow coastal lowlands.

Climate:

Tropical, astride typhoon belt.

People

Nationality:

Noun—Filipino(s). Adjective—Philippine.

Population (2000 census):

76.5 million; estimate for 2004: 83.9 million.

Annual growth rate:

2.36%.

Ethnic groups:

Malay, Chinese.

Religion:

Catholic 85%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 5%, Buddhist and other 1%.

Language:

Pilipino (based on Tagalog), national language; English, language of government and instruction in education.

Education:

Years compulsory—6 (note: 6 years of primary education free and compulsory; 4 years of secondary education free but not compulsory). Attendance—94% in elementary grades, 64% in secondary grades. Literacy—93.4%.

Health:

Infant mortality rate (2003)—29 per 1,000. Life expectancy (2003)—67.8 yrs. for males; 73.1 yrs. for females.

Work force (2004):

35.8 million. Services (including commerce and government, 2004)—47%; agriculture—20%; industry—33%.

Government

Type:

Republic.

Independence:

1946.

Constitution:

February 11, 1987.

Branches:

Executive—president and vice president. Legislative—bicameral legislature. Judicial—independent.

Administrative subdivisions:

15 regions and Metro Manila (National Capital Region), 79 provinces, 115 cities.

Political parties:

Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, Nationalist People's Coalition, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Liberal Party, Aksiyon Demokratiko, Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, and other small parties.

Suffrage:

Universal, but not compulsory, at age 18.

Economy

GDP (2004):

$84.2 billion.

Annual GDP growth rate (2004):

6.1%.

GDP per capita (2004):

$976.

Natural resources:

Copper, nickel, iron, cobalt, silver, gold.

Agriculture:

Products—rice, coconut products, sugar, corn, pork, bananas, pineapple products, aquaculture, mangoes, eggs.

Industry:

Types—textiles and garments, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wood products, food processing, electronics assembly, petroleum refining, fishing.

Trade (2004):

Exports—$39.6 billion. Imports—$40.3 billion.


PEOPLE

The majority of Philippine people are of Malay stock, descendants of Indonesians and Malays who migrated to the islands long before the Christian era. The most significant ethnic minority group is the Chinese, who have played an important role in commerce since the ninth century, when they first came to the islands to trade. As a result of intermarriage, many Filipinos have some Chinese and Spanish ancestry. Americans and Spaniards constitute the next largest alien minorities in the country.

More than 90% of the people are Christian; most were converted and became Westernized to varying degrees during nearly 400 years of Spanish and American rule. The major non-Hispanicized groups are the Muslim population, concentrated in the Sulu Archipelago and in central and western Mindanao, and the mountain groups of northern Luzon. Small forest tribes still live in the more remote areas of Mindanao.

About 87 native languages and dialects are spoken, all belonging to the Malay-Polynesian linguistic family. Of these, eight are the first languages of more than 85% of the population. The three principal indigenous languages are Cebuano, spoken in the Visayas; Tagalog, predominant in the area around Manila; and Ilocano, spoken in northern Luzon. Since 1939, in an effort to develop national unity, the government has promoted the use of the national language, Pilipino, which is based on Tagalog. Pilipino is taught in all schools and is gaining acceptance, particularly as a second language. Many use English, the most important nonnative language, as a second language, including nearly all professionals, academics, and government workers. In January 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Department of Education to restore English as the medium of instruction in all schools and universities. Only a few Filipino families use Spanish as a first language.

The Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in the East Asian and Pacific area. About 92% of the population 10 years of age and older are literate.


HISTORY

The history of the Philippines can be divided into four distinct phases: the pre-Spanish period (before 1521); the Spanish period (1521-1898); the American period (1898-1946); and the years since independence (1946-present).

Pre-Spanish Period

The first people in the Philippines, the Negritos, are believed to have come to the islands 30,000 years ago from Borneo and Sumatra, making their way across then-existing land bridges. Subsequently, people of Malay stock came from the south in successive waves, the earliest by land bridges and later in boats called barangays. The Malays settled in scattered communities, which became known as barangays, and which were ruled by chieftains known as datus. Chinese merchants and traders arrived and settled in the ninth century A.D. In the 14th century, Arabs arrived, introducing Islam in the south and extending some influence even into Luzon. The Malays, however, remained the dominant group until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.

Spanish Period

Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines and claimed it for Spain in 1521, and for the next 377 years, the islands were under Spanish rule. This period was the era of conversion to Roman Catholicism. A Spanish colonial social system was developed with a government centered on Manila and with considerable clerical influence. Spanish influence was strongest in Luzon and the Central Philippines. It was less strong in Mindanao, save for certain coastal cities. The long period of Spanish rule was marked by numerous uprisings. Towards the latter half of the 19th century, western-educated Filipinos or "ilustrados" such as national hero Jose Rizal began to criticize the excesses of Spanish rule and instilled a new sense of national identity. This movement gave inspiration to the final revolt against Spain which began in 1896 under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo and continued until the Americans defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.

American Period

Following Admiral Dewey's defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, the United States occupied the Philippines. Spain ceded the islands to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (December 10, 1898) that ended the war.

A war of resistance against U.S. rule, led by Revolutionary President Aguinaldo, broke out in 1899. This conflict claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Filipinos and thousands of Americans. Although Americans have historically used the term "the Philippine Insurrection," Filipinos and an increasing number of American historians refer to these hostilities as the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), and in 1999 the U.S. Library of Congress reclassified its references to use this term. In 1901, Aguinaldo was captured and swore allegiance to the United States, and resistance gradually died out. The conflict ended with a Peace Proclamation on July 4, 1902. However, armed resistance continued sporadically, with heavy casualties on both sides, until 1913, especially in Mindanao and Sulu.

U.S. administration of the Philippines was always declared to be temporary and aimed to develop institutions that would permit and encourage the eventual establishment of a free and democratic government. Therefore, U.S. officials concentrated on the creation of such practical supports for democratic government as public education and a sound legal system.

The first legislative assembly was elected in 1907. A bicameral legislature, largely under Philippine control, was established. A civil service was formed and was gradually taken over by the Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by the end of World War I. The Catholic Church was disestablished, and a considerable amount of church land was purchased and redistributed.

In 1935, under the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel Quezon was elected president of the new government, which was designed to prepare the country for independence after a 10-year transition period. World War II intervened, however, and in May 1942, Corregidor, the last American/Filipino stronghold, fell. U.S. forces in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese, placing the islands under Japanese control. During the occupation, thousands of Filipinos fought a running guerilla campaign against Japanese forces.

The full-scale war to regain the Philippines began when Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed on Leyte on October 20, 1944. Filipinos and Americans fought together until the Japanese surrender in September 1945. Much of Manila was destroyed during the final months of the fighting. In total, an estimated one million Filipinos lost their lives in the war.

As a result of the Japanese occupation, the guerrilla warfare that followed, and the battles leading to liberation, the country suffered great damage and a complete organizational breakdown. Despite the shaken state of the country, the United States and the Philippines decided to move forward with plans for independence. On July 4, 1946, the Philippine Islands became the independent Republic of the Philippines, in accordance with the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act. In 1962, the official Independence Day was changed from July 4 to June 12, commemorating the date independence from Spain was declared by General Aguinaldo in 1898.

Post-Independence Period

The early years of independence were dominated by U.S.-assisted postwar reconstruction. The communist-inspired Huk Rebellion (1945-53) complicated recovery efforts before its successful suppression under the leadership of President Ramon Magsaysay. The succeeding administrations of Presidents Carlos P. Garcia (1957-61) and Diosdado Macapagal (1961-65) sought to expand Philippine ties to its Asian neighbors, implement domestic reform programs, and develop and diversify the economy.

In 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965-86) declared martial law, citing growing lawlessness and open rebellion by the communist rebels as his justification. Marcos governed from 1973 until mid-1981 in accordance

with the transitory provisions of a new constitution that replaced the commonwealth constitution of 1935. He suppressed democratic institutions and restricted civil liberties during the martial law period, ruling largely by decree and popular referenda. The government began a process of political normalization during 1978-81, culminating in the reelection of President Marcos to a 6-year term that would have ended in 1987. The Marcos government's respect for human rights remained low despite the end of martial law on January 17, 1981. His government retained its wide arrest and detention powers. Corruption and favoritism contributed to a serious decline in economic growth and development under Marcos.

The assassination of opposition leader Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino upon his return to the Philippines in 1983, after a long period of exile, coalesced popular dissatisfaction with Marcos and set in motion a succession of events that culminated in a snap presidential election in February 1986. The opposition united under Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino, and Salvador Laurel, head of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO).

The election was marred by widespread electoral fraud on the part of Marcos and his supporters. International observers, including a U.S. delegation led by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), denounced the official results. Marcos was forced to flee the Philippines in the face of a peaceful civilian-military uprising that ousted him and installed Corazon Aquino as president on February 25, 1986.

Under Aquino's presidency progress was made in revitalizing democratic institutions and respect for civil liberties. However, the administration was also viewed by many as weak and fractious, and a return to full political stability and economic development was hampered by several attempted coups staged by disaffected members of the Philippine military.

Fidel Ramos was elected president in 1992. Early in his administration, Ramos declared "national reconciliation" his highest priority. He legalized the Communist Party and created the National Unification Commission (NUC) to lay the groundwork for talks with communist insurgents, Muslim separatists, and military rebels. In June 1994, President Ramos signed into law a general conditional amnesty covering all rebel groups, as well as Philippine military and police personnel accused of crimes committed while fighting the insurgents. In October 1995, the government signed an agreement bringing the military insurgency to an end.

A peace agreement with one major Muslim insurgent group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was signed in 1996, using the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as a vehicle for self-government.

Popular movie actor Joseph Ejercito Estrada's election as President in May 1998, marked the Philippines' third democratic succession since the ouster of Marcos. Estrada was elected with overwhelming mass support on a platform promising poverty alleviation and an anti-crime crackdown.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, elected Vice President in 1998, assumed the Presidency in January 2001 after widespread demonstrations that followed the breakdown of Estrada's impeachment trial on corruption charges. The Philippine Supreme Court subsequently endorsed unanimously the constitutionality of the transfer of power.

National and local elections took place in May 2004. Under the constitution, Macapagal-Arroyo was eligible for another six-year term as president, and she won a hard-fought campaign against her primary challenger, movie actor Fernando Poe, Jr. in elections held May 10, 2004. Noli De Castro was elected Vice President. Impeachment charges were brought against Macapagal-Arroyo in June of 2005 for allegedly tampering with the results of the elections after purported tapes of her speaking with an electoral official during the vote count surfaced. The Congress rejected the charges in September 2005.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The Philippines has a representative democracy modeled on the U.S. system. The 1987 constitution, adopted during the Aquino administration, reestablished a presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary. The president is limited to one 6-year term. Provision also was made in the constitution for autonomous regions in Muslim areas of Mindanao and in the Cordillera region of northern Luzon where many indigenous tribes still live.

The 24-member Philippine Senate is elected at large. There are currently 23 senators, however. The May 2004 national election produced 12 new senators, although, because current Senator Noli De Castro was elected Vice President, he will leave his seat empty until the next Senate elections in 2007. Of a maximum 250 members of the House of Representatives, 212 are elected from single-member districts. The remainder of the House seats are designated for sectoral party representatives elected at large, called party list representatives; currently there are 24 such representatives in the House.

When Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the Presidency, her "People Power Coalition," led by the Lakas-CMD party, became the dominant group in Congress. The 75-member Lakas party leads the "Sunshine Coalition," which also includes the 61-member Nationalist People's Coalition, the 22-member Liberal Party, and several other major and minor parties. The LDP party leads the 20-member opposition bloc. In the Senate, the pro-administration coalition controls 12 of the 22 seats. Members of the Philippine Congress tend to have weak party loyalties and change party affiliation easily.

The government continues to face threats from both Muslim separatist groups and communist insurgents, and rising crime and concerns about the security situation have had a negative impact on tourism and foreign investment. The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which recently gained international notoriety with its kidnappings of foreign tourists in the southern islands, is a major problem for the government. In May 2001, the ASG kidnapped several Americans, beheading one of them in June 2001. In a June 2002 rescue attempt, another American hostage was killed. Efforts to track down and destroy the ASG have met with some success, especially on Basilan, where U.S. troops advised, assisted and trained Philippine soldiers in counterterrorism. ASG elements remain active on Jolo Island and elsewhere in the southwestern Philippines. Philippine security forces captured an Indonesian terrorist with links to Jemaah Islamiyah in 2002; he escaped from custody in July 2003, but police pursued and killed him in October.

In August 2001, the government reached a cease-fire agreement with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF); negotiations on a final peace agreement continued at a very slow pace amid sporadic fighting. At President Arroyo's May 2003 State Visit to Washington, President Bush pledged diplomatic and financial support for the peace process, a move that both sides embraced. In June 2003, the MILF issued a formal renunciation of terrorism. An ensuing cessation of hostilities has held into mid-2005, and talks between the two sides continue, with the Government of Malaysia acting as principal mediator. The United States Institute of Peace has also made proposals for assisting the peace process, in cooperation with the Philippine Government and the MILF. The Department of State in August 2002 added the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA) to the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list. Negotiations between the government and the CPP's political arm, the National Democratic Front, were suspended in 2001 after the NPA assassinated two members of Congress, although "back-channel" and exploratory talks have continued since then.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 9/20/2005

President: Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO
Vice President: Manuel Noli DE CASTRO, Jr.
Executive Secretary: Eduardo ERMITA
Sec. of Agrarian Reform:
Sec. of Agriculture: Domingo PANGANIBAN
Sec. of the Budget & Management: Romulo NERI
Sec. of Education, Culture, & Sports (Acting): Fe HIDALGO
Sec. of Energy: Raphael LOTILLA
Sec. of Environment & Natural Resources: Michael DEFENSOR
Sec. of Finance: Margarito Gary TEVES
Sec. of Foreign Affairs: Alberto ROMULO
Sec. of Health: Francisco DUQUE III
Sec. of Interior & Local Govt.: Angelo REYES
Sec. of Justice: Raul GONZALEZ
Sec. of Labor & Employment: Patricia SANTO THOMAS
Sec. of National Defense: Avelino CRUZ, Jr.
Sec. of Public Works & Highways: Hermogenes EBDANE, Jr.
Sec. of Science & Technology: Estrella ALABASTRO
Sec. of Social Welfare & Development:
Sec. of Socio-Economic Planning: Augusto Tito SANTOS
Sec. of Tourism: Joseph DURANO
Sec. of Trade & Industry: Peter FAVILA
Sec. of Transportation & Communications: Leandro MENDOZA
National Security Adviser: Norberto GONZALES
Governor, Central Bank: Amando TETANGCO, Jr.
Ambassador to the US: Albert DEL ROSARIO
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Lauro BAJA, Jr.

The Republic of the Philippines maintains an embassy in the United States at 1600 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-467-9300). Consulates general are in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Agana (Guam).


ECONOMY

Since the end of the Second World War, the Philippine economy has had a mixed history of growth and development. Over the years, the Philippines has gone from being one of the richest countries in Asia (following Japan) to being one of the poorest. Growth immediately after the war was rapid, but slowed over time. A severe recession in 1984-85 saw the economy shrink by more than 10%, and perceptions of political instability during the Aquino administration further dampened economic activity. During his administration, President Ramos introduced a broad range of economic reforms and initiatives designed to spur business growth and foreign investment. As a result, the Philippines saw a period of higher growth, but the Asian financial crisis triggered in 1997 slowed economic development in the Philippines once again. President Estrada managed to continue some of the reforms begun by the Ramos administration. Important laws to strengthen regulation and supervision of the banking system (General Banking Act) and securities markets (Securities Regulation Code), to liberalize foreign participation in the retail trade sector, and to promote and regulate electronic commerce were enacted during his abbreviated term. Despite occasional challenges to her presidency and resistance to pro-liberalization reforms by vested interests, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has made considerable progress in restoring macroeconomic stability with the help of a well-regarded economic team. However, despite recent progress, fiscal problems remain one of the economy's weakest points and its biggest vulnerability.

Important sectors of the Philippine economy include agriculture and industry, particularly food processing, textiles and garments, and electronics and automobile parts. Most industries are concentrated in the urban areas around metropolitan Manila. Mining also has great potential in the Philippines, which possesses significant reserves of chromite, nickel, and copper. Significant natural-gas finds off the islands of Palawan have added to the country's substantial geothermal, hydro, and coal energy reserves.

Today's Economy

The Philippines was less severely affected by the Asian financial crisis than its neighbors, aided in part by annual remittances from overseas Filipino workers that are expected to hit the $10 billion mark in 2005. Except for 1998—when drought and weather-related disturbances pulled down agricultural harvests, combining with the contraction in industrial sector production—real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has recorded positive growth year-on-year. From a 0.6% decline in 1998, GDP expansion picked up in 1999 (3.4%) and 2000 (4.4%) but slowed to under 2% in 2001 in the context of a global economic slowdown, export slump, and domestic as well as global political and security concerns. Year-on-year GDP growth accelerated to 4.5% in 2002, reflecting the continued resilience of the service sector, gains in industrial sector output, and recovering exports. The economy exhibited resilience during 2003 with 4.5% GDP growth, notwithstanding serious external and domestic shocks. (including the Iraq War, SARS, uncertainties over global economic prospects, sovereign credit-rating downgrades, and resurgent law-and-order worries). GDP increased by 6% in 2004, a fifteen-year high, but is expected to expand by under 5% in 2005 on weaker export growth, drought-affected agricultural harvests, and high oil prices. Historically, the Philippines has had difficulty sustaining growth at over 5%. It will take a higher, sustained economic-growth path to make more appreciable progress in poverty alleviation given the Philippines' high annual population growth rate of 2.36%—one of the highest in Asia.

Agriculture generally suffers from low productivity, low economies-of-scale, and inadequate infrastructure support. Agricultural output fell in 1997 and 1998 due to an El Niñorelated drought but increased by 6.0% in 1999 (over 1998's low base). Growth reverted to more normal rates in 2000 (4.0%) and 2001 (3.7%). Agricultural output (affected by another, albeit milder, dry spell) expanded by 3.9% year-on-year in 2002 and 3.2% in 2003. Agricultural output increased by 4.9% in real terms during 2004 but stagnated during the first semester of 2005 due to drought and intermittent weather disturbances.

The Philippines relies heavily on electronics shipments for about two-thirds of export revenues. Although there has been some improvement, over the years, local value added of electronics exports remains relatively low at about 30%. Overall export receipts expanded by 9.6% in 2004, led by an 11.2% increase in foreign exchange receipts from electronics shipments. Year-on-year export growth slowed to 3.6% during the first half of 2005, with receipts from electronics shipments up by a lethargic 1.2%.

Although less severely affected than its neighbors, the Philippines' banking sector was not spared from high interest rates and non-performing asset (NPA) levels during the Asian financial crisis and its aftermath. Increases in minimum capitalization requirements, increasing loan-loss provisions, and generally healthy capital-adequacy ratios have helped temper systemic risk. The Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) Act of January 2003, which provides time-bound fiscal and regulatory incentives to encourage the sale to private asset management companies, has helped to reduce banks' portfolios of non-performing assets (NPAs). As of July 2005, the ratio of the commercial banking system's NPAs to total assets had declined to under 9.5% (from 12.3% as of July 2004). Banks had until April 2005 to conclude notarized agreements to sell their NPAs to qualify for incentives under the law. A bill supported by the Philippine Central Bank and the banking sector seeks to extend the deadline towards further reducing the NPA ratio to pre-crisis levels of under 5%. Circumstances surrounding bank closures continue to highlight remaining impediments to more effective bank supervision and timely intervention—including stringent bank secrecy laws, obstacles preventing bank regulators from examining banks at will, and inadequate legal protection for Central Bank officials and examiners. The government faces another important challenge in addressing threats to the long-term viability of state-run pension funds. The monetary authority's adoption since January 2002 of an inflation-targeting framework has enhanced transparency in the conduct of monetary policy. The government—which has targeted lower fiscal deficits since 2003 toward balancing the budget before the end of President Macapagal-Arroyo's term—contained the full-year 2004 budget deficit to 3.9% of GDP (down from 2002's 5.3% record high) and is on track thus far to containing the 2005 deficit to 3.4% of GDP in 2005, reflecting spending restrain and more vigorous efforts by tax collection agencies to improve administration, enforcement, and governance. However, the current 13% tax-to-GDP ratio remains well below the 17% peak ratio achieved in 1997.

The Aquino and Ramos administrations opened up the relatively closed Philippine economy and provided a firmer base for sustainable economic growth. After a slow start, President Estrada and his cabinet continued with, and expanded, liberalization and market-based policies and reforms. Efforts to reform the constitution to encourage foreign investment, particularly foreign ownership of land, were abandoned amidst nationalist opposition. Initial optimism about prospects for economic reform also had dimmed amid concerns of governmental corruption. Scandals involving the Philippine Stock Exchange, and the President's close ties to certain businessmen, shook confidence of investors and the business community and ultimately led to successful efforts to impeach and remove President Estrada.

The Macapagal-Arroyo Administration enacted an anti-money laundering law in September 2001 and followed through with amendments in March 2003 to address remaining legal concerns posed by the OECD Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) removed the Philippines from its list of Non-Cooperating Countries and Territories in February 2005, noting the significant progress made to remedy concerns and deficiencies identified by the FATF to improve implementation. The Egmont Group, the international network of financial intelligence units, admitted the Philippines to its membership in June 2005. The Macapagal-Arroyo government is pushing for congressional approval of an anti-terrorism law to strengthen its campaign against terrorism and terrorist financing.

Although encountering implementation hitches, the Macapagal-Arroyo administration also enacted legislation in 2001 to rationalize the electric power sector and privatize the government's debt-saddled National Power Corporation (NPC). The government has achieved some success in establishing an independent regulatory system for electricity pricing which will benefit NPC finances. In addition to the Special Purpose Vehicle law, President Macapagal-Arroyo also signed into law in 2003 a priority initiative to reform the government procurement system (the Government Procurement Reform Act). During the first quarter of 2004, she signed into law legislation to rationalize and plug leakages in the Philippines' convoluted documentary stamp tax system and encourage secondary trading of financial instruments, as well as legislation (the Securitization Act) towards establishing the necessary infrastructure and market environment for a wide range of asset-backed securities. She also signed legislation to institutionalize Alternative Dispute Resolution for civil cases to help address the problem of overburdened court dockets.

Notwithstanding a number of favorable policy developments, the Philippine economy continues to juggle extremely limited financial resources while attempting to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding population and address intensifying demands for the current administration to deliver on its anti-poverty promises. Over 80% of the government budget is gobbled up by non-discretionary expenses (i.e., debt service, government salaries and benefits, and legally-mandated revenue transfers to local government units). The current high level of government debt, the substantial share of foreign obligations, the emerging risks posed by contingent liabilities (particularly those of the government's debt-saddled NPC), and the worrisome deterioration in the tax collection performance from the 1997 peak (still low by regional standards) have increased the country's vulnerability to severe external and domestic shocks. More recent reforms include laws increasing excise taxes on tobacco and liquor products and establishing a system of rewards and penalties in revenue collection agencies. An amended Value Added Tax law (which would reduce VAT exemptions and increase the VAT rate from 10% to 12% in 2006 represents the most significant measure thus far in the Macapagal-Arroyo Administration's efforts to raise revenues from legislative measures to balance the budget two years ahead of schedule (2008 vs. 2010) while expanding investments in infrastructure and improving the delivery of essential social services. As of end-September 2005, the amended VAT law—originally scheduled for implementation in July 2005 but challenged by opposition lawmakers and other groups before the Supreme Court—was on hold pending a final ruling by the Court.

Reflecting weaknesses in intellectual property rights protection, the country remains on the U.S. Trade Representative's Special 301 Priority Watchlist. Potential foreign investors, as well as tourists, continue to be concerned about law and order, inadequate infrastructure, and governance issues. While trade liberalization presents significant opportunities, intensifying global competition and the emergence of low-wage export economies also pose challenges. Competition from other Southeast Asian countries and from China for investment underlines the need for sustained progress on structural reforms to remove bottlenecks to growth, lower costs of doing business, and promote good public and private sector governance. The government has been working to reinvigorate its anti-corruption drive and the Office of the Ombudsman has reported improved conviction rates. Nevertheless, the Philippines will need to do more to improve international perception of its anti-corruption campaign—an effort that will require strong political will and significantly greater financial and human resources.

Agriculture and Forestry

Arable farmland comprises more than 40% of the total land area. Although the Philippines is rich in agricultural potential, inadequate infrastructure, lack of financing, and government policies have limited productivity gains. Philippine farms produce food crops for domestic consumption and cash crops for export. The agricultural sector employs nearly 40% of the work force but provides less than one-fifth of GDP.

Decades of uncontrolled logging and slash-and-burn agriculture in marginal upland areas have stripped forests, with critical implications for the ecological balance. The government has instituted conservation programs, but deforestation remains a severe problem.

With its 7,107 islands, the Philippines has a very diverse range of fishing areas. Notwithstanding good prospects for the agriculture subsector, the marine fishing industry continues to face a bleak future due to destructive fishing methods, a lack of funds, and inadequate government support.

Industry

Industrial production is centered on processing and assembly operations of the following: food, beverages, tobacco, rubber products, textiles, clothing and footwear, pharmaceuticals, paints, plywood and veneer, paper and paper products, small appliances, and electronics. Heavier industries are dominated by the production of cement, glass, industrial chemicals, fertilizers, iron and steel, and refined petroleum products.

The industrial sector is concentrated in the urban areas, especially in the metropolitan Manila region and has only weak linkages to the rural economy. Inadequate infrastructure, transportation and communication have so far inhibited faster industrial growth, although significant strides have been made in addressing the last of these elements.

Mining

The Philippines is one of the world's most highly mineralized countries, with untapped mineral wealth estimated at more than $840 billion. Philippine copper, gold and chromite deposits are among the largest in the world. Other important minerals include nickel, silver, coal, gypsum, and sulfur. The Philippines also has significant deposits of clay, limestone, marble, silica, and phosphate. The discovery of natural gas reserves off Palawan Island has been brought online to generate electricity.

Despite its rich mineral deposits, the Philippine mining industry is just a fraction of what it was in the 1970s and 1980s when the country ranked among the ten leading gold and copper producers worldwide. Low metal prices, high production costs, and lack of investment in infrastructure have contributed to the industry's overall decline. A December 2004 Supreme Court decision upheld the constitutionality of the 1995 Mining Act, thereby allowing up to 100% foreign-owned companies to invest in large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, oil and gas.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

In its foreign policy, the Philippines cultivates constructive relations with its Asian neighbors, with whom it is linked through membership in ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. The Philippines is a member of the UN and some of its specialized agencies, and began a 2-year term as a member of the UN Security Council in January 2004, serving as UNSC President in September 2005. Since 1992, the Philippines has been a member of the Non-Aligned Movement. The government is seeking observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The Philippines has played a key role in ASEAN in recent years and also values its relations with the countries of the Middle East, in no small part because hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are employed in that region. The fundamental Philippine attachment to democracy and human rights is reflected in its foreign policy. Philippine soldiers and police have participated in a number of multilateral civilian police and peacekeeping operations, and a Philippine Army general served as the first commander of the UN Peace-keeping Operation in East Timor. The Philippines also participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom, deploying some 50 troops to Iraq in 2003. (These troops were subsequently withdrawn in 2004 after a Filipino overseas worker was kidnapped.) The Philippine Government also has been active in efforts to reduce tensions among rival claimants to the territories and waters of the resource-rich South China Sea. The welfare of the some seven million overseas Filipino workers is considered to be a pillar of Philippine foreign policy. Through foreign exchange remittances, these workers account for approximately 10% of the gross domestic product.


U.S.-PHILIPPINE RELATIONS

U.S.-Philippine relations are based on shared history and commitment to democratic principles, as well as on economic ties. The historical and cultural links between the Philippines and the U.S. remain strong. The Philippines modeled its governmental institutions on those of the U.S., and continues to share a commitment to democracy and human rights. At the most fundamental level of bilateral relations, human links continue to form a strong bridge between the two countries. There are an estimated 2 million Americans of Philippine ancestry in the United States and more than 130,000 American citizens in the Philippines.

Until November 1992, pursuant to the 1947 Military Bases Agreement, the United States maintained and operated major facilities at Clark Air Base, Subic Bay Naval Complex, and several small subsidiary installations in the Philippines. In August 1991, negotiators from the two countries reached agreement on a draft treaty providing for use of Subic Bay Naval Base by U.S. forces for 10 years. The draft treaty did not include use of Clark Air Base, which had been so heavily damaged by the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo that the U.S. decided to abandon it.

In September 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the bases treaty, and despite further efforts to salvage the situation, the two sides could not reach agreement. As a result, the Philippine Government informed the U.S. on December 6, 1991, that it would have one year to complete withdrawal. That withdrawal went smoothly and was completed ahead of schedule, with the last U.S. forces departing on November 24, 1992. On departure, the U.S. Government turned over assets worth more than $1.3 billion to the Philippines, including an airport and ship-repair facility. Agencies formed by the Philippine Government have converted the former military bases for civilian commercial use, with Subic Bay serving as a flagship for that effort.

The post-U.S. bases era has seen U.S.-Philippine relations improved and broadened, with a prominent focus on economic and commercial ties while maintaining the importance of the security dimension. U.S. investment continues to play an important role in the Philippine economy, while a strong security relationship rests on the 1952 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). In February 1998, U.S. and Philippine negotiators concluded the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), paving the way for increased military cooperation under the MDT. The agreement was approved by the Philippine Senate in May 1999 and entered into force on June 1, 1999. Under the VFA, the U.S. has conducted ship visits to Philippine ports and has resumed large combined military exercises with Philippine forces. Key events in the bilateral relationship include the July 4, 1996 declaration by President Ramos of Philippine-American Friendship Day in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Philippine independence. Ramos visited the United States in April 1998, and then-President Estrada visited in July 2000. President Macapagal-Arroyo (PGMA) met with President Bush in an official working visit in November 2001 and made a state visit in Washington on May 19, 2003. Numerous U.S. Cabinet-level visits to the Philippines punctuated this period, culminating in a visit by Secretary of State Colin Powell in August 2002. President Bush made a State Visit to the Philippines on October 18, 2003, during which he addressed a joint session of the Philippine Congress—the first American President to do so since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

President Macapagal-Arroyo has repeatedly stressed the close friendship between the Philippines and the United States and her desire to strengthen bilateral ties further. Our governments seek to revitalize and strengthen our partnership by working toward greater security, prosperity, and service to Filipinos and Americans alike. Inaugurated into office on the same day as President Bush, President Macapagal-Arroyo lent strong support to the global war on terrorism and the coalition against Saddam Hussein.

Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) 02-1 in 2002 contributed directly to the Philippines armed forces efforts to root out Abu Sayyaf terrorists and bring development to one formerly terrorist-plagued island. The U.S. and the Philippines have intensified their annual cycle of combined military training around the country as well as the military's civil affairs and humanitarian projects, funded by $70 million in U.S. Foreign Military Financing projected between 2004-06. Moreover, the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, $2.7 million in FY 2004, is the largest in Asia and the second largest in the world. At $148 million the Philippines is the number one recipient in Asia of Excess Defense Articles. The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) was signed in November 2002 after a year-long negotiation process. Similarly, law enforcement cooperation has reached new levels. U.S. and Philippines agencies have cooperated to bring charges against 15 Abu Sayyaf terrorists, implement our extradition treaty, and train some 700 Filipino law enforcement officers in 2002. In October 2003, the United States designated the Philippines as a Major Non-NATO Ally. The same month, the Philippines joined the select group of countries to have ratified all 12 UN Counterterrorism Conventions.

The United States is also working closely with the Philippines to reduce poverty and increase prosperity. The U.S. fully supports President Macapagal-Arroyo's "Strong Republic" reform agenda for rooting out corruption, opening economic opportunity, and investing in health and education. USAID programs, worth $16 million in FY 2005, support the Arroyo Administration's war on poverty as well as the GRP reform agenda in critical areas, including anti-money laundering, rule of law, tax collection, and trade and investment. Other USAID programs worth $23.2 million bolstered the government's efforts to heal divisions in Philippine society through a focus on conflict resolution, livelihood enhancement for former combatants, and economic development in Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, among the poorest areas in the country. Meanwhile, important programs continue in modern family planning, infectious disease control, environmental protection, rural electrification, and provision of basic services—as well as PL 480 food aid programs, which together totaled $70 million in FY 2005. In November 2004, the Philippines became eligible for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Threshold Program. In August 2005, the country's concept proposal for the threshold program, addressing corruption in revenue administration, was approved for the development of a Threshold Country Plan for $20 million. Nearly 400,000 Americans visit the Philippines each year. Filipinos living in the United States remitted about $4.1 billion to the Philippines in 2003. Providing government services to U.S. and other party's citizens, therefore, constitutes an important aspect of the bilateral relationship. Those services include veterans affairs, social security, and consular operations. Benefits to Filipinos from the U.S Veterans Affairs and Social Security administrations totaled, $143.9 million and $246.7 million, respectively. Many people-to-people programs exist between the U.S. and the Philippines, including Fulbright, International Visitors, and Aquino Fellowship exchange programs, as well as the U.S. Peace Corps.

Trade and Investment

Two-way U.S. merchandise trade with the Philippines amounted to $16.2 billion in 2004 (U.S. Department of Commerce data). According to Philippine Government data, some 16% of the Philippines' imports in 2004 came from the U.S., and about 18% of its exports were bound for America. The Philippines ranks as our 21st largest export market and our 28th largest supplier. Key exports to the U.S. are semiconductor devices and computer peripherals, automobile parts, electric machinery, textiles and garments, wheat and animal feeds, and coconut oil. In addition to other goods, the Philippines imports raw and semi-processed materials for the manufacture of semiconductors, electronics and electrical machinery, transport equipment, and cereals and cereal preparations.

The United States traditionally has been the Philippines' largest foreign investor, with about $6.3 billion in estimated investment as of end-2004 according to official U.S. statistics (U.S. Department of Commerce data). Since the late 1980s, the Philippines has committed itself to reforms that encourage foreign investment as a basis for economic development, subject to certain guidelines and restrictions in specified areas. Under President Ramos, the Philippines expanded reforms, opening the power generation and telecommunications sectors to foreign investment, as well as securing ratification of the Uruguay Round agreement and membership in the World Trade Organization. As noted earlier, President Macapagal-Arroyo administration has generally continued such reforms despite opposition from vested interests and "nationalist" blocs. A major obstacle has been and will continue to be constitutional restrictions on, among others, foreign ownership of land and public utilities, which limits maximum ownership to 40%.

Over the last two decades, the relatively closed Philippine economy has been opened significantly by foreign exchange deregulation, foreign investment and banking liberalization, tariff and market barrier reduction, and foreign entry into the retail trade sector. The Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 opened opportunities for U.S. firms to participate in the power industry in the Philippines. Information and communications technologies, backroom operations such as call centers, and regional facilities or shared-service centers are likewise leading investment opportunities.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

MANILA (E) Address: 1201 Roxas Road, P.O. Box 151, Manila; APO/FPO: PSC 500, APO, AP 96515-1000; Phone: 632-5286300; Fax: 63-2-522-4361; Workweek: Mon-Fri, 7:30am-4:30pm; Website: http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

AMB:Vacant
AMB OMS:Vacant
DCM:PAUL W. JONES
DCM OMS:MARIA T. DE VEYRA
CG:RICHARD D. HAYNES
POL:SCOTT D. BELLARD
MGT:SHARON E. LUDAN
US EXEC DIR:PAUL W. SPELTZ
US ALT EXEC DIR:TROY WRAY
AFSA:LEON W. GENDIN
AGR:EMIKO PURDY
AID:JON D. LINDBORG
APHIS:LEONIDES L. CARDENAS
ATO:DENNIS B. VOBORIL
CLO:SUSAN M. GRAY
COM/ADB:C. FRANKLIN FOSTER, JR.
CUS:KEVIN R. PETERS
DAO:TERRY P. COOK
DEA:TIMOTHY C. TEAL
ECO:ROBERT P. LUDAN
EEO:MARIA DE VEYRA; CLEVELAND L. CHARLES
FAA:BERT WILLIAMS
FCS:JUDY R. REINKE
FIN:ROBERT J. RIPLEY
FMO:WILLIAM E. BARNHART
GSO:SCOTT D. MCDONALD
IBB:TERENCE J. DONOVAN
ICASS Chair:STEPHEN P. CUTLER
IMO:ROGER W. JOHNSON
INS:JOHN P. ABRAM
IPO:THEODORE F. CULP, JR.
ISO:BRADLEY L. SUMMERS
ISSO:ROMEO O. BALLESTEROS; DAVID C. PILLMAN
LAB:JOSEPH L. NOVAK
LEGATT:STEPHEN P. CUTLER
PAO:M. LEE MCCLENNY
RAMC:JOHN C. BEDWELL
RSO:WILLIAM H. LAMB
Last Updated: 1/9/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

July 26, 2005

Country Description:

The Philippines is a developing nation with a democratic system of government, located in Southeast Asia. The archipelago consists of more than 7,000 islands, of which 880 are inhabited. The major island groupings are Luzon in the north, the Visayas in the center, and Mindanao in the south. Tourist facilities are available within population centers and the main tourist areas. English is widely spoken in the Philippines, and most signs are in English.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

U.S. citizens may enter the Philippines without a visa upon presentation of their U.S. passport valid for at least six months after the date of entry into the Philippines, and a return ticket to the United States or an onward ticket to another country. Upon your arrival, immigration authorities will annotate your passport with an entry visa valid for 21 days. If you plan to stay longer than 21 days, you must apply for an extension at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation's main office at Magallanes Drive; Intramuros, Manila, Philippines, or at any of their provincial offices located nationwide (http://www.immigration.gov.ph).

Persons who overstay their visas are subject to fines and detention by Philippine immigration authorities. American citizens are urged to remain aware of their visa status while in the Philippines and to follow immigration laws and regulations strictly. Travelers departing the country from international airports must pay a Passenger Service Charge in Philippine Pesos. For further information on entry/exit requirements, please contact the Embassy of the Philippines at: 1600 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 (telephone: (202) 467-9300), or one of the Philippine consulates in the United States (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco) or via the Internet at http://www.philippineembassyusa.org.

Special requirements exist for the entry of unaccompanied minors. In an effort to prevent international child abduction, the Philippine government requires that a waiver of exclusion must be obtained from a Philippine Embassy or Consulate or from the Bureau of Immigration and Detention in Manila for a child under 15 years of age who plans to enter the Philippines unaccompanied by either a parent or legal guardian prior to the child's entry into the Philippines.

Safety/Security:

The terrorist threat to American citizens in the Philippines remains high and the Department warns against all but essential travel to the Philippines. The U.S. Embassy continues to receive reports of ongoing activities and of multiple planned attacks throughout the Philippines by known terrorist groups. Americans should carefully consider the risks of travel to the Philippines. Numerous security-related incidents highlight the risk of travel in certain areas due to kidnappings, bombings, and other violence and criminal activity. The Department urges American who choose to travel or reside in the Philippines to observe vigilant personal security precautions, to remain aware of the continued potential for terrorist attacks against Americans, U.S. or other Western interests in the Philippines, to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Philippines.

The Philippine government has been engaged on and off in negotiations with Communist and Muslim rebel groups. Nonetheless, rebel activity and armed banditry in certain areas of the Philippines still pose security concerns. The Communist Party of the Philippines and its terrorist military arm, the New People's Army, operate throughout the country and have issued public threats against U.S. citizens and interests in the Philippines. Americans are urged to exercise caution when traveling throughout the country and are specifically warned to avoid hiking or camping in the vicinity of Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga Province.

In Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, kidnappings, bombings, violence, and insurgent activity make travel hazardous in many areas. The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which the U.S. Government has designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization, has kidnapped several Americans and other foreign tourists since April 2000. Some were freed after substantial ransoms were paid, some escaped or were rescued by military action, and some were killed. Other kidnapping gangs operate in the same general area and have abducted a number of foreigners for ransom.

Americans are urged to defer non-emergency travel to central, southern, and western Mindanao, and the islands of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Jolo, located in the Sulu archipelago in the southwest of the Philippines, due to military operations against kidnappings and other criminal activity.

Operatives of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which the U.S. Government has also designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization, are also present in the Philippines. JI is an extremist group linked to al-Qaeda and other regional terrorist groups and has cells operating throughout Southeast Asia. Extremist groups in the region have demonstrated a capability to carry out transnational attacks in locations where Westerners congregate. Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.

U.S. citizens and interests may be at increased risk of terrorist actions from foreign or domestic extremist groups in the Philippines. There are periodic reports of plans for possible terrorist acts aimed at U.S. Government facilities or personnel, public and private institutions, and transportation carriers. The U.S. Embassy takes all such threats seriously. The State Department reminds all Americans traveling or living abroad of the need to remain vigilant with regard to personal security issues and to always follow basic and important security countermeasures: do not establish a pattern or routine in movement and travel; vary the times and routes taken to the extent possible; maintain a low profile; and immediately report any unusual activity, to include possible surveillance, to the Philippine Police and the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Travelers are also encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila at tel. (63) (2) 528-6300 for an update of the current security situation, especially if planning to travel outside the Metro Manila area. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime Information:

As in many of the major metropolitan areas in the United States, crime is a serious concern in Metro Manila. As a rule of thumb, Americans are advised to exercise good judgment and remain aware of their surroundings. Reports of confidence games, pick-pocketing and credit card fraud are common. Be wary of unknown individuals who attempt to befriend you, especially just after you have arrived in country. A number of recent robberies and assaults involving the "date rape drug" (known locally as Ativan) have occurred; the drug is generally administered to unwitting male and female visitors via food or drink. It is best not to accept food, drink or rides in private vehicles from strangers, even if they appear legitimate. There have been several kidnappings and violent assaults of foreigners in the Metro Manila area, although Americans have not been specifically targeted in such crimes. There have also been reports of gunmen robbing foreign passengers in vehicles traveling to and from the international airport.

Taxis are the recommended form of public transportation. However, the following safeguards are important: do not enter a taxi if it has already accepted another passenger; and, request that the meter be used. If the driver is unwilling to comply with your requests, it is best to wait for another cab. It is also a good idea to make a mental note of the license plate number should there be a problem. When driving in the city, make certain that the doors are locked and the windows rolled up. All other forms of public transportation, such as the light rail system, buses, and "jeepneys" should be avoided for both safety and security reasons.

Visitors should also be vigilant when using credit cards. One common form of credit card fraud involves the illicit use of an electronic device to retrieve and record information, including the PIN, from the card's magnetic strip. The information is then used to make unauthorized purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this scam, never let your card out of your sight.

A continuing problem is the commercial scam or sting that attempts to sell or to seek negotiation of, fraudulent U.S. securities. Visitors and residents should be wary when presented with supposed Federal Reserve Notes or U.S. securities for sale or negotiation. For further information, consult the Federal Reserve System's Web site at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/SRLETTERS/2003/sr0314.htm.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport in the Philippines should be reported immediately to the local police and to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. If you are the victim of a crime while in the Philippines, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy's American Citizen Services Unit. The Embassy staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

The Philippines has a victim compensation program to provide financial compensation to victims of violent or personal crime and of unjust imprisonment. Information may be obtained from the Philippine Department of Justice at 011-632-521-6264 or via the Internet at http://www.doj.gov.ph/.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Adequate medical care is available in major cities in the Philippines, but even the best hospitals may not meet the standards of medical care, sanitation, and facilities provided by hospitals in the United States. Medical care is limited in rural and more remote areas. Most hospitals will require a down payment of estimated fees in cash at the time of admission.

Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost several or even tens of thousands of dollars. A list of doctors and medical facilities in the Philippines is available on the web page of the U.S. Embassy in Manila at http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, please consult the World Heath Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Philippines is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Travel within the Philippine archipelago is possible by boat, plane, bus, or car. Few tourists rent a car to drive, as the road system is crowded and drivers are undisciplined. Driving off the national highways and paved roads is particularly dangerous, especially at night, and should be avoided. To avoid overcrowded or unsafe transport, exercise caution in planning travel by older, inter-island ferryboats, or other public conveyances.

For specific information concerning Philippine driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. at tel. (202) 467-9300 or one of the Philippine consulates in the United State (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco) or via the Internet at http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org. Please see also related information from the Philippine Department of Tourism at http://www.tourism.gov.ph and http://www.dotpcvc.gov.ph.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Philippine Government as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of the Philippines' air carrier operations.

Marriage in the Philippines:

The Philippine Government requires foreigners who wish to marry in the Philippines to obtain from the U.S. Embassy a "Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage" before filing an application for a marriage license. Because there is no national register of marriages in the United States, the U.S. Embassy cannot provide such a certification. As a result, the Philippine Government will accept an "Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage" in its place. Americans may execute this affidavit at the U.S. Embassy in Manila Monday-Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., except for Philippine or American holidays. The American must present his/her U.S. passport. There is a fee of $30.00 or its peso equivalent for the affidavit. Philippine authorities will not accept any substitute document issued in the United States. Before traveling to the Philippines to be married, U.S. military personnel should contact their personnel office regarding Department of Defense joint service regulations.

Execution of the affidavit by a U.S. consular officer is a notarial act and the consular officer is authorized by U.S. law to refuse to perform the service if the document will be used for a purpose patently unlawful, improper, or inimical to the best interests of the United States (see 22 C.F.R. section 92.9b). Entering into a marriage contract for the principal purpose of facilitating immigration to the United States for an alien is an unlawful act, and the U.S. Code provides penalties for individuals who commit perjury in an affidavit taken by a consular officer. Relationship fraud is a persistent problem in the Philippines, and it is not uncommon for Filipinos to enter into marriages with Americans solely for immigration purposes. Relationships developed via correspondence, particularly those begun on the Internet, are particularly susceptible to manipulation.

The Marriage Application Process:

Once an American citizen has obtained from the U.S. Embassy an "Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage," he/she may file an application for a marriage license at the office of the Philippine Civil Registrar in the town or city where one of the parties is a resident. The U.S. citizen applicant must present: (a) the affidavit; (b) divorce decree(s) or death certificate(s), if applicable (required to verify civil status and legal capacity to contract marriage); (c) his/her U.S. passport; and (d) documentation regarding parental consent or advice, if applicable. (Persons aged 18 to 21 must have written parental consent to marry in the Philippines; those aged 22 to 24 must have received parental advice. Philippine law prohibits marriage for persons under the age of 18.) A judge, a minister or other person authorized by the Philippine Government can perform the marriage.

Marriage to a U.S. citizen confers neither citizenship nor an automatic eligibility for entry to the United States. A foreign spouse requires an immigrant visa to live in the United States. Questions about filing a petition to bring a foreign spouse to the United States may be directed to the nearest U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service office, to the U.S. Department of State's Visa Office (telephone: (202) 663-1225) or, while in the Philippines, to the U.S. Embassy's Immigrant Visa Unit at http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

Disaster Preparedness:

The Philippines is a volcano-, typhoon- and earthquake-prone country. From May to December, typhoons and flash floods often occur. Flooding can cause road delays and cut off bridges. Typhoons in the vicinity of the Philippines can interrupt air and sea links within the country. Volcanic activity is frequent, and periodically the Philippine Government announces alerts for specific volcanoes. Earthquakes can also occur throughout the country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.

Customs:

Philippine customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from the Philippines of items such as firearms and currency. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, D.C. or one of the Philippine consulates in the United States (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco) for specific information regarding customs requirements. Counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available in the Philippines; transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.

Persons violating Philippines laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Philippines are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Capital punishment is possible for certain drug-related crimes. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Under the Protect Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to travel to a foreign country to engage in criminal sexual activity or to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country. It is important to note that under the new legislation, the act of illicit sexual conduct is sufficient to violate the law - the intent to travel for the purpose of engaging in the criminal sexual activity does not need to be proven. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct means: (1) a sexual act with a person under 18 years of age that would be illegal in the United States or (2) any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18.

The Bureau of Immigration arrests several Americans each year on immigration charges of "undesirability," sometimes based solely on complaints arising from personal or business disputes in the Philippines. Frequently, these detainees cannot be deported and/or released from custody until substantial fines are paid and any underlying criminal charges are resolved – a process that sometimes takes months or even years.

Fraud, swindling, and "bad debts" are also serious criminal offenses in the Philippines, as is the illegal recruitment of Philippine citizens for employment overseas. Several Americans are currently serving lengthy prison sentences for illegal recruitment activities. The Philippine Government also has strict laws against the possession of firearms, and several foreigners have been sentenced to life imprisonment for bringing firearms into the country. Americans who are arrested overseas should immediately ask to contact a U.S. Embassy representative.

Children's Issues:

Under Philippine law, the mother and father of a child are held to exercise parental control jointly, and child custody cases are considered civil disputes. Parental abduction is not a crime. The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For specific information on child custody cases in the Philippines, please consult the web page of the U.S. Embassy in Manila at http://philippines.usembassy.gov. For information on international adoption of children and international parental abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy and CONSULAR AgeNCY Location:

Americans living in or visiting the Philippines are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Philippines. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. (63)(2) 528-6300. The Consular American Citizen Services (ACS) section's fax number is (63) (2) 522-3242 and the ACS web page is at http://philippines.usembassy.gov.

The U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu provides limited services for U.S. citizens. The Consular Agency address is: Waterfront Hotel, Lahug, Cebu City, tel. (63) (32) 231-1261.

The Virtual Consulate Davao (http://www.usvirtualconsulatedavao.org.ph) provides targeted information and services of interest to Americans residing in or traveling to Davao. The Virtual Consulate supports email correspondence for queries from American citizens. Regularly scheduled "chat" sessions also allow Americans to interact in real time with the American Citizens Services personnel at the U.S. Embassy.

International Adoption

January 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

General:

The following is a guide for U.S. citizens who are interested in adopting a child in Philippines and applying for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. This process involves complex Philippine and U.S. legal requirements. U.S. consular officers give each petition careful consideration on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the legal requirements of Interested U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in Manila before formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed which will make it possible for the Embassy (Consulate) to issue a U.S. immigrant visa for the child.

Availability of Children for Adoption:

Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans:

FY-1996: IR-3 immigrant visas issued to Filipino orphans adopted abroad - 31; IR-4 immigrant visas issued to Filipino orphans adopted in the U.S. - 198
FY-1997: IR-3 visas - 19;
IR-4 visas - 144
FY-1998: IR-3 visas - 33;
IR-4 visas - 167
FY-1999: IR-3 visas - 28;
IR-4 visas - 167
FY-2000: IR-3 visas - 23;
IR-4 visas - 150

Philippine Adoption Authority:

The government office responsible for domestic adoptions in Philippines are the Regional Trial Courts, which issue the adoption decrees, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which is also involved in the legal proceedings. For the Inter-country adoptions, the offices responsible for adoption are the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB).

Philippine Adoption Procedures:

The adoption procedure differs depending on whether the U.S. citizen adoptive parents are residents in the Philippines or are permanently residing abroad.

In general during Inter-country adoptions, custody of the child is granted to the prospective adoptive parents who then bring the child to their home country. The adoption is filed with a court in the adoptive parents'' home country.

Domestic Adoption

  • Pre-Adoption Seminar: The Domestic Adoption Act provides that adoptive parents attend adoption seminars prior to the filing of the adoption application.
  • Application for Adoption: After completing the required pre-adoption seminars, the adoptive parents file the adoption application with the DSWD, a social service office of a local government unit, or a licensed and accredited child-placing agency.
  • Home study: The adoptive parents then make arrangements for a home study to be conducted by the DSWD or a child-placing agency.
  • Matching: Matching of the child to the adoptive parents is conducted by the DSWD.
  • Placement: The child is placed with the prospective adoptive parents once the pre-adoption placement authority has been issued. This period of custody is known as supervised trial custody.
  • Consent to Adoption: At the conclusion of the trial period, the DSWD issues its written consent to adoption.
  • Petition for adoption: Once the adoptive parents have received the consent to adopt, they must file an adoption petition with the Regional Trial Court within thirty days. Upon approval of the adoption, the court issues an adoption decree and enters a judgement.
  • Authorization to travel abroad: Once the adoption is final; the DSWD will issue written authorization for the child to travel abroad. The birth certificate of the child is also amended to reflect the names of the adoptive parents.

Inter-Country Adoption:

Any U.S. citizen permanently residing abroad may file an application for inter-country adoption.

  • Application: A U.S. citizen residing abroad and who is interested in adopting a child from the Philippines may file an application with ICAB. This application is filed through a U.S. adoption agency accredited by ICAB.
  • Child recommended for inter-country adoption: The DSWD recommends for inter-country adoption a child previously committed to the Philippine government. This recommendation certifies that inter-country adoption is in the best interest of the child.
  • Matching: The Inter-Country Adoption Placement Committee matches the child with a person or couple interested in adopting and refers its proposal back to ICAB for approval. Please note that the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995 specifically prohibits contact between the child and prospective adoptive parent (s) before such matching has been approved by the Board.
  • Placement Authority: The Inter-Country Adoption Board notifies the U.S. adoption agency of its matching decision within five days. The adoptive parents have 15 days to respond. If they agree to the proposed match, the Board issues a Placement Authority within five days. This placement authority allows the applicants to take custody of the child.
  • Application for immigrant Visa: The child appears at the U.S. Embassy for his/her immigrant visa interview. The Inter-Country Adoption Board serves as a proxy for the adoptive parents. ICAB prepares all the necessary documents and fees, including passport and medical exam.
  • Child travels to the United States: The Inter-Country Adoption Act requires the adoptive parent(s) to escort the child from the Philippines to the United States. The adoptive parents must arrive no later than thirty days after the immigrant visa has been issued.
  • Supervision of Trial Custody: Upon assuming custody of the child, the applicants enter a six-month trial period where the accredited U.S. adoption agency monitors the child's welfare.
  • Petition for Adoption: The U.S. citizen adoptive parent should file an adoption petition with a court in the United States within 6 months of the completion of the trial custody period.
  • Final Adoption Decree: The final U.S. adoption decree should be submitted to ICAB within one month of issuance.

Age and Civil Status Requirements:

For domestic adoption- the adoptive parent(s) must be at least sixteen years older than the child to be adopted. This requirement may be waived if the petitioner is the biological parent of the adoptee or the spouse of the adoptee's parent. For the inter-country adoption- the adoptive parent(s) must be at least 27 years old, as well as sixteen years older than the child to be adopted. The latter requirement may be waived if the petitioner is the biological parent of the adoptee or the spouse of the adoptee's parent. Single parents are eligible for both types of adoption. If an adoptive parent is married, however, he/she must file jointly with his/her spouse.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys:

Please review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family for details.

Doctors:

The U.S. Embassy maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems while in Philippines.

Philippine Documentary Requirements:

  • Home study conducted by a licensed and accredited social worker of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, social service office of the local government unit or accredited child-placing agency
  • Birth certificate of adoptive parent(s)
  • Marriage contract or divorce, annulment, declaration of nullity, or legal separation documents for the adoptive parent(s)
  • Written consent to the adoption by all children over the age of ten who are living with the petitioner
  • Physical and medical evaluation by a duly-licensed physician
  • Philippine National Bureau of Investigation police clearance
  • Latest income tax return or other documents showing financial capability
  • Three character references, namely from the local church/minister, the employer, and a non-relative member of the immediate community who have known the applicant for at least three years
  • 3×5-sized pictures taken within the last three years of the petitioner and his/her immediate family
  • Certificate of attendance of pre-adoption forums or seminars

Please note that U.S. citizens residing in the Philippines and adopting children while living in the Philippines are subject to additional requirements.

Residence Requirements:

A U.S. citizen interested in adopting a Filipino child while they are living in the Philippines must meet the following requirements:

  • Be resident in the Philippines for at least three years prior to the filing of the adoption petition and maintain such residence until the adoption decree is entered by a Philippine court
  • Possess a certification of legal capacity to adopt issued by a diplomatic or consular office or any appropriate government agency.
  • To fulfill the requirement for a certification of legal capacity to adopt, the Philippine government will generally accept an approved I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, I-600A Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan, or I-600 Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative.

The government may waive these requirements in the following cases:

  • A former Filipino citizen who seeks to adopt a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity, as defined under Philippine law
  • A person who seeks to adopt the legitimate son/daughter of his/her Filipino spouse; or
  • A person who is married to a Filipino and who seeks to adopt jointly with his/her spouse a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity, as defined under Philippine law.

U.S. citizens who are not resident in the Philippines and who are not eligible for a waiver of the above requirements may adopt orphan children only through the inter-country adoption process. Questions relating to inter-country adoption should be directed to:
The Philippine Inter-Country
Adoption Board (ICAB)
P.O. Box 1622
#2 Chicago Corner,
Ermin Garcia Streets
Barangay Pinagkaisahan, Cubao, Quezon City
The Philippines
Tel: 632-726-4568
Fax: 632-727-2026
E-mail: [email protected]

U.S. Immigration Requirements:

A Filipino child adopted by an American citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Philippine Embassy (and Consulates) in the United States:

Embassy of the Philippines
1600 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20086
Tel: 202-467-9300 202-467-9382
Fax: 202-328-7614 202-467-9417
E-mail: [email protected]

Philippines also has Consulates in Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; San Francisco, California; Saipan, MP; Tamuning, Guam; Chicago, Illinois, and Honolulu, Hawaii.

U.S. Embassy (and Consulate) in Manila:

U.S. Embassy Manila
1201 Roxas Blvd.
Ermita, Manila
Philippines
Tel: 632-523-1001
Fax: 632-522-4361
Web site: http://www.usembassy.state.gov/manila

The U.S. also has a consular agent in Cebu.

Additional Information:

Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult BCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions.

Questions:

Specific questions regarding adoption in Philippines may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Manila. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, Tel: 1-888-407-4747 with specific questions.

International Parental Child Abduction

January 2006

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

General Information:

The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the Philippines and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. Therefore, there is no treaty remedy by which the left behind parent would be able to pursue recovery of the child/ren should they be abducted to or wrongfully retained in the Philippines. Once in the Philippines, the child/ren would be completely subject to Philippine law for all matters including custody. The United States is not a party to any treaty or convention on the enforcement of court orders. A custody decree issued by a court in the U.S. has no binding legal force abroad, although it may have a persuasive force in some countries. Furthermore, a U.S. custody decree may be considered by foreign courts and authorities as evidence and, in some cases, foreign courts may voluntarily recognize and enforce it on the basis of comity (the voluntary recognition by courts of one jurisdiction of the laws and judicial decisions of another).

Custody Disputes:

Parental child abduction is not a crime under Philippine law. Custody disputes are considered civil legal matters that must be resolved between the concerned parties or through the courts in the Philippines. Philippine authorities advise the American Embassy that generally the Philippine courts will give custody of children under the age of seven to the mother, provided there is no evidence that would indicate that the mother is unfit to raise the child. Although there is no treaty in force between the United States and the Philippines on enforcement of judgments, the Philippine courts will also take into consideration child custody decrees issued by foreign courts in deciding disputes regarding children residing in the Philippines.

The American Citizen Services division of the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy can assist in locating children believed to be in the Philippines and in verifying the child's welfare. If a child is in danger or if there is evidence of abuse, consular officers will request assistance from the local authorities in safeguarding the child's welfare. Consular officers maintain lists of attorneys practicing in the particular areas of the Philippines, as well as general information regarding child custody practices.

For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov.

Deportation:

While there is an extradition treaty between the United States and the Philippines, parental child abduction is not an extraditable offense. However, if the taking parent is a U.S. citizen whose U.S. passport has been revoked due to an outstanding federal Unlawful Flight to avoid Prosecution (UFAP) warrant or indictment on charges of International Parental Kidnapping (IPKCA) in violation of 18 USC Section 1204, Philippine authorities may consider deportation based on lack of a valid travel document. Reaching the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that serves the Philippines: The U.S. Embassy in Manila is located at 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila City; tel. (63-2) 523-1001. The Consular American Citizen Services fax number is (63-2) 522-3242 and http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/rp1/wwwh3004.html.

Dual Nationality:

A child with a parent who was born outside of the U.S. or who has acquired a second nationality through naturalization in another country may have a claim to citizenship in that country. There is no requirement that a U.S. citizen parent consent to the acquisition by his/her child of another nationality and in many cases a parent is unaware that his/her child may have dual citizenship. The Embassy of the Philippines in Washington D.C. will be able to provide more detailed information on whether your child has a claim.

Criminal Remedies:

The Department of State is not a law enforcement agency. The Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs works with US prosecuting attorneys, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and with Interpol (an international police agency) in a joint cooperative effort to return persons charged with US crimes from foreign countries. Extradition of the abducting adult may not result in the return of the child. Foreign countries may refuse to extradite a person to the US if that person is also a citizen of the foreign country. Foreign countries may not recognize parental abduction as a crime. Please note that the extradition process applies only to the abducting adult/fugitive and not the child. The proper channel for the return of the child is through civil mechanisms or voluntary return arrangements. Additional information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org.

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children's Issues at 202-736-7000, visit the State Department website on the Internet at travel.state.gov.

Travel Warning

March 23, 2005

This Travel Warning is being issued to recommend that Americans consider carefully the risks of travel to the Philippines. Terrorist groups, including Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf Group, and radical elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are planning multiple attacks throughout the Philippines. This information has been also released by Philippine government officials and is in the Philippine media. This Travel Warning replaces the Public Announcement for the Philippines dated February 18, 2005.

The Department urges Americans who choose to travel to the Philippines to observe vigilant personal security precautions; to remain aware of the continued potential for terrorist attacks against Americans, U.S. or other Western interests in the Philippines, and to register with the U.S. Embassy. The Department warns against all but essential travel throughout the country in light of a heightened threat to Westerners. There has recently been an increase in bombings by the terrorist groups in Manila, the region of Mindanao, and other areas where terrorist groups are active. Bombs have exploded in shopping malls, on public transportation, at airports and port facilities, in places of worship, and in other public areas resulting in numerous casualties, including several deaths. Bombs have also been found at places of worship. Travelers should be aware that since security has increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists could seek softer targets. Such targets could include but are not limited to places where Americans and other Westerners live, congregate, shop or visit, including hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, identifiably Western businesses, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or public recreation events.

Americans who remain in the Philippines are strongly encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov. The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. 632-528-6300. The Consular American Citizen Services (ACS) section's fax number is 632-522-3242 and the ACS web page is at http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/rp1/wwwhmain.html.

Americans can obtain information on travel and security in the Philippines from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States; or 202-501-4444 from overseas.

US citizens should also consult the recent Public Announcement for the Philippines, the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for the Philippines and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, located at http://travel.state.gov/ to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Philippines.

views updated

Philippines

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of the Philippines
Region: Southeast Asia
Population: 81,159,644
Language(s): Pilipino, English
Literacy Rate: 94.6%
Academic Year: June-March
Number of Primary Schools: 38,631
Compulsory Schooling: 6 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 3.4%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 4,864
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 12,159,495
  Secondary: 4,979,795
  Higher: 2,022,106
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 114%
  Secondary: 77%
  Higher: 29%
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 35:1
  Secondary: 32:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 113%
  Secondary: 78%
  Higher: 33%



History & Background

The Republic of the Philippines consists of 7,107 tropical islands on the Western rim of the Pacific Ocean. Only 4,600 of the islands have been named and only 1,000 have been inhabited. Although the total area of the country is 300,000 square kilometers, the islands are 65 percent mountainous. The inhabited portions are densely populated.

The Philippines is the thirteenth most populated country in the world. The country's capital of Metro Manila has a population of well over ten million people. The Filipinos, are the strongest assets of the country. With the country's literacy rate at 95 percent, the Philippine manpower provides a large pool of English-speaking, well educated, and highly trainable workforce with recognized management, computer, and design skills. The Philippines came in first in a survey of Asian countries on literacy conducted by Asiaweek in 1996. In a similar survey of 46 countries, Filipino skilled workers ranked first while Filipino managers were ranked second among their counterparts. Analysts maintain that it will take other emerging countries of Southeast Asia, a generation to reach the educational advantage of the Filipinos especially for the production of high quality technological products. There are an estimated 4.5 million Filipinos working overseas. In 1997, they sent US$4.5 billion back home. These foreign remittances have helped the Philippines weather the Asian financial crisis better than other affected Asian countries.

Eleven languages and 87 dialects are spoken in the country. Of these 11 languages, 8 are derived from the Malay-Polynesian language family. No two of these are mutually comprehensible. The country has two official languages, Filipino (derived from Tagalog) and English.

As far back as 30,000 years ago, the Aetas (aboriginal people of the Philippines) arrived through land bridges that connected the archipelago to other landmasses. A 22,000-year-old fossil skullcap was discovered in the Tabon caves of Palawan by archeologist Robert Fox. A document dating back to 900 A.D. was discovered at Laguna, Philippines. Mention was made in the document of names of places that exist to the present.

Trade occurred between the tenth and the sixteenth centuries, mostly with the Chinese and Islamic people. These two groups have remained and continue to influence the Filipino culture, including the educational system.

As evidence of the high level of pre-Hispanic culture, native literature is illustrated by the Ilocano (language spoken in Northern Luzon) ballad-epic narrating the life and bravery of Lam-ang in his conquest of the various indigenous groups in the main island of Luzon. Education, of an informal type, was taught during the years prior to the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. An oral tradition was handed down from generation to generation, in the form of poetry, ballads, songs, and dances. Oral literature carried through the ages show an informal and unstructured form of education, including training. Songs, poetry, dances, whether they be religious, festive, heroic, folk, seasonal, or about harvest, love, or war, represent high aspects of a culture. Parents and tribal tutors most likely provided the oral tradition, instruction, and other vocational training.

On March 16, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan arrived and claimed the islands for Spain's king, Charles I. His claim was the forerunner of over three centuries of Spanish colonization of the Philippines.

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the inhabitants of the archipelago were literate and had their own system of writing that they used for communication. This writing system is often erroneously referred to as Alibata (the first three letters of the Maguindanao version of the Arabian alphabet: alif, ba, ta). It is more properly named Baybayin, which in Filipino means "to spell." Baybayin has seventeen basic symbols, three of which are vowel sounds. This writing system was used extensively by the inhabitants of the islands, as witnessed by the Spanish upon their arrival. Father Pedro Chirino, a Jesuit chronicler and historian for Miguel de Legazpi (an explorer and the first royal governor of the islands), reports in Relaciones de las Islas Filipinas that when he arrived in the islands in 1565, all the islanders, both men and women, were reading and writing. Another witness and recorder of this fact was Antonio Morga, the Senior Judge Advocate of the High Court of Justice and Commander of the galleon warship San Diego. He noted in Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas that almost all the natives, men and women alike, wrote in the Baybayin language and that there were few who did not write it excellently or correctly.

When the Spanish found that the islanders were educated and literate, the missionaries among them published several books to propagate the Catholic religion among the islanders. The Tagalog Doctrina Christiana (1593) and its Chinese version, based on the catechism teachings of Cardinal Bellarmino, were released a couple of months apart. In 1610, the first Filipino author Tomas Pinpin published a book in Baybayin entitled Librong pagaaralan nang mga Tagalog ng uicang Castila (Book for Tagalogs to Study the Castillian Language). Clearly, the title of the book indicates that education, whether formal or informal, was taking place during this period. In 1620, a fourth book was published. Father Francisco Lopez produced an Ilocano version of the Doctrina Cristiana (spelling changed from the 1593 version) using the Baybayin language. Between 1620 and 1895, this book was reprinted several times. The Baybayin language can still be observed since a form of it is still in use by two indigenous Filipino groups, the Mangyans of the island of Mindoro and the Tagbanuas in the island of Palawan.

The origins of the Baybayin language are unknown, but various theories abound. The Mainland Origin Hypothesis by Peter Belwood stipulates that the language originated from South China and Taiwan. The Island Origin Hypothesis by Wilhelm Solheim suggests that the language originated in the islands of northern Indonesia and Mindanao and then spread northwards. Another theory by David Diringer states that the language derived from Kavi or old Javanese. Fletcher Gardner suggests that the writings came directly from Indian priests who were familiar with the Brahms scripts.

During the entire period of Spanish rule, education was controlled by the Catholic Church. In the place of tribal tutors, Spanish friars and missionaries educated the natives through religion. Upon their arrival, their main goals were to govern the islands, obtain a foothold in the spice trade, and to convert indigenous populations to the Catholic faith. The early friars learned the Baybayin script to allow for better communication with the islanders, particularly in the religious aspect. Religious education then took place using this language. By royal decree the friars were required to teach the Spanish language to the natives, but this was not enforced. This suppression of literacy in the language of the administration kept the inhabitants in ignorance and in subservience for more than 300 years. From 1565 to 1863, there was no specific system of instruction. Worse still, the Baybayin script was replaced by the Roman alphabet since using this gave the indigenous people more leverage dealing with the local Spanish colonial administrators. The Baybayin script was neglected and was not used by succeeding generations.

The San Carlos University was founded in Cebu in 1595. It was initially called the Colegio de San Ildefonso. On April 28, 1611, the University of Santo Tomas was founded in Manila. These universities, along with secondary education schools, were used mainly for Spanish locals.

In 1863, some 342 years after Magellan first arrived in the Philippine islands, Spain promulgated the Education Decree, stipulating compulsory primary education in the Philippines. Education served mainly for catechism purposes. Spanish was used as the language of instruction. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, some 200,000 students (all levels) were in school.

Although secondary and higher education were made available to the local inhabitants by virtue of the 1863 Education Decree, it was only the ilustrados (wealthy locals) who could afford to send their children to study. Some of them even ventured to Europe to complete their studies. This access to higher education and exposure to the liberal trends in Europe crystallized the idea of fighting for independence in the minds of the ilustrados. The education of the ilustrados indirectly fuelled the nationalist spirit of the locals toward a reform movement, and consequently a revolution against Spain.

The Education Decree of 1863 provided for two parts: first, the establishment of at least two free primary schools, one for boys and another for girls, in each town under the control of the municipal government; and second, the creation of a normal school to train men as teachers, supervised by the Jesuits. The teaching of Spanish was compulsory. On June 12, 1898, the revolutionary movement headed by Emilio Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain. Even before the Philippine islands were ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris, the revolutionaries had already drafted the main principles of the Malolos Constitution written mainly by Apolinario Mabini in his Constitution Program for the Republic published in July 1898. The Malolos Constitution mandated a free and compulsory system of elementary education. Three other schools of higher learning were established by this constitution: The Burgos Institute of Malolos; the Military Academy of Malolos; and the Literary University of the Philippines. Tagalog was the language used and taught at all levels during the revolution.

On December 10, 1898, the Treaty of Paris was signed. It stipulated that the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico be ceded to the United States in exchange for the sum of US$20 million. The people of the Phillipines were not consulted regarding this matter and were outraged. The brutal Philippine-American war ensued. Approximately 250,000 Filipinos died in the war in less than three years. Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans on March 23, 1901, and swore allegiance to the United States.

The first decade of American rule in the Philippines witnessed a marked improvement in education. The First Philippine Commission, also known as the Schurman Commission (created on January 20, 1899), was appointed by President McKinley of the United States. Schurman, previously the president of Cornell University, recommended a system of free public elementary schools as a major component of his report to the president. The Second Philippine Commission (the Taft Commission) on March 16, 1900, enforced this recommendation. Under the leadership of William Howard Taft, free primary education became the method by which locals were instructed of their duties as citizens. English became the language of instruction since most of the teachers were non-commissioned American military officers and military chaplains. From September 1900 to August 1902, the Taft Commission issued 499 laws, one of those being Act No. 74 which took effect on January 21, 1901. Through Act No. 74, a centralized public school system was installed under the Department of Public Instruction.

The creation of a public school system resulted in a shortage of instructors. The Taft Commission, through the Secretary of Public Instruction authorized the importation of teachers from the United States. More than one thousand American educators arrived in the Philippines from 1901 to 1902. Most of them arrived in the ship S.S. Thomas, thus their reputation as Thomasites. This marked a blossoming of education from only about 150,000 students enrolled in 1901 to about one million in primary schools after two decades. This total raised to over two million students in all levels by 1941. The Department of Public Instruction also created the Philippine Normal School to train more teachers. In 1902, the Second Philippine Commission also established a high school system supported by provincial governments. Other institutions of learning were established: special education; marine institute; school of arts and trades; agricultural; and commerce schools.

America's democratic emphasis on public, nonreligious education of the masses was quite a contrast to the Spanish educating only the elite in a system completely under the control of the Catholic Church. Education, the American way, became instilled into the Filipinos as a chance for upward social mobility. For the Filipino, earning a diploma ensures a good job and acceptance in society with a chance for a better future. Despite the initial friction between the mostly Protestant American teachers and the Catholic Filipinos, the American system of education prevailed. All through this tumultuous period, the institutions of learning created during the Spanish period (San Carlos University and the University of Santo Tomas) continued to offer degree programs. Act No. 1870 of the Philippine Legislature in 1908 established the first baccalaureate degree granting institution, the University of the Philippines. Like the other institutions of higher education in the Philippines, the organization of this university was European in style, but the language of instruction was English.

In 1916, during the governorship of Francis Harrison, the United States Congress passed the Second Organic Law, more frequently referred to as the Jones Act. This Act replaced the 1902 First Organic Law and was a reorganization act providing for rapid Filipinization of the government. The entire cabinet, other than the Department of Public Instruction, was composed of Filipinos. The legislative branch also came under Filipino control. Nine years after the Jones Law, a committee headed by Paul Monroe surveyed the state of education and found a very problematic and disappointing scenario. The problems included inadequate textbooks, poor budgetary/finance situations, a lack of trained educators, and high dropout and failure rates. In 1934, the U.S. Congress passed legislation for the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. It took effect in 1935. The new Commonwealth was provided with a transition period of ten years before full independence was achieved.

The Commonwealth government passed the Education Act of 1940, but this did not solve much of the problems still plaguing the Department of Public Instruction. As Filipino officials practiced self-governance, World War II suddenly ensued. The Japanese launched a surprise attack on the Philippines on December 8, 1941, merely ten hours after Pearl Harbor. On June 11, 1942, the Japanese Executive Commission issued Military Order No. 2, renaming the Department of Public Instruction into the Commission of Education, Health, and Public Welfare. In 1943, the Japanese-sponsored Philippine Republic created the Ministry of Education. The Japanese emphasized dignity of labor and love for work. Philippine History, Character Education, and the Filipino language were some of the classes permitted by the Japanese regime for Filipino students. Despite efforts by the Japanese to maintain public education, the education of the young Filipinos was disrupted by this war. In 1944, close to the end of the Japanese regime, the Ministry of Education, Health, and Public Welfare was again renamed to the Department of Public Instruction.


Constitutional & Legal Foundations


The Philippine traditional value of stressing the importance of education has been codified and incorporated into the constitutions and laws of the country. The first Philippine constitution, or the 1899 Constitution (also called the Malolos Constitution), expressly provided in Article 23 of Title IV that "public education shall be free and obligatory in all schools of the nation." Section 5 Article XIV of the 1935 Constitution, which was enacted for the Commonwealth government, stated that the "Government . . . shall provide at least free primary instruction, and citizenship training to adult citizens." The provision for free public elementary education was retained under the 1943 Constitution adopted by the Provisional government during World War II. This was carried over to the 1973 Constitution that took effect during the regime of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The 1987 Constitution took effect during the presidential term of Corazon Aquino. Several significant provisions on education were embodied in this constitution. Public elementary education was declared to be free and compulsory. Public high school and secondary education were also to be provided for free. Moreover, it was categorically stated in Section 5(5) of Article XIV that the "State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment."

The constitutional provisions on education are creditable considering that the various constitutions of the Philippines have been forged during times when the nation was on the verge of crucial political changes. When the 1899 Constitution was written, the Philippines was embroiled in the Philippine-American War. The 1935 Constitution was written when the Philippines was poised for independence from the United States of America. The 1943 Constitution occurred when Japan occupied the Philippines during World War II. By that time, the Filipinos were fighting for independence against a third foreign colonial power in less than fifty years. When the 1973 Constitution was declared ratified, the dictatorship of Marcos was in full swing. He and his cronies had engineered political and civil unrest to justify the declaration of Martial Law and the indefinite extension of his term in power. Marcos was ousted during the peaceful EDSA Revolution of 1986. The 1987 Constitution was drafted as the country struggled to recover from three decades of Marcos' economic plunder and dictatorship. Political stability has not gained an enduring foothold in the Philippines. The term of office of President Aquino was marked by several attempted coups d'état.

The next president, Fidel V. Ramos, forged peace with the Muslims in the Southern part of the country and brought economic growth. However, his accomplishments were curtailed by his successor, Joseph Estrada. Estrada was elected into the presidency by popular vote in 1998. Conflicts with the Muslims re-ignited after the Muslims kidnapped Filipino citizens and foreigners. Allegations of corruption on a massive scale were filed against Estrada in October 2000. Confidence in his leadership quickly eroded as government officials, prominent political leaders, the military, and his cabinet successively called for his resignation. The people again took to the streets in peaceful protest. In January 2001, he resigned his post and handed the reigns of government to his Vice-President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. An impeachment trial was ongoing when he resigned. Political instability dramatically and adversely affected education. Economic adversity quietly caused systemic educational instability.

Despite the categorical affirmation in the 1987 Constitution for the State to assign the highest budgetary priority to education, this was not followed. The economic plunder of the country by some of its leaders and their cohorts (both Filipino and foreign) left the Philippines with a huge foreign debt that amounted to over US$45 billion in 1997. Annual interest payments alone exceeded US$4.5 billion. Deficits in needed classrooms, textbooks, and salaried teacher positions have accumulated over the years. As of April 2000, the public education system had a deficiency of 37,000 classrooms, 10 million textbooks, 29,000 salaried teacher positions, and 2.6 million desks. These backlogs were not met and spilled over to the succeeding school years. Despite the desperate need for more textbooks, classrooms, teachers, and learning materials, debt servicing takes up the bulk of the fiscal budget every year.


Educational SystemAn Overview

Three government organizations handle education in the Philippines. These are the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). In 1999, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, which governs both public and private education in all levels, stated that its mission was "to provide quality basic education that is equitably accessible to all by the foundation for lifelong learning and service for the common good." The Department also stipulated its vision to "develop a highly competent, civic spirited, life-skilled, and God-loving Filipino youth who actively participate in and contribute towards the building of a humane, healthy and productive society." All these ambitions were embodied in the development strategy called "Philippines 2000."

The academic year in the Philippines is patterned after its wet/cool and dry/hot seasons. The hottest months of the year are from March to May, thus making them the "summer break." The wet season starts in June, which also marks the beginning of the academic school year. Beginning 1993, DECS increased the number of school days from 185 to 200. The school year ends during the first few weeks of March. The Philippines, a Catholic country, has a two- to three-week break during Christmas in December and a four- to five-day break at the start of November to celebrate the Day of the Saints and the Day of the Dead.

The language of instruction has been a much debated topic. For a country dispersed over 7,107 islands, with 11 languages and 87 dialects, colonized by Spain for more than 300 years, and educated by the Americans, the decision to pick a particular language of instruction has been very controversial. The languages used for instruction have switched from Spanish to Tagalog, to English to the local vernacular, including some Chinese languages, and Arabic, which is used in the southern part of the country.

According to an official publication of the U.S. Library of Congress, the Philippine census reported that during the 1990s a total of 65 percent of Filipinos understood English. During the last four decades of the twentieth century, education in all levels had vastly improved. In the compulsory elementary level, from 1965-1966, there were a total of 5.8 million students enrolled, 4.5 percent of which were in private institutions. In 1987-1988 these numbers grew to 9.6 million enrolled, 6.6 percent of which were in private schools. By school year 1999-2000, 12.6 million were enrolled with 7.1 percent in the private sector. This level is for grades 1 through 6ages 7 to 12. The various Philippine grade levels are referred to with cardinal numbers (one, two, three) rather than ordinal numbers (first, second, third). Secondary education is taught for 4 years from ages 13 to 16.

Primary and secondary schools are taught from Monday to Friday, starting at 7:30 A.M. The school day begins with a flag raising, national anthem, and pledge of allegiance. Students usually have an hour for lunch. School cafeterias are mostly non-existent and those that exist are largely inadequate. Students either go home for lunch or pack their lunch. Some parents, usually mothers, come to school to bring warm lunch for their children. Classes resume for the afternoon, until about 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. In some areas, due to lack of facilities, certain schools are forced to have double shifts, minimizing the hours children spend in school.

Access has been a problem for certain sectors of the population and DECS has made this the number one priority. In the secondary level for 1965-1966, approximately 1.17 million students were enrolled with 62.3 percent in the private sector. In 1987-1988, there was a total of 3.49 million students enrolled, 40.8 percent of whom were in private schools. By 1999-2000 there was an overall total of 5.1 million students, with 24 percent in private schools.

Higher education in the Philippines is strongly in the private sector. Most bachelor degrees are for four years. Students are usually from 17 to 20 years old. In 1985, the private sector of higher education was close to 80 percent of the student population. Of these institutions one-third are considered non-profit, while two-thirds function for monetary gain. This has lead to the reputation of certain schools as "diploma mills" and to the more serious problem of producing unqualified, unemployed, and underemployed graduates.

During the 1970s, there was a wide discrepancy in the literacy rates of the various regions of the country. The capital region of Metro Manila had a 95 percent literacy rate; the Central Luzon area had a 90 percent literacy rate while the Western portion of Mindanao had a 65 percent rate. Three principal indigenous languages in the Manila area are Cebuano in the Visayas, Tagalog and Ilocano in the northern portion of Luzon. In 1939 Philipino (which is based on the Tagalog language) was made the national language. Philipino later evolved to Filipino which is based on the languages used in the Philippines. English still remains the most important non-indigenous language used by media, higher education, private, primary and secondary schools, government administration, and business. Only a handful of families have maintained speaking in Spanish. The multiplicity of languages used in the Philippines has not affected its literacy rate of 94.6 percent, one of the highest in East Asia and the Pacific region.

Technology use is starting to gain momentum in the overall education of the Philippines. In 1999, there were 93 Internet Service Providers (ISP) in the country. By the beginning of 2001, the participation of nongovernmental organizations and the private sector in education was evident with the donation of 1,000 personal computers for use during school year 2001-2002 in 1,000 public high schools of 16 regions. The program, called One Thousand PCs, has four major components, namely: curriculum development with the creation of a one year course on computer education as a specialization in entrepreneurship; teacher training for recipient schools; courseware development through the creation of Information Technology materials; and the purchase of hardware from the private sector through the Adopt-A-School Program. The Department of Trade and Industry chaired this project.

Curricular development is under the jurisdiction of the DECS. Authority slowly trickled down to the municipal/local levels as the system shifted to decentralize decision-making and empower local schools. Despite these efforts, much of the important decisions, such as the purchase of all public school textbooks, is done by DECS.

Important curricular changes needed to respond to emerging student needs are limited due to budgetary constraints. Three tests are administered to students, the preparation for which must be addressed through further curricular development. These tests are the National Elementary Aptitude Test (NEAT), the National Secondary Aptitude Test (NSAT), and the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE).

The Philippine population grows at a rate of 2.07 percent per year. In July 2000, the estimated population was 81,159,644 people. About 37 percent of this population was from birth to 14-years-old. A 2 percent yearly population growth translates to about 1.6 million children born every year. This growth rate strains the resources of the educational system. During 1999-2000, a 2 percent increase in the number of students meant 8,000 more classrooms needed. The deficit was 29,000 since DECS was able to build only 6,000 new rooms for the year. More teachers required (total lack of 21,000 since the budget allowed for hiring only 4,700 new teachers) 400,000 more desks (of the 2.2 million needed, only 500,000 were purchased) and 10 million additional textbooks with a ratio of 2 students per book. To alleviate this strain, certain schools hold double sessions (one in the morning and another in the afternoon) in elementary schools. Some high schools even have triple sessions due to space and resource problems.

As for gender distribution in the elementary level, male and female students are almost equally represented, while there are more females students at the secondary and higher education level. In rural areas, men are expected to do work while women are allowed to pursue education. Males have a higher rate of failure, dropout, and repetition in both elementary and secondary levels.


Preprimary & Primary Education

Preprimary and primary educational matters are handled by the Bureau of Elementary Education (BEE), under DECS. Preprimary is available in the Philippines for children below the age of six. From age three to five, students first attend nursery school, and then they attend kindergarten. Most private schools offer these programs, particularly in religious schools. Several Montessori schools are available. The Philippine Education for All Assessment Report 2000, an independent evaluation of the education system from 1991 to 2000, stated that the preprimary services had reached only 19.5 percent of the 11.5 million children aged zero to six.

There was, however, an 82 percent increase in the number of public day-care centers from 1993 to 1999. This translates to 32,787 centers. These constructed daycare centers had been able to reach less than half of the 3.2 million who had to have preprimary care by the year 2000.

Six years of primary education is compulsory and is provided free of charge in public schools. In 1998, almost 30 percent of grade 1 entry-age children entered school, an increase of 10 percent since the equivalent rate in 1990 was 20 percent.

The Philippine Education for All Assessment Report of 2000 also stated that a "huge population of children were either over-aged or under-aged for grade one." Families were postponing the education of young children as girls were often asked to take care of younger siblings, and together with boys, help in livelihood.

The number one priority of BEE has been to make primary education accessible for all qualified students. This goal has been met successfully. Some 95 percent of children from ages six to twelve attend primary school. The Early Childhood Development Project (ECDP) is a six-year (1998-2004) joint project of three departments: DECS, the Department of Health, and the Department of Social Welfare. The program, aimed at children under six, shares responsibility for preparing a child for elementary education by providing an eight-week refresher course for grade one entrants in their first two-month-stay in school.

For the school year 2000-2001, DECS projects that 12.75 million students will enroll in primary school. In 1992-1993, there were 34,944 schools, of these 1,974 were private. There were 39,342 elementary schools in 1999-2000, a total of 3,555 of which were private schools serving 7.17 percent of the student body. The gross teacher-pupil ratio was 1:34. The percentage of students passing the NEAT was 76.54 percent.

From 1992 to 2000, the participation rate increased from 85.21 percent to 96.95 percent. Unfortunately dropout rates for the same years also increased from 6.65 percent to 9.38 percent. As of 2000, a total of 4,710 barangays (similar to communities) did not have an elementary school. Performance indicators, key indicators computed to evaluate the system's performance at various levels, show that participation rate has improved from 85.21 percent in 1992-1993 to 96.95 percent in 1999-2000. Completion rate for these same years increased from 66.59 percent to 68.06 percent.

The National Elementary Aptitude Test (NEAT) was first taken by primary students during the 1993-1994 school year, with 55 percent of students passing (50 percent or higher). By 1998-1999, the passing rate was 73.21 percent.

The main mission of the Bureau of Elementary Education is to provide access, progress, and quality in primary education. This body not only formulates key programs but also implements and supervises the varied projects that will eventually enable every citizen "to acquire basic preparation that will make him an enlightened, disciplined, nationalistic, self-reliant, God-loving, creative, versatile, and productive member of the national community." Filipino is used to teach such subjects as Work Education, Physical Education, Social Studies, Health Education, and Character Education. English is used in all mathematics and science classes.

For the school year 2000-2001, BEE had a number of projects and programs: the Multigrade Program in Philippine Education (MPPE) was designed to improve access to and provide quality elementary education through the opening of complete multigrade classes and completion of incomplete schools in remote barangays. MPPE projects included Multigrade Demo Schools Projects (MDSP), Pupil Learning Enhancement Program (PLEP), Little Red School House Project (LRSP), and the Integrated Curriculum for Multigrade Classes (IC-MG).

One of the projects was called the Early Childhood Development Project (ECDP). It outlined the broad policy directions for the State to pursue for Filipino children under six-years-old.

The Preschool Service Contracting Program was another program used by BEE. Preschool classes were organized in the 5th and 6th municipalities and urban poor areas, and were provided preschool experiences for 6 months by private preschool providers.

The SPED Personnel Enhancement Program offered short term summer/semester courses, seminar or training workshops, and national conferences done year round. This program was primarily aimed at honing the capabilities of regular and SPED teachers, administrators, supervisors, and other service providers.

The Resource Materials Development for Children with Special Needs (CSNs) was another important project. It dealt with the development and production of various resource and instructional materials, which included textbooks in braille and in large print, Handbook on Inclusive Education, Reference or Guide Materials for Teachers of Children with Learning Disabilities, Learning Competencies for the Gifted in Grades one to three, and Enrichment materials in six learning areas including Computer Education.

Another BEE program was called the Early Intervention Program for Children with Disabilities. This program focused on the training of SPED teachers and social workers as facilitators to provide parents and other community volunteers with knowledge and skills on educational intervention that should be given to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers under age 6 who are disabled or those with developmental delays.

Standards for Quality Elementary Education (SQEE) was another program utilized by BEE. It generated competency standards for the workforce in all levels of elementary education.

In response to the Social Reform Agenda (SRA) of the Philippine government, funded in part by loans from the World Bank, the Third Elementary Education Program (TEEP) was created. According to the World Bank (WB), TEEP would address areas of weakness in the primary education system such as decentralization of authority to local government units, increase the participation rate from nongovernmental organizations such as parents' associations, private business, and the community at large. The Philippines has not had a strong history of parental associations in the educational system set-up. Despite the great start of this project, the WB stated that caution was needed since the project had a "high-risk, high-reward approach." The BEE cited the main objectives of TEEP as being quality education, capacity for change, and maximizing community and local government roles.

The Social Reform Agenda of the Philippine Government had initially targeted twenty under-served provinces for TEEP, while the Presidential Commission to Fight Poverty added six more. Poverty in these provinces is more acute, with 60 percent of the population below the poverty level. The project will be implemented in 3 batches: Batch 1 (2000-2003), six pilot provinces, namely Ifugao, Benguet, Antique, Guimaras, Agusan del Sur, and Surigao del Sur; Batch 2 (2003-2006), eight provinces, namely Romblon, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Leyte, Biliran, Zamboanga del Sur, and North Cotabato; and Batch 3 (2000-2006), twelve provinces, namely, Abra, Mt. Province, Kalinga Apayao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, Batanes, Aurora, Capiz, Eastern Samar, and Basilan.

The TEEP's loan of funds from the World Bank (WB) was approved by its board in November 1996 and had a project span date starting July 2, 1997, until June 30, 2004. In 1998, the Quality Assurance Group Risk of the WB rated the project's progress as "non-risky" and the Operations Evaluation Department's Quality at Entry Rating was "highly satisfactory." Both its latest Development Objectives Supervision Rating and Latest Implementation Progress Supervision Rating were rated "satisfactory."

While 90 percent of Filipinos are Christian (83 percent Catholic), 5 percent of the population is Muslim (Moslem). The Muslim population is concentrated in the Southern island of Mindanao. The Mindanao Basic Education Development Project, which lasts from 2000 to 2007, is particularly geared to provide an educational system suited to the diverse culture and needs of the children and youth learners in Mindanao. English and Filipino are used as the media of instruction for primary school, beginning with the first grade. The local vernacular may be used as an auxiliary language of instruction, but must be used only when neither English nor Filipino could be used for full comprehension of certain concepts.


Secondary Education


Governance of the four-year high school education falls under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Secondary Education (BSE) of DECS. Although secondary education is provided free in public schools, participation rate has been inferior in comparison to primary education. In 1965-1966, there were 1,173,000 students in secondary education, a majority of which was in private schools (731,000 or 62.3 percent). In 1987-1988, there were 3,494,460 students with 1,404,387 or 40.8 percent in private schools. In 1992-1993, participation rate was 56.76 percent, with 5,757 total schools (2,285 private) and the total enrollment was 4,450,000 students (1,520,000 in private schools). There were 125,142 teachers (39,822 private). The gross teacher-student ratio was 1:36. The dropout rate was 7 percent. In 1993-1994, 75 municipalities had no high school facilities available. By 1999-2000, there were 5,160,000 students with 1,240,000 being in private schools. The teacher-student ratio was 1:35. By this time, only five municipalities did not have high school facilities. The National Secondary Aptitude test was first implemented in 1994-1995, where the passing rate was 77.32 percent. By 1998-1999, a total of 94.76 percent passed.

BSE has a Curriculum Development Division which coordinates and implements research projects on curriculum changes and innovations. There is also the Staff Development Division for the training and development of teachers, administrators, and staff of the bureau. The Population Education Unit is geared to provide high school students a better grasp of population related issues to enable them to make sound and responsible decisions.

In 1993, DECS formulated a Manual of Information on Secondary Education of the Philippines where it specifies its missions, goals, and functions. The secondary education mission statement was: "to determine a complete, adequate and integrated system of education, both formal and nonformal; to supervise and regulate appropriately all educational institutions; and to develop and promote culture and sports in order to prepare the present and the next generation for life." Briefly stated, it is four specific goals covering the areas of broad general education, training in middle level skills, developing for improving the quality of human life, and responding to the changing needs and conditions of the nation. The manual lists the functions of secondary education in three major aspects which are: formulation of policies, plans, and projects; the supervision of all public and private institutions; and the maintenance of a complete, adequate, and integrated system of education relevant to the goals of national development.

During the beginning of 2001, BSE had 12 active projects and a flagship 6-year program (SEDIP).

Adopt-a-school was a partnership between school and industry to maximize provisions of the resources to public schools. In February 2001, this program was able to procure one thousand PCs for one thousand facilities in sixteen regions nationwide along with provisions to train one teacher in each facility to use and implement technology applications to learning.

Balik-Paaralan sa (Out-of-School Adults (BP-OSA, Back-to-School for Out-of-School Adults) was another project of BSE. As of the beginning of 2001, there are 31 high schools serving some 1,381 adult students in this project.

Another project was Community Service and Public Safety Training (CS-PST). This curriculum relevance project was tested in six private and public schools in the underserved regions of Central Visayas and Southern Mindanao.

Government Assistance to Student and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) was a project utilized by BSE. It was a contract between government and private schools that allowed students who were unable to attend the free public secondary schools to enroll in private schools. In January 1999, there were 374,918 student beneficiaries in 1,122 participating schools for the Education Service Contracting and 162,966 recipients of Tuition Fee Supplements in 638 schools.

Home-Partnership Program (HPP), Population Education Program (PEP) and Population Education Information Network (POPEDIN) were inter-related programs dealing with the topics such as population education and the more delicate topic of adolescent reproductive health.

Another project of BSE was Indigenization/Localization of the Secondary Education Curriculum. This project dealt with the contextualization of the curriculum within the local culture.

Project Effective and Affordable Secondary Education (EASE) was a project that targeted students in disadvantaged situations who were unable to attend regular sessions. EASE provided a temporary study-at-home solution until the student was able to return to the formal classroom setting.

Another BSE project was the Revitalized Homeroom Guidance Program (RHGP). It was a counseling program where school staff members and teachers were given a week-long training to better match students in their aptitude and career interests.

School-Based Education was another project used by BSE. It was a form of self-evaluation by schools, which was initiated, planned, and administered by the principal and the teachers themselves.

Another project was the Self-Instructional Packages in the Social Reform Agenda Provinces. It provided materials to discourage students from dropping out due to poverty/illness. Teacher Training Programs was another BSE project. It was geared mostly to train teachers in science and technology.

Thinking Skills Development for Maximized Cognitive Performance (TSD-MCP) was a program that was initiated in six schools to research and develop steps to improve student cognitive and thinking skills.

In 1983-1984, DECS launched the Program for Decentralized Education (PRODED) for elementary education to modify the curriculum and put emphasis on science, technology, math, reading, and writing. As a follow-up to this, the New Secondary Education Curriculum (NSEC) was implemented in 1989 to replace the 1973 Revised Secondary Education Program (RSEP). NSEC is a major part of the Secondary Education Development Program (SEDP) to bring PRODED into the High School system, to improve quality of graduates, and to expand access to quality education. NSEC brings forth a student-centered, community-oriented style of education where Values Education is incorporated into the teaching of other subject areas.

The eight subject areas are English, Filipino, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science and Technology, Physical Education, Health, and Music (PEHM), Technology and Home Economics, and Values Education. Four years of secondary education is required by most of the higher institutions. Philippine secondary education is composed of academic and vocational curricula. A curriculum for secondary schools introduced in 1989 made Filipino the language of instruction for all subjects except mathematics and sciences. The mathematics curriculum was also changed by the 1993 NSEC. The 1973 Revised Secondary Education Program (RSEP) required that areas of mathematics be taught in yearlong discipline based subjects: Arithmetic in the first year, elementary algebra in the second year, geometry in the third year, and advanced algebra in the fourth year. The NSEC mandates that for each year level, portions of algebra, geometry and measurement, trigonometry, statistics, and consumer mathematics would be included. The level of difficulty increases for each year level. This process allots math subjects with 200 minutes per week, 40 minutes daily.

The programs RSEP, PROPED, NSEC, and SEDP all lead to the Secondary Education Development and Improvement Project SEDIP (2000-2006). SEDIP is similar to TEEP. The goal of the project is to improve equitable access to quality secondary education in poverty affected areas. The three main objectives in the areas of improvement of quality education are increased rates of participation, completion, and decentralization of management and decision making at the provincial level. The program involves the construction of new school buildings; improvement of school facilities; provision of textbooks, manuals and instructional aids; and extensive in-service training programs for teachers and school administrators. The total project cost is $170 million. DECS implemented the 1999 and 2000 Computerization Program, and this allowed 325 public secondary schools to become recipients of computer packages and teacher training.


Higher Education


The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) works with DECS to regulate higher education in the Philippines. This organization was created through Republic Act No.7722, also known as the Higher Education Act of 1994, during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos. The commission's vision is the pursuit of a better quality of life for all through education. Most institutions of higher education are in the private sector and there is a large concentration of them in the metropolitan area of Manila. In 1965-1966, there were a total of 527,000 students (468,00 private) in 466 schools (440 private). In 1984-1985, this number more than tripled to 1.73 million students (1.34 million private) in 1,157 schools (838 private). Statistics from CHED show that by 1998, there were 1,495 schools (1,118 private). About 25 foreign nationalities and citizenships are represented amongst the higher education students. China, USA, and Thailand have the most representation.

Higher education programs are offered in the following fields (with the number of students for the years 1990 and 1995 in parenthesis): arts and sciences (187,313 and 226,111); teacher education (257,638 and 276,046); engineering and technology (228,757 and 275,695); medical and health (272,784 and 238,988); commerce (380,491 and 603,575); agriculture (50,006 and 72,656); law (14,581 and 13,983); religion (4,711 and 8,262); information technology (36,947 and 117,799); maritime (92,114 and 137,584); and criminology (24,297 and 47,273). Commerce is the most popular program. There has been a rapid increase, up to 218 percent, in the number of students taking information technology.

Since 1973, students are required to take the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), before they can begin higher education. This exam is administered during the fourth year of high school. A controversial issue regarding this exam is the use of English, which prejudices against students from rural and poor areas.

Tuition in private schools of higher education is higher than that of public schools although private tuition rates sometimes mean less expenditure per student as compared to public institutions. It has even been suggested to the Philippine government that they might save money by offering government scholarships for students to enroll in private schools.

During the school year 1989-1990, the four autonomous campuses and five regional units of the University of the Philippines initiated a program of socialized tuition and subsidies named Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP). During its first year, 44 percent of the 26,000 undergraduate students received free tuition. A tuition reduction or discount of 25 to 75 percent was given to another 22 percent. Living and book allowances are other forms of subsidy under this program and some 24 percent of undergraduate students received these.

Through CHED, various projects have been created to improve higher education, namely: National Higher Education Research Agenda (NHERA), Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program, 1996 CHED Computerization Program, and Centers of Excellence/Centers of Development.

During the 1980s and 1990s, higher education institutions were producing many graduates who were unable to find employment to match their educational skills. This lead to certain institutions being known as "diploma mills," earning profit for churning out jobless graduates or underemployed graduates. It also created a group of highly educated, discontented youth quick to criticize the administration. To prevent this situation from further deteriorating, two surveys were performed: Higher Education Labor Market Surveys I and II or HELMS I and II. These studies researched and surveyed the transition from school to work over a period of time, then made recommendations based on their findings.

With the Philippine economy unable to employ its graduates, these skilled workers looked overseas for employment. An exodus of professionals and skilled laborers ensued. This situation has been referred to as the "brain drain" of the Philippines. In 1996, the Philippine National Statistics Office reported that the majority of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) were in Asia/Middles East (78.8 percent). While definitely being a grave problem, it has had some positive effects. According to the US State Government Background Notes on the Philippines, the country's economy was less severely damaged by the Asian financial crisis of 1997 due to the considerable remittances from overseas workers, totaling approximately $5 billion annually.

Of the 650 institutions providing higher education in the country, 550 are private colleges, 35 are private universities, 25 are state colleges, and 7 are state universities. In 1987 there were 274 graduate schools (196 private) in the Philippines, most of which were located in Metro Manila. There were 44,427 students in the master's programs while 4,848 were in doctoral programs during 1985-1986. About 2 percent of all students in higher education were in the graduate level. For this same period 176 graduate programs were available in Metro Manila. These post-graduate programs were in the arts and sciences (81), agriculture, forestry, and fisheries (34), and teacher education (20).

Some 147 schools offered M.B.A.s while 141 institutions offered M.A.s in education. The highest number of doctoral students was in the field of education. The majority of faculty members teaching higher education have received either a B.S./B.A. degree or a master's degree. Only about 4 percent have their doctoral degrees, and most of them are at the University of the Philippines. Faculty development becomes a major issue since schools have difficulty recruiting highly qualified faculty members due to low salary levels. Colleges and universities usually lose their professors to industries that have better pay or to overseas employers who pay in dollars.

Higher education is slowly catching up with the information age as more institutions are going online. During the beginning of 2001, there were a number of institutions with their own Web sites. Various public and private sites have also surfaced to provide services to students in higher education. The notable ones are the Advanced Science and Technology Institute, Kodiko Online, 2StudyIt.com, Education for Life Foundation, Estudyante.com, FAPENET, Gurong Pahinugod, Iskolar.com, and others. School budgetary problems limit the access of students to technology in the classroom.


Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS) administers, supervises, and regulates primary and secondary education. In 1994, the Commission for Higher Education (CHED) was established. It has supervision and regulatory powers over both public and private higher education institutions as well as degree-granting programs in all public and private postsecondary educational institutions.

The task of overseeing postsecondary technicalvocational education and the training and development of out-of-school youth and unemployed community adults used to be distributed among a few government agencies. These agencies were fused together in 1994 to create the Technical Education and Skills Authority (TESDA). The agencies concerned are the National Manpower and Youth Council of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Bureau of Technical and Vocational Education of DECS, and the Apprenticeship Program of the Bureau of Local Employment of the DOLE. They were put together to prevent overlapping functions and to provide a centralized agency to give national direction for the government programs concerning the technicalvocational education and training system of the country. The focus of TESDA is to realize the full participation of industry, labor, local government units and technicalvocational institutions in the country's skilled manpower development programs.

As compared to other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, the Philippine government expenditures for education is low considering the state's task of providing free education. In 1994, the Philippine government spent 2.7 percent of the gross domestic product to education compared with Malaysia's 5.4 percent and Thailand's 3.5 percent. The proportion of national government budget allocated to education has varied from a high of 31.53 percent in 1957 to a low of 7.61 percent in 1981. It stood at 15.5 percent in 1987 and at 14.0 percent in 1997. In 1997, debt service payment was 40 percent of the national budget.

The State's responsibility to provide education had been transferred to the local government units and the private sector through the processes of "devolution" and "decentralization." These processes provide a solution for the financially strapped government but it may worsen existing inequities where poorer and richer local government units will be duplicated in the educational units themselves. The disparities between the poor and the rich schools may be widened.

Filipino research on education is hampered by a scarcity of funds. The approach and scope has mostly been confined within the parameters of pragmatism. Research is conducted to find solutions to urgent problems. Sometimes, the research itself is skipped such as when computers were bought en masse by DECS and private schools. The hasty incorporation of computer education into the curricula had prompted the procurement of the computers. Unfortunately, training in technology use by teachers lags behind the procurement of expensive equipment.

DECS offers a Computer Literacy Program and a Distance Learning Program. On June 2000, a new method to upgrade teaching skills was introduced at the annual conference of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges. A master's degree can be earned primarily using Internet resources.


Nonformal Education

The mission of Nonformal Education (NFE) in the Philippines is to empower the Filipino with "desirable knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values that will enable him/her to think critically and creatively, act innovatively and humanely in improving the quality of his/her life and that of his/her family, community and country." NFE aims to reduce the number of illiterate out-of-school youth and adults with need-based literacy programs, plus continue education through basic development projects. Activities that fall under this system of education range from vocational training to adult reading classes, from family planning sessions to cultural and leadership workshops for community leaders.

This branch of education is governed by the DECS Bureau of Nonformal Education(BNFE) and its history can be traced as far back as 1908 when ACT No. 1829 was created to provide for the delivery of civicoeducational lectures in towns and barrios. Six years later the act was amended to assign teachers in public schools to give the lectures. The New Commonwealth government passed Act No. 80 in 1936 to create the Office of Adult Education as part of the then Department of Instruction. A decade later, this branch was transformed into the Adult and Community Education Division of the Bureau of Public Schools. After the declaration of Martial Law, the Marcos government's Philippine Constitution of 1973 created the position of the Undersecretary of Nonformal Education.

The Education Act of 1982 created the Bureau of Continuing Education from the Office of Nonformal Education. The Aquino government after the People Power Revolution, enacted Executive Order No. 117 in 1987 to create the Bureau of Nonformal Education. Article 14, section 2(4) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution stated: "The state shall encourage nonformal, formal, indigenous learning systems, as well as self-learning, independent and out-of-school study programs, particularly those that respond to community needs; and provide adult citizens, the disabled and out-of school youth training in civics, vocational efficiency and other skills." Nonformal education, in this sense, is designed to extend, complement, and provide an alternative to the existing educational system. Human development thus becomes an important factor in alleviating poverty.

The National Statistics Office of the Philippines reported that in 1989, there were 3,000,000 school youths between the ages of 7 to 24. This increased to 3,800,000 by 1994. The highest percentage of these youths was from the Western Mindanao region. Out-of-school women outnumbered the men by 6.7 percent. On October 16, 1990, Proclamation No. 480 declared the period from 1990 to 1999 as the Decade of Education for All, with the goal of meeting the educational needs of the poor and under educated.

BNFE is divided into three divisions: the Literacy Division (LD), the Continuing Education Division (CED), and the Staff Development Division (SDD). The bureau outlines its functions as: serving the needs of those unable to avail of formal education; expanding access to educational opportunities; and providing opportunities for the acquisition of skills to ensure employability, efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness in the labor market. BNFE funds come from three main sources which are: the General Appropriations Act, loans from the Asian Development Bank, and funds from other international agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, ACCU, and elsewhere.

In 1995, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) was established to help regulate non-degree technical-vocational programs. TESDA was also in charge of skill orientation, training, and development of out-of-school youth and unemployed community adults.


Teaching Profession

The higher education system is not producing enough teachers to meet the expanding needs of the entire educational system of the country. In the academic year 1990-1991 DECS reported that there was not enough teachers. In elementary education they needed some 24,260 teachers, while secondary education lacked 22,450 teachers. These deficits were caused by the provision of free public secondary education. The mere 19,608 increase in students studying teacher education from 1990 to 1995 was not sufficient to fill the lack of teachers. As was stated in the overview, for school year 2000-2001 there was a lack of 29,000 teachers. The teaching career is not attracting students since it has a reputation for being an underpaid and unrewarding profession. Despite incentives from the government, more students are taking up commerce, perhaps due to the image of the business profession as a faster route to social mobility. Reports have also indicated the existence of corruption within the educational system and this greatly affects the morale of faculty and staff.

Recent studies have shown that not only is there a need for more teachers in the sciences and mathematics, but that present teachers in these two fields have to undergo further training and development. In 1989, the Philippines received a major grant from the Japanese government to begin construction of two new teacher retraining facilities in science education. These facilities are located in Baguio City and inside the University of the Philippines-Diliman campus.

In 1987 the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports sponsored the Task Force to Study State Higher Education. It recommended the identification and designation of certain campuses for teacher retraining. These campuses would serve as centers for advancement of education in designated special fields of teaching. The Task Force also recommended using actual public schools for practice teaching rather than university-based laboratory schools. This was done to promote the relationship between educational teaching programs and public schools.

The qualification to teach in elementary and preprimary schools is a bachelor's degree in elementary education. To teach secondary education, the teacher must have either a bachelor's degree in education which a major and a minor; an equivalent degree but also with a major and a minor; or a bachelor's degree in arts and/or sciences with at least 18 education units for teaching in high school.

Decentralization efforts in elementary and high school educational systems will require a more active role from principals, superintendents, and local community leaders. The TEEP and the SEDP programs are responsible for monitoring this transition process. Public institutions for higher education require that the teacher have at least an M.A. to be awarded the rank of Assistant Professor. Labor laws stipulate that faculty members become permanent (similar to tenured) after three years. The evaluation for this promotion is mostly based on performance, attendance, and tardiness. Extra-curricular activities such as publications, research, scholarship, and community services are rarely required. Since teaching is neither a lucrative nor a well-paying job, many professors in medicine, engineering, law, and business teach only on a part-time basis while maintaining other jobs within the industry. A DECS survey during the late 1980s showed 16 percent of total faculty members in public schools as part-time, while over 40 percent of the faculty in private schools were part-time.

In 1987, a study of 64 of the 78 State Colleges and Universities showed that of the 10,546 faculty members, 57 percent were women, 56 percent had only their B.S./B.A. degrees, about 33 percent had M.S./M.A. degrees, while 10 percent had their doctorates. This 10 percent rate goes down to 4 percent when private school faculty members are included. The decade from 1991 to 2000 marked a 400 percent increase in the salaries of public school teachers. However, the added expense cut into the funding for public elementary education, textbooks, educational materials, and facilities. The marked increase in teacher salaries only gave them a compensation package that is 1.2 times higher than the poverty threshold.


Summary

The Filipinos were literate even before they were colonized by Spain, the United States of America, and Japan. They may no longer be physically colonized but the ballooning economic debt, for which they may not have fully benefited, curtails their freedom. More than 32 percent of the population lives below poverty level as of 1997. Their innate desire for knowledge has been reinforced by the hope that good education can provide upward economic mobility. Steps for the realization of this hope has been codified into the constitution of the Philippines, which categorically states that the highest budgetary priority shall be given to education.

Faced with a lack of employment opportunities in their home country, at least 4.5 million of the well-educated labor force have sought and found work in other countries. They have sent their earnings back to their families and relatives in the Philippines. Overseas remittances in 1997 had amounted to US$4.5 billion. This amount, however, does not rebound for the benefit of education or the people of the country. Debt servicing in the form of interest payments for the same year amounted in excess of US$4.5 billion, which comprised the majority of the annual budget, at 40 percent. However, the ingrained resilience of the Filipinos has produced a population with 95 percent literacy despite adverse times. The over-populated country has turned the manpower section of the population into its biggest export and income-earner. The Filipinos may yet learn lessons from their economic bondage and realize that education can provide not only upward economic mobility but also economic empowerment.


Bibliography

Acuña, Jasmin E., et al., eds. The Language Issue in Education. Manila: Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, 1994.

Casal, Fr. Gabriel, Eusebio Dizon, Wilfredo Ronquillo, and Cecilio Salcedo, eds. The Earliest Filipinos. Hong Kong: Asia Publishing Company Ltd., 1998.

Cenoz, Jason, and Fred Genesee, eds. Beyond Bilingualism: Multilingualism and Multilingual Education. Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters Ltd., 1998.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Fact-book 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 January 2000. Available from http://www.cia.gov/.

Chua, Yvonne T. Robbed: An Investigation of Corruption in Philippine Education. Quezon City: Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 1999.

Clemente, Alejandro W. Philippine Education in the 21st Century. Quezon City: 1996.

Coloma, Sonny. "Vector: Enhancing: Competitiveness Through Investments in Education." BusinessWorld (Philippines), 16 June 2000. Available from http://www.bworld.com.ph/.

Cortes, Josefina R. Explorations in the Theory and Practice of Philippine Education, 1965-1993. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1993.

Dolan, Ronald E., ed. Philippines: A Country Study. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993.

Dy, Manuel B. Values in Philippine Culture and Education. Washington DC: Council for Research in Values & Philosophy, 1994.

Goodno, James B. The Philippines: Land of Broken Promises. London: Zed Book, 1991.

Gonzalez, FSC, Andrew. "The Future of Philippine Education: Trends, Issues and Challenges." Paper presented at the First Salesian Educator's Congress, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, 25 April 2000.

Patanne, E.P. The Philippines in the 6th to the 16th Centuries. San Juan, Manila: LSA Press, 1996.

Republic of the Philippines. Commission on Higher Education, 5 March 2001. Available from http://www.info.com.

Roces, Alfredo, and Grace Roces. Culture Shock! Philippines. Portland, OR: Graphic Arts Center, 1994.

Steinberg, David Joel. The Philippines: A Singular and a Plural Place. Boulder, Westview Press, 1990.

Sullivan, Margaret. The Philippines: Pacific Crossroads. New York, Dillon Press, 1993.

Sutaria, Minda C. et al., eds. Philippine Education: Visions and Perspectives. Metro Manila: National Book Store, 1989.

Swinerton, Nelson E. Philippine Higher Education: Toward the Twenty-First Century. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1991.

Task Force on Higher Education. The Philippine Higher Education in the 21st Century: Strategies for Excellence and Equity. Manila: The Task Force, 1995.

Zanini, Gianni. Philippines: From Crisis to Opportunity. Washington, DC: The World Bank, 1999.


Juanita Villena-Alvarez and Victoria Villena

views updated

PHILIPPINES

Compiled from the October 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.




Official Name:
Republic of the Philippines

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-PHILIPPINE RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 300,000 sq. km. (117,187 sq. mi.).

Cities: (2000 census) Capital—Manila (pop. 9.9 million in metropolitan area); Davao City (1.2 million), Cebu City (1.6million).

Terrain: Islands, 65% mountainous, with narrow coastal lowlands.

Climate: Tropical, astride typhoon belt.


People

Nationality: Noun—Filipino(s). Adjective—Philippine.

Population: (2000 census): 76.5 million. Government est., 2002: 79.5 million

Annual growth rate: 2.36%.

Ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese.

Religions: Catholic 85%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 5%, Buddhist and other 1%.

Languages: Pilipino (based on Tagalog), national language; English, language of government and instruction in education.

Education: Years compulsory —6 (note: 6 years of primary education free and compulsory; 4 years of secondary education free but not compulsory). Attendance—above 97% in elementary grades, above 74% in secondary grades. Literacy—92%.

Health (2002): Infant mortality rate—25.7/1,000. Life expectancy—66.9 yrs. males; 72.2 yrs. females.

Work force (2002): 33.9 million. Services (including commerce and government)—47%; agriculture—37%; industry—16%.


Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: 1946.

Constitution: February 11, 1987.

Branches: Executive—president and vice president. Legislative—bicameral legislature. Judicial—independent.

Administrative subdivisions: 15 regions and Manila, 79 provinces, 115 chartered cities.

Political parties: Lakas-NUCD, Nationalist People's Coalition, Labanng Demokratikong Pilipino, Liberal Party, and other small parties.

Suffrage: Universal, but not compulsory, at age 18.


Economy

GDP: (2002)$77.1 billion.

Annual growth rate: (2002) 4.6%.

GDP per capita (2002): $962.

Natural resources: Copper, nickel, iron, cobalt, silver, gold.

Agriculture: Products—rice, coconut products, sugar, corn, pork, bananas, pineapple products, aquaculture, mangoes, eggs.

Industry: Types—textiles and garments, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wood products, food processing, electronics assembly, petroleum refining, fishing.

Trade: (2002) Exports—$35.20 billion. Imports—$35.43 billion.




PEOPLE

The majority of Philippine people are of Malay stock, descendants of Indonesians and Malays who migrated to the islands long before the Christian era. The most significant ethnic minority group is the Chinese, who have played an important role in commerce since the ninth century, when they first came to the islands to trade. As a result of intermarriage, many Filipinos have some Chinese and Spanish ancestry. Americans and Spaniards constitute the next largest alien minorities in the country.


More than 90% of the people are Christian; most were converted and Westernized to varying degrees during nearly 400 years of Spanish and American rule. The major non-Hispanicized groups are the Muslim population, concentrated in the Sulu Archipelago and in central and western Mindanao, and the mountain groups of northern Luzon. Small forest tribes live in the more remote areas of Mindanao.

About 87 native languages and dialects are spoken, all belonging to the Malay-Polynesian linguistic family. Of these, eight are the first languages of more than 85% of the population. The three principal indigenous languages are Cebuano, spoken in the Visayas; Tagalog, predominant in the area around Manila; and Ilocano, spoken in northern Luzon. Since 1939, in an effort to develop national unity, the government has promoted the use of the national language, Pilipino, which is based on Tagalog. Pilipino is taught in all schools and is gaining acceptance, particularly as a second language


English, the most important nonnative language, is used as a second language by many, including nearly all professionals, academics, and government workers. In January 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Department of Education to restore English as the medium of instruction in all schools and universities. Only a few Filipino families use Spanish as a first language.


Despite this multiplicity of languages, the Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in the East Asian and Pacific area. About 92% of the population 10 years of age and older are literate.




HISTORY

The history of the Philippines may be divided into four distinct phases: the pre-Spanish period (before 1521); the Spanish period (1521-1898); the American period (1898-1946); and the years since independence (1946-present).


Pre-Spanish Period

The first people in the Philippines, the Negritos, are believed to have come to the islands 30,000 years ago from Borneo and Sumatra, making their way across then-existing land bridges. Subsequently, people of Malay stock came from the south in successive waves, the earliest by land bridges and later in boats called barangays. The Malays settled in scattered communities, also called barangays, which were ruled by chieftains known as datus. Chinese merchants and traders arrived and settled in the ninth century A.D. In the 14th century, Arabs arrived, introducing Islam in the south and extending some influence even into Luzon. The Malays, however, remained the dominant group until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.


Spanish Period

Ferdinand Magellan claimed the Philippines for Spain in 1521, and for the next 377 years, the islands were under Spanish rule. This period was the era of conversion to Roman Catholicism. A Spanish colonial social system was developed, complete with a strong centralized government and considerable clerical influence. The Filipinos were restive under the Spanish, and this long period was marked by numerous uprisings. The most important of these began in 1896 under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo and continued until the Americans defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.


American Period

Following Admiral Dewey's defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, the United States occupied the Philippines. Spain ceded the islands to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (December 10, 1898) that ended the war.


A war of resistance against U.S. rule, led by Revolutionary President Aguinaldo, broke out in 1899. Although Americans have historically used the term "the Philippine Insurrection," Filipinos and an increasing number of American historians refer to these hostilities as the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), and in 1999 the U.S. Library of Congress reclassified its references to use this term. In 1901, Aguinaldo was captured and swore allegiance to the United States, and resistance gradually died out.

U.S. administration of the Philippines was always declared to be temporary and aimed to develop institutions that would permit and encourage the eventual establishment of a free and democratic government. Therefore, U.S. officials concentrated on the creation of such practical supports for democratic government as public education and a sound legal system.


The first legislative assembly was elected in 1907. A bicameral legislature, largely under Philippine control, was established. A civil service was formed and was gradually taken over by the Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by the end of World War I. The Catholic Church was disestablished, and a considerable amount of church land was purchased and redistributed.


In 1935, under the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel Quezon was elected president of the new government, which was designed to prepare the country for independence after a 10-year transition period. World War II intervened, however, and in May 1942, Corregidor, the last American/Filipino stronghold, fell. U.S. forces in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese, placing the islands under Japanese control.


The war to regain the Philippines began when Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed on Leyte on October 20, 1944. Filipinos and Americans fought together until the Japanese surrender in September 1945. Much of Manila was destroyed during the final months of the fighting, and an estimated 1 million Filipinos lost their lives in the war.


As a result of the Japanese occupation, the guerrilla warfare that followed, and the battles leading to liberation, the country suffered great damage and a complete organizational break down. Despite the shaken state of the country, the United States and the Philippines decided to move forward with plans for independence. On July 4, 1946, the Philippine Islands became the
independent Republic of the Philippines, in accordance with the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act. In 1962, the official Independence Day was changed from July 4 to June 12, commemorating the date independence from Spain was declared by General Aguinaldo in 1898.

Post-Independence Period

The early years of independence were dominated by U.S.-assisted postwar reconstruction. A communist-inspired Huk Rebellion (1945-53) complicated recovery efforts before its successful suppression under the leadership of President Ramon Magsaysay. The succeeding administrations of Presidents Carlos P. Garcia (1957-61) and Diosdado Macapagal (1961-65) sought to expand Philippine ties to its Asian neighbors, implement domestic reform programs, and develop and diversify the economy.

In 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965-86) declared martial law, citing growing lawlessness and open rebellion by the communist rebels as his justification. Marcos governed from 1973 until mid-1981 in accordance with the transitory provisions of a new constitution that replaced the commonwealth constitution of 1935. He suppressed democratic institutions and restricted civil liberties during the martial law period, ruling largely by decree and popular referenda. The government began a process of political normalization during 1978-81, culminating in the reelection of President Marcos to a 6-year term that would have ended in 1987. The Marcos government's respect for human rights remained low despite the end of martial law on January 17, 1981. His government retained its wide arrest and detention powers. Corruption and favoritism contributed to a serious decline in economic growth and development under Marcos.


The assassination of opposition leader Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino upon his return to the Philippines in 1983, after a long period of exile, coalesced popular dissatisfaction with Marcos and set in motion a succession of events that culminated in a snap presidential election in February 1986. The opposition united under Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino, and Salvador Laurel, head of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO). The election was marred by widespread electoral fraud on the part of Marcos and his supporters. International observers, including a U.S. delegation led by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), denounced the official results. Marcos was forced to flee the Philippines in the face of a peaceful civilian-military uprising that ousted him and installed Corazon Aquino as president on February 25, 1986.


Under Aquino's presidency progress was made in revitalizing democratic institutions and respect for civil liberties. However, the administration also was viewed by many as weak and fractious, and a return to full political stability and economic development was hampered by several attempted coups staged by disaffected members of the Philippine military.


Fidel Ramos was elected president in 1992. Early in his administration, Ramos declared "national reconciliation" his highest priority. He legalized the communist party and created the National Unification Commission (NUC) to lay the groundwork for talks with communist insurgents, Muslim separatists, and military rebels. In June 1994, President Ramos signed into law a general conditional amnesty covering all rebel groups, as well as Philippine military and police personnel accused of crimes committed while fighting the insurgents. In October 1995, the government signed an agreement bringing the military insurgency to an end. A peace agreement with one major Muslim insurgent group was signed in 1996.


Joseph Ejercito Estrada's election as president in May 1998 marked the Philippines' third democratic succession since the ouster of Marcos. Estrada was elected with overwhelming mass support on a platform promising poverty alleviation and an anti-crime crackdown.


Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, elected vice president in 1998, assumed the presidency in January 2001 after widespread demonstrations that followed the breakdown of Estrada's impeachment trial on corruption charges. The Philippine Supreme Court subsequently endorsed unanimously the constitutionality of the transfer of power. National elections will take place in May 2004. In December 2002, Macapagal-Arroyo announced she would not be a candidate for a full term as president.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The Philippines has a representative democracy modeled on the U.S. system. The 1987 constitution, adopted during the Aquino administration, reestablished a presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary. The president is limited to one 6-year term. Provision also was made in the constitution for autonomous regions in Muslim areas of Mindanao and in the Cordillera region of northern Luzon.


The Philippine Senate is elected at large. There are currently 23 senators, 13 of whom were elected in May 2001. (Note: There is one vacancy in the Senate due to the 2002 resignation of Blas Ople to become Foreign Secretary. The seat will remain vacant until filled in the 2004 election.) Of a possible 250 members of the House of Representatives, 207 are elected from the single-member districts. The remainder of the House seats are designated for sectoral party representative selected at large; currently, there are 12 such representatives in the House.


When Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the presidency, her "People Power Coalition," led by the—Lakas-NUCD party, became the dominant group in Congress. The 75-member Lakas Party leads the "Sunshine Coalition," which also includes the 61-member Nationalist People's Coalition, the 22-member Liberal Party, and several other major and minor parties. The LDP party leads the 20-member opposition bloc. In the Senate, the pro-administration coalition controls 13 of the 23 seats. Members of the Philippine Congress tend to have weak party loyalties and change party affiliation easily.


The government is pursuing corruption-related criminal cases against former President Estrada, who is currently under detention. The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which recently gained international notoriety with its kidnappings of foreign tourists in the southern islands, is a major problem for the government. In May 2001, the ASG kidnapped several Americans, beheading one of them in June 2001. In a June 2002 rescue attempt, another American hostage was killed. Efforts to track down and destroy the ASG have met with some success, especially on Basilan, where U.S. troops advised, assisted, and trained Philippine soldiers in counterterrorism. ASG elements remain active on Jolo Island and elsewhere in the southwestern Philippines. Rising crime and concerns about the security situation have had a negative impact on tourism and foreign investment. The government continues to face threats from both Muslim separatist groups and communist in surgents. In August 2001, the government reached a cease-fire agreement with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front; negotiations on a final peace agreement continued at a very slow pace amid sporadic fighting into 2003. The Department of State in August 2002 added the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA) to the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list. Negotiations between the government and the CPP's political arm, the National Democratic Front, were suspended in 2001 after the NPA assassinated two members of Congress, although "back-channel" talks continue.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 12/24/03


President: Macapagal-Arroyo, Gloria

Vice President: Guingona, Teofisto

Executive Secretary: Romulo, Alberto

Sec. of Agrarian Reform: Pagdanganan, Roberto

Sec. of Agriculture: Lorenzo, Luis

Sec. of the Budget & Management: Boncodin, Emilia

Sec. of Education, Culture, & Sports: De Jesus, Edilberto

Sec. of Energy: Perez, Vicente

Sec. of Environment & Natural Resources: Gozun, Elisea

Sec. of Finance: Amatong, Juanita

Sec. of Foreign Affairs: Domingo-Albert, Delia Sec. of Health: Dayrit, Manuel, Dr.

Sec. of Interior & Local Govt.: Lina, Jose

Sec. of Justice:

Sec. of Labor & Employment: Santo Thomas, Patricia

Sec. of National Defense: Ermita, Eduardo

Sec. of Public Works & Highways: Fernando, Bayani

Sec. of Science & Technology: Alabastro, Estrella

Sec. of Social Welfare & Development: Soliman, Corazon

Sec. of Socio-Economic Planning: Neri, Romulo

Sec. of Tourism: Gordon, Richard

Sec. of Trade & Industry: Purisima, Cesar

Sec. of Transportation & Communications: Mendoza, Leandro

Governor, Central Bank: Buenaventura, Rafael

Ambassador to the US: Del Rosario, Albert

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Baja, Jr., Lauro L.



The Republic of the Philippines maintains an embassy in the United States at 1600 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-467-9300). Consulates general are in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Agana (Guam).




ECONOMY

Since the end of the Second World War, the Philippine economy has had a mixed history of growth and development. Over the years, the Philippines has gone from being one of the richest countries in Asia (following Japan) to being one of the poorest. Growth immediately after the war was rapid but slowed over time. A severe recession in 1984-85 saw the economy shrink by more than 10%, and perceptions of political instability during the Aquino administration further dampened economic activity. During his administration, President Ramos introduced a broad range of economic reforms and initiatives designed to spur business growth and foreign investment. As a result, the Philippines saw a period of higher growth, but the Asian financial crisis triggered in 1997 slowed economic development in the Philippines once again. President Estrada tried to resist protectionist measures and to continue the reforms begun by the Ramos administration. Important laws to strengthen regulation and supervision of the banking system (General Banking Act) and securities markets (Securities Regulation Code), to liberalize foreign participation in the retail trade sector, and to promote and regulate electronic commerce were enacted during his abbreviated term. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has made considerable progress in restoring macroeconomic stability with the help of a well-regarded economic team. The widening fiscal deficit remains the most glaring exception to a number of positive developments elsewhere in the economy.

Important sectors of the Philippine economy include agriculture and industry, particularly food processing, textiles and garments, and electronics and automobile parts. Most industries are concentrated in the urban areas around metropolitan Manila. Mining also has great potential in the Philippines, which possesses significant reserves of chromite, nickel, and copper. Significant natural—gas finds off the islands of Palawan have added to the country's substantial geothermal, hydro, and coal energy reserves.


Today's Economy

The Philippines was less severely affected by the Asian financial crisis than its neighbors, aided in part by remittances of more than $7 billion annually from overseas workers. Except for 1998—when drought and weather-related disturbances pulled down agricultural harvests, combining with the contraction in industrial sector production—real gross domestic product (GDP) has recorded positive growth year-on-year. From a 0.6% decline in 1998, GDP expansion picked up in 1999 (3.4%) and 2000 (4.4%) but slowed to 3.2% in 2001 in the context of a global economic slowdown, export slump, and domestic as well as global political and security concerns. Year-on-year GDP growth accelerated to 4.2% in 2002—exceeding the downward-revised 4.0%-4.5% growth range targeted by the government for that year—reflecting the continued resilience of the service sector, gains in industrial sector output, and recovering exports. Nonetheless, it will take a higher, sustained economic-growth path to make more appreciable progress in poverty alleviation given the Phil ippines' high annual population growth rate of 2.36%—one of the highest in Asia.


Agriculture generally suffers from low productivity and the lack of economies-of-scale, as well as inadequate infrastructure support. Output fell in 1997 and 1998 due to an El Niño-related drought but increased by 6.0% in 1999 (over 1998's low base). Growth reverted to more normal rates in 2000 (4.0%) and 2001 (3.7%). Agricultural out put (affected by another, albeit milder, dry spell) expanded by 3.5% year-on-year in 2002.


The global economic and electronics-demand slowdown combined with softer prices of resource-based commodities to depress export performance in 2001. Full-year export receipts—which last declined in 1985—contracted by 16.2% year-on-year, dragged down by a nearly 24% drop in revenues from shipments of electronic and telecommunications parts and equipment (which comprise about 60% of annual export revenues). Export receipts expanded from April-December 2002, breaking from 14 consecutive months of negative year-on-year growth and nudging up the full-year 2002 export growth rate to positive territory (9.5%). The export expansion reflected improved levels of intra-Asia trade.


Although less severely affected than its neighbors, the Philippines' banking sector was not spared from high interest rates and non-performing loan levels during the Asian financial crisis and its aftermath. Increases in minimum capitalization requirements, increasing loan-loss provisions, and generally healthy capital-adequacy ratios have helped temper systemic risk. Nevertheless, the burden of rising non-performing assets has squeezed profit margins and inhibited bank lending, posing risks to the longer term viability and stability of the banking system.


As of the end of December 2002, the Philippine peso, which closed at P53.03, had weakened by more than 101% vis-a-vis the U.S. dollar since mid-1997 and currently trades at about 53.50-54.00/U.S.dollars. Elsewhere, there have been some recent, positive developments in the Philippine economy. Year-on-year inflation, a perennial problem in the Philippines, is under control. Year-on-year inflation averaged 3.1% during 2002, its lowest since 1987 and well below the government's 4.5%-5.5% targeted average for the 2002 full year. Inflation was tempered in part by generally stable food prices, a less volatile currency, underutilized capacities, still high unemployment, and government efforts to control utility-rate increases. Domestic interest rates have fallen significantly, aided by low inflation and a stable monetary policy. In 2002, the balance of payments broke from 2 consecutive years of deficits and mustered a modest surplus, helped in part by workers' remittances and improving export receipts.


The Aquino and Ramos administrations opened up the relatively closed Philippine economy and provided a firmer base for sustainable economic growth. After a slow start, President Estrada and his cabinet continued with, and expanded, liberalization and market-based policies and reforms. Efforts to reform the constitution to encourage foreign investment, particularly foreign ownership of land, were abandoned amidst nationalist opposition. Initial optimism about prospects for economic reform also had dimmed amid concerns of governmental corruption. Scandals involving the Philippine Stock Exchange, and the President's close ties to certain businessmen, shook confidence of investors and the business community and ultimately led to successful efforts to impeach and remove President Estrada.

President Macapagal-Arroyo is working to continue with economic reforms in areas beyond retail trade, electronic commerce, banking reform, and securities regulation. Her administration enacted an anti-money laundering law in September 2001 and followed through with amendments in March 2002 to address remaining legal concerns posed by the OECD Financial Action Task Force (FATF). While the Philippines has avoided FATF countermeasures, effective implementation will be key to the Philippines' removal from the FATF's watch list of "non-cooperating countries and territories." Although encountering implementation hitches, her administration also enacted legislation to rationalize and privatize the electric power sector. In January 2002, President Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law two priority initiatives which seek to reform the government procurement system (the Government Procurement Reform Act) and to help ease the burden of non-performing assets on the financial sector through the establishment of private asset management companies (the Special Purpose Vehicle Act).


Notwithstanding favorable trends, the Philippine economy continues to juggle extremely limited financial resources while attempting to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding population and address intensifying demands for the current administration to deliver on its anti-poverty promises. The current high level of government debt, the substantial share of foreign obligations, the emerging risks posed by contingent liabilities, and the worrisome deterioration in tax collection performance over the past 5 years have increased the country's vulnerability to severe external and domestic shocks. Potential foreign investors, as well as tourists, continue to be concerned about law and order, inadequate infrastructure, and governance issues. While trade liberalization presents significant opportunities, intensifying global competition and the emergence of low-wage export economies also pose challenges. In particular, competition from other Southeast Asian countries and from China for investment underlines the need for sustained progress on structural reforms to remove bottlenecks to growth, lower costs of doing business, and promote good public and private sector governance.


Agriculture and Forestry

Arable farmland comprises an estimated 26% of the total land area. Although the Philippines is rich in agricultural potential, inadequate infrastructure, lack of financing, and government policies have limited productivity gains. Philippine farms produce food crops for domestic consumption and cash crops for export. The agricultural sector employs about 40% of the work force but only provides about one-fifth of GDP.


Decades of uncontrolled logging and slash-and-burn agriculture in marginal upland areas have stripped forests, with critical implications for the ecological balance. The government has instituted conservation programs, but deforestation remains a severe problem.


With its 7,107 islands, the Philippines has a very diverse range of fishing areas. Notwithstanding good prospects for the agriculture sub-sector, the fishing industry continues to face a bleak future due to destructive fishing methods, a lack of funds, and absence of government support.


Industry

Industrial production is centered on processing and assembly operations of the following: food, beverages, tobacco, rubber products, textiles, clothing and footwear, pharmaceuticals, paints, plywood and veneer, paper and paper products, small appliances, and electronics. Heavier industries are dominated by the production of cement, glass, industrial chemicals, fertilizers, iron and steel, and refined petroleum products.


The industrial sector is concentrated in the urban areas, especially in the metropolitan Manila region and has only weak linkages to the rural economy. In adequate infrastructure, transportation and communication have so far inhibited faster industrial growth, although significant strides have been made in addressing the last of these elements.


Mining

The country is well-endowed with mineral and thermal energy resources. A recent discovery of natural gas reserves off Palawan Island has been brought on-line to generate electricity. Philippine copper and chromite deposits are among the largest in the world. Other important minerals include gold, nickel, silver, coal, gypsum, and sulfur. The Philippines also has significant deposits of clay, limestone, marble, silica, and phosphate. Until 4 years ago, nonmetallic minerals accounted for 55% to 60% of total mining production and contributed substantially to the industry's steady output growth between 1993 and 1998 (with the value of production growing 58%). Mineral production declined by 18% between end-1998 and end-2000 to pesos 30.6 billion ($600 million at 2000's average foreign exchange rate) and the share of non-metallic minerals fell to under 45%. Mineral exports have generally slowed since 1996. Led by copper metal, Philippine mineral exports amounted to $512 million in 2002, down 5% from 2001 levels. Low metal prices, high production costs, and lack of investment in infrastructure have contributed to the mining industry's overall decline.




FOREIGN RELATIONS

In its foreign policy, the Philippines cultivates constructive relations with its Asian neighbors, with whom it is linked through membership in ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. The Philippines is a member of the UN and some of its specialized agencies, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM, since 1992), and has close links with the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The Philippines has played a key role in ASEAN in recent years and also values its relations with the countries of the Middle East, in no small part because hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are employed in that region. The fundamental Philippine attachment to democracy and human rights is reflected in its foreign policy. Philippine soldiers and police have participated in a number of multilateral civilian police and peacekeeping operations, and a Philippine Army general served as the first commander of the UN Peacekeeping Operation in East Timor. The Philippine Government also has been active in efforts to reduce tensions among rival claimants to the territories and waters of the resource-rich South China Sea.




U.S.-PHILIPPINE RELATIONS

U.S.-Philippine relations are based on shared history and commitment to democratic principles, as well as on economic ties. The historical and cultural links between the Philippines and the United States remain strong. The Philippines modeled its governmental institutions on those of the United States and continues to share a commitment to democracy and human rights. At the most fundamental level of bilateral relations, human links continue to form a strong bridge between the two countries. There are an estimated 2 million Americans of Philippine ancestry in the United States and more than 130,000 American citizens in the Philippines.


Until November 1992, pursuant to the 1947 Military Bases Agreement, the United States maintained and operated major facilities at Clark Air Base, Subic Bay Naval Complex, and several small subsidiary installations in the Philippines. In 1983 and 1988, the United States and the Philippines completed successful reviews and extensions of the Military Bases Agreement, as amended. In August 1991, negotiators from the two countries reached agreement on a draft treaty providing for use of Subic Bay Naval Base by U.S. forces for 10 years. The draft treaty did not include use of Clark Air Base, which had been so heavily damaged by the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo that the United States decided to abandon it.

In September 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the bases treaty, and despite further efforts to salvage the situation, the two sides could not reach agreement. As a result, the Philippine Government informed the United States on December 6, 1991, that it would have 1 year to complete withdrawal. That withdrawal went smoothly and was completed ahead of schedule, with the last U.S. forces departing on November 24, 1992. On departure, the U.S. Government turned over assets worth more than $1.3 billion to the Philippines, including an airport and ship-repair facility. Agencies formed by the Philippine Government have converted the former military bases for civilian commercial use, with Subic Bay serving as a flagship for that effort.


The post-U.S. bases era has seen U.S.-Philippine relations improved and broadened, with a prominent focus on economic and commercial ties while maintaining the importance of the security dimension. U.S. investment continues to play an important role in the Philippine economy, while a strong security relationship rests on the 1952 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). In February 1998, U.S. and Philippine negotiators concluded the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), paving the way for increased military cooperation under the MDT. The agreement was approved by the Philippine Senate in May 1999 and entered into force on June 1, 1999. Under the VFA, the United States has conducted ship visits to Philippine ports and has resumed large combined military exercises with Philippine forces. Key events in the bilateral relationship include the July 4, 1996 declaration by President Ramos of Philippine-American Friendship Day in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Philippine independence. Ramos visited the United States in April 1998, and then-President Estrada visited in July 2000. President Macapagal-Arroyo met with President Bush in an official working visit in November 2001 and made a State Visit to Washington on May 19, 2003. Numerous U.S. Cabinet-level visits to the Philippines punctuated this latter period, culminating in a visit by Secretary of State Colin Powell in August 2002.


President Macapagal-Arroyo has repeatedly stressed the close friendship between the Philippines and the United States and her desire to further strengthen bilateral ties. Both governments seek to revitalize and strengthen their partnership by working toward greater security, prosperity, and service to Filipinos and Americans alike. Inaugurated into office on the same day as President Bush, President Macapagal-Arroyo lent strong support to the global war on terrorism and the coalition against Saddam Hussein.


Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) 02-1 in 2002 contributed directly to the Philippines Armed Forces efforts to root out Abu Sayyaf terrorists and bring development to one formerly terrorist-plagued island. The United States has intensified its annual cycle of combined military training around the country as well as the military's civil affairs and humanitarian projects, funded by $68 million in U.S. Foreign Military Financing projected between 2002-06. In addition, supplemental funding legislated in April 2003 will add another $30 million. Moreover, the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, $2.4 million in FY 2003, is the largest in Asia and the second-largest in the world. At $148 million, the Philippines is the number one recipient in Asia of Excess Defense Articles. The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) was signed in November 2002 after a year-long negotiation process. Similarly, law enforcement cooperation has reached new levels. U.S.-Philippines law enforcement agencies have cooperated to bring charges against 15 Abu Sayyaf terrorists, implement an extradition treaty, and train some 700 Filipino law enforcement officers in 2002.

The United States also is working closely with the Philippines to reduce poverty and increase prosperity. President Macapagal-Arroyo has subscribed to President Bush's Millennium Challenge, even as President Bush fully supports President Macapagal-Arroyo's "Strong Republic" reform agenda for rooting out corruption, opening economic opportunity, and investing in health and education. USAID programs, worth $84 million in FY 2003, support the Arroyo administration's war on poverty as well as the GRP reform agenda in critical areas, including anti-money laundering, government procurement, and tax collection. Other USAID programs bolstered the government's efforts to heal divisions in Philippine society through a focus on conflict resolution, livelihood enhancement for former combatants, and economic development in Mindanao and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, among the poorest areas in the country. Supplemental budget legislation in April 2003 earmarked another $30 million for support to the peace process in Mindanao. Meanwhile, important programs continue in modern family planning, infectious disease control, environmental protection, provision of basic services—as well as PL 480 and 416(B) food aid programs, which together totaled $34.5 million in FY 2002.


More than 130,000 American citizens reside in the Philippines, and nearly 400,000 visit each year. An estimated 2 million Filipinos live in the United States, and they remitted about $3.5 billion in FY 2002. Providing government services to U.S. and the other party's citizens, therefore, constitutes an important aspect of the bilateral relationship. Those services include veterans affairs, social security, and consular operations. Benefits to Filipinos from the U.S. Veterans Affairs and Social Security Administrations totaled $143.9 million and $246.7 million, respectively. Many people-to-people programs exist between the United States and the Philippines, including Fulbright, International Visitors and Aquino Fellowship exchange programs, as well as the U.S. Peace Corps.


Trade and Investment

Two-way U.S. trade with the Philippines amounted to nearly $18.3 billion in 2002. The strong trade ties between the United States and the Philippines is reflected in the fact that some 19% of the Philippines' imports in 2002 came from the United States, and about one-fourth of its exports were bound for America. The Philippines ranks as our 19th-largest export market and our 20th-largest supplier. Key exports to the United States are semiconductor devices and computer peripherals, automobile parts, electric machinery, textiles and garments, and coconut oil. In addition to other goods, the Philippines imports raw and semi-processed materials for the manufacture of semiconductors, electronics and electrical machinery, transport equipment, and cereals and cereal preparations.


The United States traditionally has been the Philippines' largest foreign investor, with about $3.3 billion in estimated investment as of end-2002 comprising 22% of the Philippines' foreign direct investment stock. Since the late 1980s, the Philippines has committed itself to reforms that encourage foreign investment as a basis for economic development, subject to certain guidelines and restrictions in specified areas. Under President Ramos, the Philippines expanded reforms, opening the power generation and telecommunications sectors to foreign investment, as well as securing ratification of the Uruguay Round agreement and membership in the World Trade Organization. As noted earlier, President Macapagal-Arroyo administration is continuing such reforms, a position which generally enjoys domestic political support. A major obstacle has been and will continue to be a constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of land and public utilities, which limits maximum ownership to 40%.

During the last few years, the relatively closed Philippine economy has been opened significantly by foreign exchange deregulation, foreign investment and banking liberalization, and tariff and market barrier reduction. In addition, foreign entry into the retail trade sector has been liberalized, with S&R Price as the first foreign company to enter the Philippine retailing market. The Macapagal-Arroyo government also enacted the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, which aims to restructure the Philippine electric power industry and privatize the National Power Corporation (NPC or Napocor). This legislation presents opportunities for U.S. firms to participate in the power industry in the Philippines. Information and communications technologies, backroom operations such as call centers, and regional facilities, or shared-service centers are likewise leading investment opportunities.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Manila (E), 1201 Roxas Blvd., P.O. Box 151 Manila. PSC 500, FPO AP 96515-1000. Tel [63] (2) 523-1001, Fax (63) (2) 522-4361; COM OFF.: American Business Center, 25th Fl, Ayala Life-FGU Blding, 6811 Ayala Ave, Makati City; Tel (63) (2) 888-4081 to 98; Fax (63) (2) 888-6606.

AMB: Francis J. Ricciardone
AMB OMS: Sheila K. Donahue
DCM: Joseph A. Mussomeli
POL: William E. Lucas
CON: David T. Donahue
MGT: Robert Lane
IMO: Richard J. Herbert
IPO: Teddy R. Payne
AGR: David C. Miller
COM: David W. Fulton
CUS: David E. Meisner
TSA: Richard W. Hyman
AID: Michael J. Yates
PAO: Ronald J. Post
JUSMAG: COL Mathias R. Velasco
SSA: Thomas H. Ashley
ABMC: Daniel L. Neese


Asian Development Bank (Manila), #6 ADB Avenue, 0401 Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila • P.O. Box 789, 0980 Manila, Tel [632] 632-6050, (632) 632-6051, (632) 632-4444; Fax (632) 632-4003, 632-2084; COM. ADB Off:American Business Center, 25th Floor, Ayala Life-FGU Building, 6811 Ayala Avenue, Makati City; Tel (632) 887-1345, (632) 887-1346; Fax (632) 887-1164.

US EXEC DIR: Paul W. Speltz
US ALT EXEC DIR: Chantale Yok-Min Wong
COM/ADB: Stewart J. Ballard


Cebu (CA), 3rd Fl., PCI Bank Bldg., Gorordo Avenue, Lahug, Cebu City 6000; FPO AP 96515; Tel. [63] (32) 311-261/2; 2310-671; Fax 2310-174.

CA: John Frank Domingo


Last Modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2003




TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
November 24, 2003


Country Description: The Philippines is a developing democratic republic located in Southeast Asia. The archipelago consists of more than 7,000 islands, of which 880 are inhabited. The major island groupings are Luzon in the north, the Visayas in the center, and Mindanao in the south. Tourist facilities are available within population centers and the main tourist areas. English is widely spoken in the Philippines, and most signs are in English.


Entry and Exit Requirements: U.S. citizens may enter the Philippines without a visa upon presentation of their U.S. passport, which must be valid for at least six months after entry, and a return ticket to the United States or an onward ticket to another country. Upon arrival, immigration authorities will annotate the U.S. passport with an entry visa valid for 21 days. If you plan to stay longer than 21 days, you must apply for an extension at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation; Magallanes Driv; Intramuros, Manila, Philippines (http://www.immigration.gov.ph). Persons who overstay their visas are subject to fines and detention by Philippine immigration authorities. American citizens are urged to remain aware of their visa status while in the Philippines and to follow immigration laws and regulations strictly.

There are special requirements for the entry of unaccompanied minors. A Passenger Service Charge, currently 550 Pesos (approximate USD equivalent $11.00), must be paid in Philippine Pesos when departing the country from international airports. For further information on entry/exit requirements, please contact the Embassy of the Philippines at: 1600 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.; Washington, D.C. 20036 (telephone: (202) 467-9300), or via the Internet at http://www.philippineembassyusa.org.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.


Safety/Security: The terrorist threat to American citizens in the Philippines remains high, and the Embassy continues to receive reports of ongoing activities by known terrorist groups. Americans traveling or residing in the Philippines are urged to exercise great caution and maintain heightened security awareness. A number of security-related incidents highlight the risk of travel in certain areas due to incidents of kidnapping, bombings, and other violence and criminal activity.


The Philippine government has been engaged on and off in negotiations with Communist and Muslim rebel groups. Nonetheless, rebel activity and armed banditry in certain areas of the Philippines still pose security concerns. The Communist Party of the Philippines and its terrorist military arm, the New People's Army, operate throughout the country and have issued public threats against U.S. citizens and interests in the Philippines. Americans are urged to exercise caution when traveling throughout the country and are specifically warned to avoid hiking or camping in the vicinity of Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga Province.


In Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, kidnappings, bombings, violence, and insurgent activity make travel hazardous in many areas. The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has kidnapped several Americans and other foreign tourists since April 2000. Some were freed after substantial ransoms were paid, some escaped or were rescued by military action, and some were killed. Other kidnapping gangs operate in the same general area and have abducted a number of foreigners for ransom. The Abu Sayyaf Group continues to issue public threats against U.S. citizens and interests in the Philippines.


Americans should defer non-emergency travel to the island of Mindanao due to recurring bombing incidents and threats of other violence and criminal activity, including kidnapping. Americans should avoid all travel to islands of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Jolo located in the Sulu archipelago in the extreme southwest of the Philippines due to kidnappings and other criminal activity.


In October 2002, the United States Government designated the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) a Foreign Terrorist Organization. JI is an extremist group linked to al-Qaeda and other regional terrorist groups and has cells operating throughout Southeast Asia. Extremist groups in the region have demonstrated a capability to carry out transnational attacks in locations where Westerners congregate. Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.


As a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, U.S. citizens and interests may also be at increased risk of terrorist actions from foreign or domestic extremist groups in the Philippines. There are periodic reports of plans for possible terrorist acts aimed at U.S. Government facilities or personnel, public and private institutions, and transportation carriers. The U.S. Embassy takes all such threats seriously. The State Department reminds all Americans traveling or living abroad of the need to remain vigilant with regard to personal security issues and to always follow some very basic and important security countermeasures: do not establish a pattern or routine in movement and travel; vary the times and routes taken to the extent possible; maintain a low profile; and immediately report any unusual activity, to include possible surveillance, to the Philippine Police and the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Travelers are also encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila at tel. (63) (2) 523-1001 for an update of the current security situation, especially if planning to travel outside the Metro Manila area.


The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquires on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Crime Information: As in many of the major metropolitan areas in the United States, crime is a serious concern in Metro Manila. As a rule of thumb, Americans are advised to exercise good judgment and remain aware of their surroundings. Reports of confidence games, pick-pocketing and credit card fraud are common. Bewary of unknown individuals who attempt to befriend you, especially just after you have arrived in country. A number of recent robberies and assaults involving the "date rape drug" (known locally as Ativan) have occurred; the drug is generally administered to unwitting visitors via food or drink. It is best not to accept food, drink or rides in private vehicles from strangers even if they appear legitimate. There have been several kidnappings and violent assaults of foreigners in the Metro Manila area, although Americans have not been specifically targeted in such crimes. There have also been reports of vehicles with foreign passengers being robbed by gunmen while driving to and from the international airport.

Taxis are the recommended form of public transportation; however, the following safeguards are important: do not enter a taxi if it has already accepted another passenger, and request that the meter be used. If the driver is unwilling to comply with your requests, it is best to wait for another cab. It is also a good idea to make a mental note of the license plate number should there be a problem. When driving in the city, make certain that the doors are locked and the windows rolled up. All other forms of public transportation, such as the light rail system, buses, and "jeepneys" should be avoided for both safety and security reasons.


Visitors should also be vigilant when using credit cards. One common form of credit card fraud involves the illicit use of an electronic device to retrieve and record information, including the PIN, from the card's magnetic strip. The information is then used to make unauthorized purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this scam, never let your card out of your sight.


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.


U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents; U.S. Government Printing Office; Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Adequate medical care is available in major cities, but even the best hospitals may not meet the standards of medical care, sanitation, and facilities provided by hospitals in the United States. Medical care is limited in rural and more remote areas. Most hospitals will require a down payment of estimated fees at the time of admission.


Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost several thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals in the Philippines often expect immediate cash payment for health services. A list of doctors and medical facilities in the Philippines can be found on the web page of the U.S. Embassy in Manila at http://manila.usembassy.gov/.


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.


Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page: http://travel.state.gov.


Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax l-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, please consult the World Heath Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: Travel within the Philippine archipelago is possible by boat, plane, bus, or car. Few tourists rent a car to drive, as the road system is crowded and drivers are undisciplined. Driving off the national highways and paved roads is particularly dangerous, especially at night, and should be avoided. To avoid overcrowded or unsafe transport, Americans should exercise caution in planning travel by older, inter-island ferryboats or other public conveyances.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Philippines is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:


Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Philippine driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. at tel. (202) 467-9300 or via the Internet at http://www.philippineembassyusa.org. Please see also related information from the Philippine Department of Tourism at http://www.tourism.gov.ph and http://www.dotpcvc.gov.ph.


Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Philippines' civil aviation authority as Category 1 — in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of the Philippines' air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. (800) 322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.


Customs Regulations: Philippines customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from the Philippines of items such as firearms and currency. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, D.C. or one of the Philippine consulates in the United States (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco) for specific information regarding customs requirements.


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Philippine laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.


The Bureau of Immigration arrests several Americans each year on immigration charges of "undesirability," sometimes based solely on complaints arising from personal or business disputes in the Philippines. Frequently, these detainees cannot be deported and/or released from custody until substantial fines are paid and any underlying criminal charges are resolved – a process that sometimes takes months or even years.


Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Capital punishment is possible for certain drug-related crimes.

Fraud, swindling and "bad debts" are also serious criminal offenses in the Philippines, as is the illegal recruitment of Philippine citizens for employment overseas. Several Americans are currently serving lengthy prison sentences for illegal recruitment activities. The Philippine government also has strict laws against the possession of firearms, and several foreigners have been sentenced to life imprisonment for bringing firearms into the country. Americans who are arrested overseas should immediately ask to contact a U.S. Embassy representative.


Special Circumstances: Marriage In The Philippines: A foreigner who wishes to marry in the Philippines is required by the Philippine Government to obtain from his/her Embassy a "Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage" before filing an application for a marriage license. Because there is no national register of marriages in the United States, the U.S. Embassy cannot provide such a certification. As a result, the Philippine government will accept an "Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage" in its place. Americans may execute this affidavit at the U.S. Embassy in Manila any day, Monday-Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. except for Philippine or American holidays. The American must present his/her U.S. passport. There is a fee of $30.00 or its peso equivalent for the affidavit, payable in cash only. Philippine authorities will not accept any substitute document initiated in the United States. U.S. military personnel should contact their personnel office before traveling to the Philippines regarding Department of Defense joint service regulations.


Execution of the affidavit by a U.S. consular officer is a notarial act and, as such, the consular officer is authorized by U.S. law to refuse to perform the service if the document will be used for a purpose patently unlawful, improper, or inimical to the best interests of the United States (see 22 C.F.R. section 92.9b). Entering into a marriage contract for the principal purpose of facilitating immigration to the United States for an alien is an unlawful act, and the U.S. Code provides penalties for individuals who commit perjury in an affidavit taken by a consular officer.

The Marriage Application Process: Once an American citizen has obtained from the U.S. Embassy an "Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage," he/she may file an application for a marriage license at the office of the Philippine Civil Registrar in the town or city where one of the parties is a resident. The U.S. citizen applicant must present: (a) the affidavit; (b) the divorce decree(s) or death certificate(s), if applicable, required to verify civil status and legal capacity to contract marriage; (c) their U.S. passport; and (d) documentation regarding parental consent or advice, if applicable. (Persons aged 18 to 21 must have written parental consent to marry in the Philippines; those aged 22 to 24 must have received parental advice. Philippine law prohibits marriage for persons under the age of 18.) A judge, a minister or other person authorized by the Government of the Philippines can perform the marriage.


Marriage to a U.S. citizen confers neither citizenship nor an automatic eligibility for entry to the United States. An immigrant visa is required for a foreign spouse to live in the United States. Questions about filing an immigrant visa petition to bring a foreign spouse to the United States should be directed to the nearest office of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the State Department's Visa Office (telephone: (202) 663-1225) or, while in the Philippines, to the U.S. Embassy Immigrant Visa Unit at http://manila.usembassy.gov/wwwh3023.html.


Disaster Preparedness: The Philippines is a volcano-, typhoon- and earthquake-prone country. During the rainy season (May to November), there are typhoons and flash floods. Flooding can cause road delays and cut off bridges. Typhoons in the vicinity of the Philippines can interrupt air and sea links within the country.

Volcanic activity is frequent, and periodically the Government of the Philippines announces alerts for specific volcanoes. Earthquakes can also occur throughout the country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.


Children's Issues: Under Philippine law, the mother and father of a child are held to exercise parental control jointly, and child custody cases are considered civil disputes. Parental abduction is not a crime. The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For specific information on child custody cases in the Philippines, please consult the web page of the U.S. Embassy in Manila at http://manila.usembassy.gov/.


For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Registration/Embassy and Consular Agency Location: Americans living in or visiting the Philippines are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines and obtain updated information on travel and security within the Philippines. The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard; Manila, Philippines tel. (63)(2) 528-6300. The Consular American Citizen Services (ACS) section's fax number is (63)(2) 522-3242 and the ACS web page is at manila.usembassy.gov/wwwh3004. html.

The U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu provides limited services for U.S. citizens. The Consular Agency address is: Business Office, Waterfront Hotel; Lahug, Cebu City, tel. (63) (32) 231-1261.


International Parental Child Abduction

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, American Citizen Services. For more information, please read the Guarding Against International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov


General Information: The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the Philippines and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. Therefore, there is no treaty remedy by which the left behind parent would be able to pursue recovery of the child/ren should they be abducted to or wrongfully retained in the Philippines. Once in the Philippines, the child/ren would be completely subject to Philippine law for all matters including custody.


The United States is not a party to any treaty or convention on the enforcement of court orders. A custody decree issued by a court in the U.S. has no binding legal force abroad, although it may have a persuasive force in some countries. Furthermore, a U.S. custody decree may be considered by foreign courts and authorities as evidence and, in some cases, foreign courts may voluntarily recognize and enforce it on the basis of comity (the voluntary recognition by courts of one jurisdiction of the laws and judicial decisions of another).


Custody Disputes: Parental child abduction is not a crime under Philippine law. Custody disputes are considered civil legal matters that must be resolved between the concerned parties or through the courts in the Philippines. Philippine authorities advise the American Embassy that generally the Philippine courts will give custody of children under the age of seven to the mother, provided there is no evidence that would indicate that the mother is unfit to raise the child. Although there is no treaty in force between the United States and the Philippines on enforcement of judgments, the Philippine courts will also take into consideration child custody decrees issued by foreign courts in deciding disputes regarding children residing in the Philippines.

The Department of Justice in the Philippines states that, in general, redress in child custody cases is sought through habeas corpus orders/proceedings in court. These orders can be obtained on an expedited basis and direct law enforcement to locate and take a child into custody for the purposes of an emergency hearing. Ideally, these orders and proceedings ensure due process under the local laws as well as providing protection for the child/ren.


In order to bring a custody issue before the Domestic Relations/Family Court, the left-behind parent will require the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in the Philippines. A parent holding a custody decree issued in U.S. courts must therefore retain local counsel in the Philippines to apply to the Philippine courts for recognition and enforcement of the U.S. decree, or to invoke the writ of habeas corpus. Although visitation rights for non-custodial parents are not expressly stipulated in the Philippine Civil Code, court judgments often provide visitation rights for non-custodial parents.


U.S. consular officers are prohibited by U.S. federal regulations from providing legal advice, from taking custody of a child, from forcing a child to be returned to the United States, from providing assistance or refuge to parents attempting to violate local law, or from initiating or attempting to influence child custody proceedings in foreign courts.


The American Citizen Services division of the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy can assist in locating children believed to be in the Philippines and in verifying the child's welfare. If a child is in danger or if there is evidence of abuse, consular officers will request assistance from the local authorities in safeguarding the child's welfare. Consular officers maintain lists of attorneys practicing in the particular areas of the Philippines, as well as general information regarding child custody practices.


Deportation: While there is an extradition treaty between the United States and the Philippines, parental child abduction is not an extraditable offense. However, if the taking parent is a U.S. citizen whose U.S. passport has been revoked due to an outstanding federal Unlawful Flight to avoid Prosecution (UFAP) warrant or indictment on charges of International Parental Kidnapping (IPKCA) in violation of 18 USC Section 1204, Philippine authorities may consider deportation based on lack of a valid travel document.


Reaching the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that serves the Philippines: The U.S. Embassy in Manila is located at 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila City; tel. (63-2) 523-1001. The Consular American Citizen Services fax number is (63-2) 522-3242 and the ACS web page is http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/rp1/wwwh3004.html. The U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu provides limited services for U.S. citizens. The Consular Agency address is: Third Floor, PCI Bank, Gorordo Avenue, Lahug, Cebu City; tel. (63-32) 231-1261.


Reaching the Foreign Country's Embassy in the U.S.: For further information, contact the Embassy of the Philippines, 1600 Mass. Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 (202/467-9300) or nearest Consulate General: CA (213/387-5321 and 415/433-6666), HI (808/595-6316), IL (312/332-6458), NY (212/764-1330), or Guam (671/646-4620). Internet address: http://us.sequel.net/RPinUS/

Public Announcement
January 16, 2004


This Public Announcement has been updated to remind travelers of general security concerns in the Philippines, particularly on Mindanao. It supersedes the Public Announcement issued July 16, 2003, and expires on May 31, 2004.


The terrorist threat to Americans in the Philippines remains high, and the Embassy continues to receive reports of ongoing activities by known terrorist groups. In view of a number of security-related incidents and the possibility of future terrorism, and other violence or criminal activity, Americans traveling to or residing in the Philippines are urged to exercise great caution and maintain heightened security awareness. Extremist groups present in Southeast Asia, such as Jemaah Islamiyah, have demonstrated transnational capabilities to carry out attacks against locations where Westerners congregate. Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.


Bombings have claimed many lives and injured hundreds in the Philippines during the past year, particularly on Mindanao. A bombing at a sports arena in Maguindanao Province on January 4, 2004, killed at least 15 persons and injured dozens more. A bombing at the international airport in Davao on March 4, 2003, killed at least 20 people, including one American, and injured over 140 others. Other explosive devices have been discovered and defused prior to detonation in these and other areas of Mindanao. The Government of the Philippines has condemned these incidents as acts of terrorism.


U.S. citizens are urged to defer nonemergency travel to the island of Mindanao due to recurring bombing incidents and threats of other violence and criminal activity, including kidnapping. U.S. citizens should avoid all travel to the islands of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Jolo, located in the Sulu archipelago in the extreme southwest of the Philippines, due to kidnappings and other criminal activity. Americans residing in Mindanao and in the Sulu archipelago should carefully review their security posture, take appropriate action to secure their well-being, and remain in close contact with the Embassy for current information. As a precaution, the U.S. Government has restricted travel by official personnel to these areas.

A number of bomb-related incidents have also occurred in Metro Manila in recent years. The U.S. Embassy urges Americans to avoid crowds and crowded places, including, among other places, nightclubs and bars, and to exercise special caution in public places or when using public transportation.


The terrorist New People's Army (NPA), the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, operates throughout the Philippines and has issued public threats against U.S. citizens and interests in the Philippines. in January 2002, an American tourist was shot and killed by an unidentified gunman on the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga Province, an area known for NPA activity. Americans are warned to avoid hiking or camping in this area and are advised to exercise caution when traveling elsewhere in the Philippines due to armed clashes between the New People's Army and government troops in some areas. Americans are also advised to exercise special caution when traveling throughout the Philippines around the time of the national elections in May 2004, as election–related violence has been widely reported during previous elections, especially in areas where the NPA remains active.


Extortionists have kidnapped several Filipinos and foreigners, including three American children, in recent years. Kidnappers operating in Metro Manila and throughout the Philippines have snatched family members of prominent local business leaders and politicians for financial gain, to make a political statement, or as part of business, land, or personal disputes.

The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) continues to issue public threats against U.S. citizens and interests in the Philippines. The Abu Sayyaf Group has taken hostage large numbers of Filipinos, Americans and foreign tourists since April 2000. Several were freed after substantial ransoms were paid, some escaped or were rescued by military action, and some were killed. In 2002, one American hostage was killed and an other injured during a rescue operation after spending more than a year in captivity. Because Abu Sayyaf has demonstrated its ability to travel long distances by boat to kidnap foreigners, such as the May 2001 kidnapping operation in Palawan, it is possible that other locations in the Philippines, such as beach resorts, could be attacked. Americans should particularly avoid beach resorts in areas where the Abu Sayyaf Group remains active.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for the Philippines and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, which are available at the Department of State's website, http://travel.state.gov.

views updated

PHILIPPINES

Republic of the Philippines

Republika ng Pilipinas

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

Made up of about 7,100 islands, the Philippines is on the southeastern rim of Asia and is bordered by the Philippine Sea on the east, the South China Sea on the west, the Luzon Strait on the north, and the Celebes Sea on the south. Its land area, which is slightly larger than that of Arizona, measures 300,000 square kilometers (115,830 square miles), and its coastline is 36,289 kilometers (22,550 miles). The capital, Manila, is on the island of Luzon in the highly urbanized National Capital Region, which is made up of 12 other urban areas including the cities of Mandaluyong, Marikina, Pasig, Quezon, Kalookan, Valenzuela, Las Piñas, Makati, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, and Pasay. The main financial district is in Makati City.

POPULATION.

The Philippine population has more than tripled since 1948, from 19 million to an official estimate of 81.16 million in 2000. From 1995 to 2000, and the annual population growth rate stood at 2.02 percent, slightly lower than in 1990 and one-third less than the growth rate of 3 percent during the 1960s.

The population of the Philippines is young, with people aged between 15-64 years making up 59 percent of the population, while those under 15 make up 37 percent of the population. Those aged 65 years and above make up only 4 percent of the population.

In January 2000, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) warned of the serious consequences of the booming Philippine population. It predicted the population will double by 2030 based on its 1999 growth rate of 2.3 percent, giving the Philippines "the equivalent of 58 percent of the current population of the United States [living] on 3 percent of its land area," a situation with "grave consequences" for the Philippine economy, society, and the environment.

The country is divided into 3 island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, known together as Luzviminda. These 3 groups are further subdivided into 16 regions. The 2000 National Census lists 61 chartered cities and 73 provinces in the Philippines, with the most populated regions in Luzon. Four out of ten persons in the Philippines lives in the National Capital Region and the adjoining regions of Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

The Philippine economy has experienced repeated boom-and-bust cycles in the 5 decades since the nation achieved independence from the United States in 1946. In the 1950s and early 1960s its economy ranked as the second most progressive in Asia, next to that of Japan. After 1965, when Ferdinand E. Marcos became president, the nation experienced economic problems and social unrest, especially from the 1970s, when corruption and cronyism (the practice of appointing friends to well-paid posts regardless of their qualifications) took hold. In 1972, Marcos declared a state of emergency and placed the country under martial law to stifle unrest and control economic development. By his third term in 1981, democratic institutions in the country had severely eroded, foreign debt ballooned, and the country's economy plummeted. In less than 20 years, the Philippines had gone from relative prosperity to becoming the "sick man of Asia." In 1983, the leader of the political opposition, former senator Benigno Aquino, was assassinated upon his returned from exile in the United States.

Marcos was removed from office in 1986 through a peaceful "People Power" revolution in which millions of people demonstrated in the streets. Aquino's widow, Corazon, became president, and a new constitution was approved in 1987. Meanwhile, the GDP growth rate increased steadily from 3.5 percent in 1986 to 4.3 percent in 1987, peaking in 1988 at 6.7 percent. The Aquino administration endured many troubles, including 6 coup d'etat attempts, many natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, the Mt. Pinatubo eruption), and a power shortage problem that caused economic activities to stop. During this period, the Aquino administration passed various critical laws such as a liberal Foreign Investment Act, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, and the privatization of government corporations that brought the economy back to its feet.

Aquino's successor, Fidel Ramos, embarked on an ambitious development plan dubbed "Philippines 2000." Under the plan, several industries critical to economic development were privatized, such as electricity, telecommunications, banking, domestic shipping, and oil. The taxation system was reformed, and external debt was brought to more manageable levels by debt restructuring and sensible fiscal management. By 1996, GNP was growing at a rate of 7.2 percent and GDP at 5.2 percent. The annual inflation rate had dropped to 5.9 percent from its high of 9.1 percent in 1995. By the late 1990s, the Philippines' economic growth gained favorable comparisons with other Asian countries such as Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, and Malaysia.

The Philippine economy took a sharp downturn during the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Its fiscal deficit in 1998 reached P49.981 billion from a surplus of P1.564 billion in 1997. The peso depreciated (fell in value) to P40.89 per U.S. dollar from its previous rate of P29.47 to a dollar. The annual growth rate of the GNP fell to 0.1 percent in 1998 from 5.3 percent in 1997. Despite these setbacks, the Philippine economy fared better than that of some of its Asian neighbors, and other nations praised the Ramos administration for its "good housekeeping."

In 1998, Joseph Estrada was elected president. Even with its strong economic team, the Estrada administration failed to capitalize on the gains of the previous administration. His administration was severely criticized for cronyism, incompetence, and corruption, causing it to lose the confidence of foreign investors. Foreign investors' confidence was further damaged when, in his second year, Estrada was accused of exerting influence in an investigation of a friend's involvement in stock market manipulation. Social unrest brought about by numerous bombing threats, actual bombings, kidnappings, and other criminal activities contributed to the economy's troubles. Economic performance was also hurt by climatic disturbance that caused extremes of dry and wet weather. Toward the end of Estrada's administration, the fiscal deficit had doubled to more than P100 billion from a low of P49 billion in 1998. Despite such setbacks, the rate of GNP in 1999 increased to 3.6 percent from 0.1 percent in 1998, and the GDP posted a 3.2 percent growth rate, up from a low of-0.5 percent in 1998. Debt reached P2.1 trillion in 1999. Domestic debt amounted to P986.7 billion while foreign debt stood at US$52.2 billion. In January 2001 Estrada was removed from office by a second peaceful "People Power" revolution engineered primarily by youth, non-governmental organizations, and the business sector. President Estrada was the first Philippine president to be impeached by Congress, and his vice-president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, became the fourteenth President of the Republic.

The economy of the Philippines is hampered by huge foreign debt, a low savings rate, inefficient tax collection, inadequate infrastructure , especially outside major cities, and poor agricultural performance. The Philippine economy is vulnerable to oil-price increases, interest-rate shifts by the U.S. Federal Reserve, and the performance of international stock exchanges. Social factors that have a negative impact on the economy include a high crime rate, especially kidnappings and rape, pockets of Communist rebels in rural areas, threats from Muslim separatist movements, high rates of poverty and unemployment, and the government's inability to begin its land-distribution program. Environmental factors also damage economic development, including frequent typhoons and drought. Worker productivity is adversely affected by illnesses brought on by air and water pollution. In metropolitan Manila alone, the effect of pollution on health and labor productivity has been estimated to be equal to a loss of about 1 percent of gross national product annually.

Foreign aid, or official development assistance (ODA) funds, have contributed immensely to the development of the nation's economy. Through grants and loans extended by development agencies and international creditors, the government is able to finance infrastructure development (bridges, roads, highways, railways, transportation systems) and social programs (livelihood projects, training seminars, immunization programs, and environmental projects). Since the late 1990s, ODA funds have helped improve living conditions in the most depressed rural areas, especially in Mindanao, Southern Philippines, mostly via agricultural programs. In 1999 most funds were allocated to agricultural programs. About 95 percent of ODA assistance is distributed in loans, with the remainder in grants.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

The government of the Republic of the Philippines is composed of 3 equal branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial, with checks and balances on each other.

The popularly elected president is the nation's highest executive official. The legislature is divided into 2 chambers, a Senate (upper chamber) of 24 members and a House of Representatives (lower chamber) of a maximum of 260 members. The Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice and 14 associate justices, is the highest judicial body, and acts as the final arbiter of the legal validity of any executive or legislative policy. In 1991 a Local Government Code was enacted that transferred some of national government powers to local government officials. Administratively, the country is divided into political subdivisions such as provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays (villages). Each political subdivision has its own local government, which enjoys a certain level of autonomy (self-governance) and is legally entitled to an equitable share of the national wealth called the Internal Revenue Allotment.

The country practices a multi-party system. Political parties are required to register with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to which they must present a constitution, by-laws, and platform. In practice, parties in the Philippines are very weak and merely exist to host individual political ambitions. Hence, it is not unusual for new political parties to crop up just weeks before election time and dissolve after the elections, with winning candidates merely transferring to the dominant party.

Elections in the Philippines are often swayed by patronage (support given by a moneyed or influential individual) and the personality of the candidate. In fact, it is unusual for candidates to discuss their platforms during campaign rallies since many of those who attend such rallies are usually more interested in watching the entertainers that accompany these candidates than the candidates themselves. In 2001, after the ouster of former president Joseph Estrada, formerly a well-known movie star, reformers called for an end to personality-oriented elections and for campaigns built around a relevant discussion of national issues.

The military plays a significant role in the economy by ensuring peace and order in the country, particularly in Mindanao, southern Philippines, where a long-term war against rebels continues to be waged. In special instances, military personnel are partnered with police personnel to patrol the cities and minimize urban crime. The navy also guards the country's coastal borders against poachers and illegal fishing vessels, which deplete the country's coastal resources.

The policies and programs of government are funded by various taxes imposed at the national and local levels, and by borrowing. Taxes are collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs. Domestic corporations, resident citizens, and resident aliens are taxed on their net income from all sources, worldwide, while resident foreign corporations are taxed on their Philippine net income. Government also generates funds from other offices, such as the Land Transportation Office, which collect taxes for specific government services. Other sources of revenue are derived from the sale of government corporations to the private sector , fees and service incomes of various government agencies, foreign grants, and proceeds from the sale of transferred, surrendered, and privatized assets.

Revenue earned by government is usually inadequate to finance its programs and activities. Bernardo Villegas, an economist at the University of Asia and the Pacific, explains that for a developing country like the Philippines to remedy this situation, the government must resort to borrowing money either from external or domestic sources, such as via treasury bills , notes, and bonds issued as collateral (property pledged by a borrower to guarantee the investment of a lender) for domestic loans. Foreign sources are used because there is no adequate, long-term source of capital in the country, a situation that is made worse by the country's low savings rate. Funds borrowed abroad are readily available and come with lower interest rates. International lending institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation are some of the country's foreign creditors. Borrowing has increased the national debt to P2.1 trillion. Domestic debt at the end of 1999 reached P986.7 billion, while foreign debt stood at US$52.2 billion.

In the past, the government has played an active role in influencing the country's economy, often to the displeasure of the business sector, which wants the economy left to market forces with minimal government intervention. Like many developing countries, the Philippines' economic policies include import substitution policies and the promotion of labor-intensive industries to support a burgeoning workforce. The government also exerts control over the economy through the regulation or prohibition of monopolies , the sourcing and formation of capital, the provision of private incentives, and through the regulation of strategic sectors that are vital to national interests.

Government in developing countries, such as the Philippines, must take charge of building strategic infrastructure, such as farm-to-market roads and bridges linking landlocked areas, to stimulate the exchange of goods and services between localities. It is also the govern-ment's function to protect natural resources from illegal exploitation.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

The transport infrastructure includes 492 kilometers (306 miles) of working railroads and 199,950 kilometers (124,249 miles) of roads, of which 39,590 kilometers (24,601 miles) are paved. In the first quarter of 2000, infrastructure projects got the biggest share of official development assistance (ODA) loans, taking 66 percent of the $11.4 billion ODA package extended to the Philippines. Among the projects are plans to decongest traffic by expanding roads and building bridges and highway interchanges.

The Philippine archipelago has more than 1,490 ports that serve to connect its major islands. As of 1996, there were 566 registered cargo and container ships, and total cargo handled was estimated at 140.1 million tons. The busiest national port is in Manila. Ninety percent of the country's imports and more than 20 percent of its exports pass through its South Harbor and the Manila International Container Terminal. In February 2001 the Philippine Ports Authority earmarked US$122 million to upgrade port services here and in even other locations.

As of 1999, there were 266 registered airports and 5 domestic airlines operating in the Philippines. Beginning in 2000, the government and its private-sector partners speeded up the schedule for the construction and upgrading of at least 20 airports to enable them to meet world standards by 2004.

Communications
Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Philippines 79 159 108 8.2 22 N/A 15.1 1.29 500
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
China N/A 333 272 40.0 19 1.6 8.9 0.50 8,900
Indonesia 24 156 136 N/A 5 0.9 8.2 0.76 900
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium (http://www.isc.org) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

In 1986 the country's economy was severely crippled by continuous power shortages that lasted more than 10 hours daily, paralyzing the manufacturing sector. In 1992 the Ramos administration took steps to resolve this problem by allowing private operators to build more power plants that substantially improved the country's power-generating capacity. By March 2000, 74 percent of the country's households had access to electric service, and dependence on oil-run power plants was reduced to 19 percent from a previous high of 80 percent. Power is now generated from several sources, including coal (38 percent), geothermal (27 percent), and hydro-electric (16 percent). The opening of the offshore Malampaya gas field in Palawan will further reduce dependence on foreign oil with its initial production rate of 145 billion cubic feet annually, which can be used to create 2,700 megawatts of power.

Under the Ramos administration, the monopolistic (one company in control) telecommunications industry was opened up to competition and by 2001 there were more than 50 firms offering service. Telephone density per 100 inhabitants nearly tripled during the 1990s, from 3 lines per 100 inhabitants in 1992 to 8 lines in 1998. In 1999 there were 1.9 million main lines in use and another 1.95 million cellular telephones, plus 93 Internet service providers. In September 2000, Globe Telecom and 7 other telecommunication carriers in the Asia-Pacific region agreed to create the C2C Cable Network, an under-sea fiber-optic-cable system, worth US$2 billion. Upon completion, the C2C network will be able to accommodate 90 million conversations simultaneously.

The Philippines has been recognized as the global capital for text messaging, a feature of digital mobile phones virtually ignored in other countries. This allows the user to type brief messages and send it to another mobile phone. Each day, more than 18 million text messages are transmitted in the country, twice as many as in all of Europe. However, high fees make this service still out of reach for most people.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

In the Philippines, the 3 largest economic sectors are industry, service, and agriculture, in terms of contribution to GDP. In past years, the service sector has exhibited continuous growth. Agriculture, although still substantial, continues to decline. Estimates from 1997 reveal that agriculture contributed 20 percent to GDP, industry contributed 32 percent, and services dominated the economy with 48 percent of GDP.

In 1999 the rate of growth of the GDP stood at 3.2 percent. Economists blamed the sluggish growth on the lackluster performance of the industry sector, which grew by 0.5 percent. With the end of the dry spell brought about by El Niño weather conditions, the agriculture sector's performance rebounded and grew 6.6 percent, the highest rate in decades. Services grew by 3.9 percent that year because of the strong performance in retail .

Maximum economic growth for 1999 and 2000 was slowed by successive political crises in the Estrada administration that caused foreign and international lending agencies to lose confidence. In 2000 GDP posted a 3.9 percent positive growth rate, with industry growing 4 times faster than it did in 1999. Services continued its strong performance, with a 4.4 percent increase over its 1999 figures.

AGRICULTURE

The Philippines is still primarily an agricultural country despite the plan to make it an industrialized economy by 2000. Most citizens still live in rural areas and support themselves through agriculture. The country's agriculture sector is made up of 4 sub-sectors: farming, fisheries, livestock, and forestry (the latter 2 sectors are very small), which together employ 39.8 percent of the labor force and contribute 20 percent of GDP.

The country's main agricultural crops are rice, corn, coconut, sugarcane, bananas, pineapple, coffee, mangoes, tobacco, and abaca (a banana-like plant). Secondary crops include peanut, cassava, camote (a type of rootcrop), garlic, onion, cabbage, eggplant, calamansi (a variety of lemon), rubber, and cotton. The year 1998 was a bad year for agriculture because of adverse weather conditions. Sector output shrank by 8.3 percent, but it posted growth the following year. Yet, hog farming and commercial fishing posted declines in their gross revenues in 1999. The sector is burdened with low productivity for most of its crops.

The Philippines exports its agricultural products around the world, including the United States, Japan, Europe, and ASEAN countries (members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Major export products are coconut oil and other coconut products, fruits and vegetables, bananas, and prawns (a type of shrimp). Other exports include the Cavendish banana, Cayenne pineapple, tuna, seaweed, and carrageenan. The value of coconut-product exports amounted to US$989 million in 1995 but declined to US$569 million by 2000. Imported agricultural products include unmilled wheat and meslin, oilcake and other soybean residues, malt and malt flour, urea, flour, meals and pellets of fish, soybeans and whey.

One of the most pressing concerns of the agricultural sector is the rampant conversion of agricultural land into golf courses, residential subdivisions, and industrial parks or resorts. In 1993 the nation was losing irrigated rice lands at a rate of 2,300 hectares per year. Small land-holders find it more profitable to sell their land to developers in exchange for cash, especially since they lack capital for seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and wages for hiring workers to plant and harvest the crops. Another concern is farmers' continued reliance on chemical-based fertilizers or pesticides that have destroyed soil productivity over time. In recent years however, farmers have been slowly turning to organic fertilizer, or at least to a combination of chemical and organic inputs.

Environmental damage is another major concern. Coral-reef destruction, pollution of coastal and marine resources, mangrove forest destruction, and siltation (the clogging of bodies of water with silt deposits) are significant problems.

The agriculture sector has not received adequate resources for the funding of critical programs or projects, such as the construction of efficient irrigation systems. According to the World Bank, the share of irrigated crop land in the Philippines averaged only about 19.5 percent in the mid-1990s, compared with 37.5 percent for China, 24.8 percent for Thailand, and 30.8 percent for Vietnam. In the late 1990s, the government attempted to modernize the agriculture sector with the Medium Term Agricultural Development Plan and the Agricultural Fisheries Modernization Act.

The fisheries sector is divided into 3 sub-sectors: commercial, municipal, and aquaculture (cultivation of the natural produce of bodies of water). In 1995, the Philippines contributed 2.2 million tons, or 2 percent of total world catch, ranking it twelfth among the top 80 fish-producing countries. In the same year, the country also earned the distinction of being the fourth biggest producer of seaweed and ninth biggest producer of world aquaculture products.

In 1999 the fisheries sector contributed P80.4 billion at current prices, or 16 percent of gross value added in agriculture. Total production in 1999 reached 2.7 million tons. Aquaculture contributed the most, with 949,000 tons, followed closely by commercial fishing with 948,000 tons, and municipal fisheries with 910,000 tons. Domestic demand for fish is substantial, with average yearly fish consumption at 36kg per person compared to a 12kg figure for consumption of meat and other food products.

INDUSTRY

In 2000 following the Asian economic slump of the late 1990s, industrial sectors (manufacturing, transportation, communication and storage, mining and quarrying) all posted positive growth rates, lifting the entire economy from the previous year's lackluster performance. Yet, the construction industry suffered because of the lack of long-term investments by the private sector. Although public construction grew by 15 percent from 1998 to 1999, private construction sank to 11 percent because of real estate oversupply. Mining and quarrying continued to suffer from low metal prices in the world market.

In the Philippines, small and medium enterprises make up 99 percent of all manufacturing companies. Revenue of the top 420 manufacturing firms increased by 9.9 percent in 1998. In 2000 manufacturing accounted for almost a quarter of the country's production. According to the Labor Department's January 2001 Labor Force Survey, 9.8 percent of all workers were employed in this sector.

The manufacturing sector produces the country's top export products such as semiconductors, electronics, machinery and transport equipment, and garments. Exports of electronics and semiconductors generated US$17.4 billion in 1998 and US$21.6 billion in 1999. Other chief imports of this sector include paper and paper products, textile yarn and fabrics, nonmetallic minerals, iron and steel, and metal products. Most of the large and medium manufacturing companies are in special export-processing zones or industrial parks. Some provinces have been specially designated to host these companies, such as the CALABARZON area which is made up of 4 provinces: Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon.

SERVICES

According to the 2001 Labor Force Survey, employment in the service sector rose to 13.2 million in 2000, up from 12.7 million in 1999. The proportion of workers in the Philippines service sector increased accordingly, from 45.8 percent to 46.8 percent.

RETAIL.

The Philippines has a variety of retail establishments scattered throughout the country, from small village-based general stores that supply all the needs of a small community to a web of specialized stores in the larger cities. The wholesale and retail sector was affected by the economic slowdown in 1998, so retailers and wholesalers tried to increase consumer spending with aggressive marketing campaigns, quarterly sales, and discount promotions. In 1999 revenue rose to P145.41 billion from a low of P138.64 in 1998. Around this time, the retail sector was opened to foreign competition by the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, which allows foreign retailers to conduct business and fully own enterprises as long as they meet certain capitalization (available funds) requirements.

TOURISM.

According to the Department of Tourism (DOT), which works with other government agencies to improve infrastructure and guarantee peace and order in the country, the Philippines was the twelfth ranked tourist destination in Asia in 1997. In Southeast Asia, the Philippines ranked fifth, behind Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. In 1999, 2.17 million tourists visited the country, mostly from East Asia, followed by North America and Europe. These tourists spent $2.55 billion in the country. The country offers nearly 12,000 rooms in numerous hotels. To attract more tourists, as well as to encourage locals to travel to other areas of the country, the government implemented 5 major programs in 1999. Among these programs were the promotion of community-based tourism, the rehabilitation of the world-renowned Ifugao rice terraces, and the promotion of Manila as a multi-faceted destination. Also introduced were programs geared toward overseas workers and attracting expatriate (living abroad), third-and fourth-generation Filipinos to visit their homeland, and programs highlighting cultural artifacts and national heritage. The Philippines boasts some of the best scuba diving in the world, and its World War II sites are also major tourist attractions.

COMMUNICATIONS.

In the early 1990s, the monopoly of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) was abolished and the sector was opened to competition. Two telecommunications companies, Globe Communications and Smart Communications, are locked in battle over mobile-phone market share. By 1999, Globe was leading with 720,000 subscribers, but Smart followed closely behind. The call-center service business is thriving with the entry of foreign companies like America Online, Etelecare International, People Support, and Getronics. Although still in its infancy, the industry is expected to expand, aided by the availability of workers proficient in English, suitable facilities, and government incentives.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

EXPORTS.

The growth and stability of the Philippine economy is dependent on foreign trade, particularly on the dollar revenue generated from export. For this reason, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has established an Export Development Council to oversee the growth of this sector as guided by the Philippine Export Development Plan. The plan uses a comprehensive approach in promoting Philippine exports to world markets. Another organization that assists the DTI in export promotion is the Center for International Trade Exposition Missions (CITEM), which assists Filipino exporters in marketing and promoting their products through regular trade fairs, trade missions, and other export-promotion programs and activities at home and abroad.

The primary trading partners of the Philippines have always been the United States and Japan, both former colonizers. Trade with these 2 countries has accounted for 50 to 60 percent of Philippine exports for the last 10 years. The Philippines also trades with Singapore, the

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Philippines
Exports Imports
1975 2.294 3.756
1980 5.741 8.295
1985 4.607 5.459
1990 8.068 13.041
1995 17.502 28.337
1998 27.783 30.705
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

Netherlands, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Germany, and Thailand.

Labor-intensive industrial manufacturers dominate the Philippine export scene. Electronics and semiconductors continue to lead the country's top-10 export products, generating US$1.74 billion in 1998 and US$2.16 billion in 1999. Officials of the Department of Science and Technology predict that earnings from electronic exports will reach US$4.7 billion by 2004. A 1997 government survey revealed that 75 percent of the 784 firms in the country's export-processing zones were electronics manufacturers, and that these firms account for 59 percent of the country's exports. Other important export products are machinery and transport equipment, garments and coconut products, furniture and fixtures, bananas, processed food and beverages, and textile yarns.

Trade officials have forecast that Philippine merchandise exports are likely to hit the US$50 billion mark by the end of 2001, up from $35 billion in 1999. Philippine foreign trade continues to increase every year. In 1998 and 1998, the Philippines posted positive export growth rates16.9 percent and 18.8 percentwhen those of other Asian countries were in decline.

IMPORTS.

Imports for 1999 were $30.7 billion. The country's top 10 imports are electronic components, telecommunications equipment and electrical machinery, mineral fuels and lubricants, industrial machinery and equipment, textile yarn and fabric, transport equipment, iron and steel, and organic and inorganic chemicals. The Philippines has attempted several strategies to correct the trade imbalance where imports exceed exports. These strategies range from exchange and import controls to raising tariffs for imported products. Despite these efforts, imports have continued to surpass exports for the last 30 years, except in 1973. This forces the government to borrow from international lending agencies to pay for the products that it imports, which are paid for in foreign currencies, commonly in U.S. dollars. These loans are compounded by interest, which further increases the national debt. Over the last 2 decades, this imbalance has been eased somewhat by the money sent by Filipinos working abroad to their families, estimated at US$6.8 million in 1999, a substantial rise over the US$4.5 million figure for 1998.

The major countries importing goods to the Philippines are the United States (22 percent), Japan (20 percent), South Korea (8 percent), Singapore (6 percent), Taiwan (5 percent), and Hong Kong (4 percent), according to 1998 estimates.

MONEY

In the late 1950s, the exchange rate for the Philippine peso against the U.S. dollar was 2 to 1. Because the

Exchange rates: Philippines
Philippine pesos (P) per US$1
Jan 2001 50.969
2000 44.192
1999 39.089
1998 40.893
1997 29.471
1996 26.216
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

country's economy was undermined by flawed economic policies, innumerable political crises, and a ballooning foreign debt, the peso continued to weaken so that by 1972, the average exchange rate was P6.67 to $1 and, by 1982, at P8.54 to $1. By 1986, the peso had depreciated (lost its value) further and the average exchange rate was P20.39 to US$1, sinking to P40.8 during the 1997 Asian financial crisis. In 2000, at the height of the political crisis that hit the Estrada administration, the peso hit rock bottom at P55 to US$1. Immediately upon Estrada's ouster, the peso gained strength against the U.S. dollar and stabilized at the average exchange rate of P48.50 to a dollar.

In the late 1980s, the government began a series of financial reforms aimed at strengthening the banking sector. One of the most important was the restructuring and infusion of fresh capital to the nation's central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which had become bankrupt following successive political and economic crises in the 1980s. Under the New Central Bank Act of 1993, the central bank was granted "increased fiscal and administrative autonomy (self-government) from other sectors of the government." The act also prohibits the Central Bank from engaging in development banking or financing.

The most important of the agencies overseeing the monetary policy of the Philippines are the Department of Finance, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines).

The Department of Finance is the government's central finance office, which manages and mobilizes resources to insure that government policies inspire confidence in foreign investors. This Department manages the bureaus of Internal Revenue, Customs, Treasury and Local Government Finance, and supervises the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation, charged with overseeing the stock market and guaranteeing bank deposits. The Department of Budget and Management is responsible for the formulation and implementation of the national budget and for the sound utilization of government funds to achieve the country's development goals. The re-organized Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas conducts monetary policy, issues currency, supervises lending to other banks and the government, manages foreign currency reserves, determines exchange rate policy, and provides other banking functions to the government.

BANKING SECTOR.

There are 5 types of banks in the Philippines: universal banks (also called "expanded commercial banks"), commercial banks, thrift banks, rural banks, and government-owned banks. Thrift banks, which include savings and mortgage banks, private development banks, and stock and savings associations, service mainly the consumer retail market and small- and medium-size enterprises. The rural banking system services the needs of the agricultural sector, farmers, and rural cooperatives. There are 3 fully government-owned banks: the Land Bank of the Philippines, the Development Bank of the Philippines, and the Al Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines. The banking sector encountered great difficulty during the Asian financial crisis in 1997, but owing to past reforms, the financial condition of the Philippine banking system has been more stable compared to several of its neighboring countries, and major bank failures have been avoided.

STOCK EXCHANGES.

The Manila Stock Exchange was established by American businessmen in 1927 after a gold boom. In order to protect its investors, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was set up in 1936, making it the oldest securities regulatory body in Asia. The Makati Stock Exchange was founded in 1956 by some Filipino brokers who felt dominated by the Americans. For many years, the 2 stock exchanges competed against each other for clients, but they merged in 1992 after a Supreme Court ruling. The newly merged stock exchanges commenced commercial operations in March 1994. Standard and Poor's estimated the market capitalization of the merged exchanges at US$48.105 million and trading value was at US$19.673 million.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

Poverty remains a serious problem in the Philippines, which is the only populous country in East Asia in which the absolute number of people living on less than $1 a day remained constant over the 1981-1995 period, according to figures compiled by the World Bank. That body estimates that even if the Philippine economy posts a 6 to 8 percent growth through 2005, it will still not be possible to bring the poverty level below 15 percent. Economists believe that it may take some 20 years of continuous economic reforms and implementation of social programs before the country can match the single-digit poverty figures of its more wealthy neighbors. In general, widespread poverty in the country is a direct result

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Philippines 974 1,166 967 1,064 1,092
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
China 138 168 261 349 727
Indonesia 385 504 603 778 972
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

of inappropriate and unresponsive economic policies, mismanagement of resources, corruption, and failure of the government to implement anti-poverty programs.

Economic policies from the 1960s to the 1980s focused on a capital-intensive, import-substituting strategy, which bred inefficient industries and contributed to the neglect of the agricultural sector. Policies promoting industrialization favored the development of urban areas to the detriment of rural areas, most of which remained underdeveloped. At the outset, urban areas, especially Metro Manila, cornered major infrastructure and social projects, thereby attracting most of the investments and jobs in the manufacturing and industrial sectors. In contrast, living standards in the rural areas continued to decline, leaving most of the peasant communities to subsist on a hand-to-mouth existence.

Starting in the mid-1980s, policies adopted by the government moved toward a more open, market-friendly economy. However, as government continued to pursue industrialization, the country's foreign debt ballooned and most of the government's resources went for debt and interest payments. This greatly hindered the govern-ment's ability to finance infrastructure and social programs for the neglected sectors of the population.

The mid-1990s witnessed a significant increase in income inequality. Only the top 10 percent of the population increased its share of total income, while the remaining 90

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Philippines
Lowest 10% 2.3
Lowest 20% 5.4
Second 20% 8.8
Third 20% 13.2
Fourth 20% 20.3
Highest 20% 52.3
Highest 10% 36.6
Survey year: 1997
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Philippines 37 3 11 1 14 1 32
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
China N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Indonesia 47 3 6 5 14 3 22
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

percent lost income share. A 1997 government survey revealed that more than a third of the population (36.7 percent) lived below acceptable standards. Still, the incidence of extreme poverty had declined since 1985, when the comparable figure was 49.2 percent. In 1999, the National Statistics Office estimated that, of the 14.7 million families in the Philippines, the top 20 percent earned 14 times more (P502.1 billion) than the lowest 20 percent (P35.8 billion).

A survey by the National Statistics Office of income distribution in the period from 1991 to 1997 shows the combined earnings of 80 percent of Filipino families amounted to only 44 percent of total income in the country, while the top 10 percent of families owned 39.3 percent. In 1999, almost half (46.6 percent) of the total income, or P417.9 billion, came from wages and salaries, and about a quarter (23.5 percent), or P210.3 billion, from entrepreneurial activities.

Among the poorest Filipinos, most family income is derived from entrepreneurial activities such as selling food on street corners or collecting recyclable materials to sell at the junkyards. Those belonging to the higher income strata obtain a bigger share of their incomes from wages and salaries. Most of the poor are lowland landless agricultural workers, lowland small farm owners and cultivators, industrial wage laborers, hawkers , micro-entrepreneurs, and scavengers. Most poor Filipinos live in rural areas, where they are subject to the low productivity of agricultural employment. Urban poverty is caused by low household incomes and the internal migration of poor rural families to urban areas.

Due to inadequate access to community health centers, members of poor households are not able to maximize health services benefits, such as family planning, the lack of which results in larger families with more mal-nourished and uneducated children. The condition of the poor is made worse by lack of housing, clean water and electricity, especially in the urban areas.

In 1987 Congress enacted the Cooperative Code of the Philippines in order to improve income opportunities, promote self-reliance, and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in the countryside. As of December 2000, there were 57,470 cooperatives (a collective organization owned and operated by the people drawing benefits from it) registered with the Cooperative Development Authority. In 1991, Congress enacted the Local Government Code, which expanded basic social services on the grass-roots level. The Social Reform Agenda (1993), formulated during the Ramos administration, is one of the government's most comprehensive development frameworks for combating poverty; its strategies aim at improving access to basic social services, increasing opportunities for employment, income generation, and self-reliance. The Estrada administration established the National Anti-Poverty Commission and allocated P2.5 billion for suitable programs.

WORKING CONDITIONS

Working conditions in the Philippines are closely related to one's social class. Those belonging to the upper class enjoy the best opportunities in terms of job satisfaction, facilities, advancement, and choice of career. Those from the middle class are usually able to land white-collar jobs with some room for advancement by capitalizing on education, company loyalty, and hard work. Those belonging to the lower class, due to their lack of education or capital, largely engage in poorly paid manual labor or blue-collar jobs, viewed as menial in Philippine society.

The unemployment rate in the Philippines rose to 10.1 percent in October 2000 during a political crisis provoked by President Estrada's impeachment trial on charges of graft (illegal or unfair gain) and corruption. The performance of the manufacturing industry sank to an historic low and investor confidence hit rock-bottom. Nearly 3 million Filipinos were unemployed and the unemployment rate in Metro Manila reached 17.8 percent.

The Department of Labor and Employment is the main agency making and implementing labor policies and government programs. Guidelines set by the Labor Code of the Philippines guarantee equal work opportunities to all, equal compensation for work of equal value, secure work tenure, overtime and vacation benefits, safe working conditions, the right to collective bargaining, and social-security benefits.

OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS (OFWS).

Beginning in the 1980s, lack of employment opportunities and inflation at home caused many Filipinos to seek employment in Europe, the Middle East, and neighboring countries in Southeast Asia through legal and illegal means. According to labor statistics released in January 2001, a total of 789,000 documented OFWs left to work abroad from January to November 2000 as information technology workers, engineers, seafarers, housekeepers, and nurses, among others. As of December 2000 labor statistics released by the Inter-Agency Committee on Tourism and Overseas Employment Statistics reveal that there are 7,383,122 Filipino professionals working abroad. Money sent home by the OFWs in 1999 amounted to US$6.8 million, a big jump from US$4.5 million in 1998. The social costs of this phenomenon were also substantial, for it caused the breakdown of the family unit, carrying with it attendant problems such as extramarital affairs and increased delinquency among unsupervised children. An equally disturbing problem was the rampant sexual and physical abuse of OFWs, especially women, and those victimized by illegal recruiters.

WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE WORKFORCE.

On one hand, economic growth has opened up more opportunities for women, particularly in export industries; on the other hand, women are first to be terminated when industries are forced to downsize. Since the Asian financial crisis in 1997, women have been forced to seek additional sources of income to supplement their meager take-home pay and are thus working longer hours than men. A 1998 study revealed that the number of women employed in the manufacturing sector had decreased by 12 percent, while those engaged in mining and quarrying increased by more than 16 percent.

A government agency, the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), is mandated to conduct gender consciousness-raising programs among government policymakers, planners, implementers, women in government, and non-government institutions. Through its initiative, the Philippine Development Plan for Women was formulated and adopted by the government. Another agency, the Bureau of Women and Young Workers, a subordinate agency of the Department of Labor and Employment, looks after the interests of working women and children. There are laws in place protecting women from gender discrimination and sexual harassment and establishing community day-care centers for children, but the implementation of these laws is not always strictly monitored.

Though the minimum age of employment is 18 years for hazardous jobs and 15 years for non-hazardous jobs, it is not unusual to see children engaged in some form of labor to contribute to their family's daily survival. A government survey in 1995 estimates that 3.6 million children, mostly boys aged 5 to 17 years, were engaged in some form of child labor. At least 1 in 10 of them is engaged in heavy physical work.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1521. In his search for the Moluccas, Ferdinand Magellan docks in the Philippines and is slain by native chieftain Lapu-Lapu in battle.

1543. Spanish conquistador Ruy Lopez de Villalobos names the islands Filipinas after Spain's Philip II.

1565. Miguel Lopes de Legazpe establishes his base in the province of Cebu and later moves it to Manila.

1575. Spain takes control of non-Islamic areas and monopolizes trade.

1896. Nationalist Jose Rizal is executed by the Spaniards. He is later honored as a national hero.

1898. Spain sells the Philippines to the United States for $20 million after a mock battle in Manila Bay.

1900. The United States establishes a commonwealth government and enacts a law that will grant the Philippines independence by 1944.

1935. Manuel L. Quezon is elected president and a new constitution is adopted.

1941. Japanese forces invade Luzon.

1942. Japanese forces conquer Manila as U.S. troops on the Bataan peninsula surrender to Gen. Yamashita.

1945. Japanese occupation ends. The Philippines joins the United Nations as a charter member.

1946. The Philippines gains independence from the United States on July 4, becoming an independent republic with Manuel Roxas as president.

1947. The Philippines and the United States sign a Military Bases Agreement.

1948. President Roxas dies and is succeeded in office by Elpidio Quirino.

1950S. The Communist Hukbalahap Movement collapses. The country rebuilds itself and earns the distinction of becoming the second most prosperous nation in Asia, next to Japan.

1953. Ramon Magsaysay is elected to the presidency as standard bearer of the Nacionalista Party.

1957. President Magsaysay dies in an air crash and is succeeded in office by Vice President Carlos P. Garcia.

1961. Vice President Diosdado Macapagal is elected president over incumbent Garcia.

1965. Ferdinand E. Marcos is elected president, defeating incumbent Macapagal.

1967. The Philippines joins the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

1969. President Marcos is re-elected and becomes the first president ever to be sworn in for a second time. The New People's Army is founded.

1972. President Marcos declares martial law in the guise of controlling a Communist rebellion. He orders the arrest of all opposition leaders, suspends the constitution, and dissolves the National Assembly. A new constitution is approved in a national referendum that proposes a return to a parliamentary form of government. President Marcos serves as president while Cesar Virata serves as prime minister. Muslim insurgency in the South intensifies.

1981. President Marcos ends 8 years of martial law and wins elections for a second 6-year term.

1983. Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr. returns from exile in the United States and is assassinated on his arrival at the Manila airport. Marcos calls for a quick election to quell domestic unrest and international pressure.

1986. Millions of Filipinos hold a peaceful "People Power" revolution protesting President Marcos's victory amidst charges of ballot tampering. Marcos and his family are exiled to Hawaii, and Corazon C. Aquino, wife of the slain Senator Aquino, assumes the presidency. A new constitution is soon ratified.

1989. Limited autonomy is granted to Muslim provinces. Dispute escalates with China over the Spratly Islands. Military stages a coup d'état.

1990. A destructive earthquake, measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale, kills more than 1,600 and destroys property amounting to hundreds of millions of pesos. Typhoons batter the Visayas region.

1991. Eruption of the volcano Mount Pinatubo, burying many towns under lava including the ones where 2 American bases, Clark Air Base and the Subic Naval Bay Station, were located.

1992. Fidel V. Ramos is elected president. He unveils his blueprint for development called Philippines 2000. The Philippine Senate votes against the continued presence of U.S. military bases in the country.

1990s. The Philippine economy registers positive growth. International agencies express optimism about the country's development and dubs the country as one of Asia's "tiger cub" economies.

1998. Joseph E. Estrada, running under a social-justice platform, wins the presidency by a wide margin. The Philippines' fiscal deficit balloons to P111.66 billion from a deficit of P11.14 billion in 1986.

2000. President Estrada becomes the first Philippine president to be impeached by Congress. After mass "People Power" demonstrations, vice president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo becomes the fourteenth President of the Republic.

FUTURE TRENDS

The greatest task at hand for the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is to stimulate the economy to sustained growth and reduce poverty by ensuring that the benefits of development are evenly distributed. In order to achieve this, government must manage its huge budget deficit and the national debt, and both the private and public sectors must reduce unemployment by attracting more foreign investors or generating employment locally through entrepreneurship. The new president is an economist by training, and it is believed she can inspire confidence in investment. By 2001, forecasters were revising upward their predictions of GDP growth from 2.7 percent to 4 percent.

In May 2001, voters will elect 13 senators, 209 representatives, 53 party-list representatives, and 79 governors and vice-governors. The outcome of the elections is crucial to the political and economic stability of the country. Any perception of election irregularities such as vote-buying or cheating will diminish investor confidence. In fact, most foreign investors are postponing business decisions until the outcome of the elections is known. In addition, it is crucial that the candidates of the current administration win a majority of the positions in order to affirm its mandate and ensure the smooth passage of its priority bills in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Some of the existing problems that can cause destabilization are the remaining pockets of Communist insurgency, the continuing struggle by Muslim separatists, and the feeble, but divisive, attempts of the former president to regain the presidency. The precarious state of the country's environment and natural resources can also hurt political stability and economic growth. In 2000, the government was severely criticized for not being able to effectively address the crisis in waste management. Dozens of slum dwellers living near the Payatas dumpsite were buried alive under mountains of trash that collapsed on their houses after continuing rains. A temporary shutdown of the dumpsite resulted in the accumulation of uncollected garbage in Metro Manila and added to public perceptions of the government as incompetent and ineffective. The continuing degradation of the environment is negatively affecting health and livelihood. The heavily polluted air in Metro Manila is the primary cause of respiratory illnesses, which harms labor productivity. Water pollution disrupts marine-dependent livelihoods, as well as the country's source of food. Although initiatives for resource conservation and environmental protection have gone a long way, there is still much to be done in terms of strict implementation of the laws and instilling respect for the environment.

DEPENDENCIES

Philippines has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aganon, Marie E. National Report, Philippines: Changing Labor Market and Women Employment. Tokyo: Asian Productivity Organization, 2000.

Asian Development Outlook 2000. New York: Oxford UniversityPress, 2000.

Austria, Edna Villencio et. al. Philippines: Asian Approach to Resource Conservation and Environmental Protection. Tokyo: Asian Productivity Organization, 2000.

Cabanilla, L.S. et. al. Measuring Sustainability, Efficiency and Equitability of Philippine Agriculture. Working Paper No. 98-05. Institute for Strategic Planning and Policy Studies, 1998.

Chew, Victor T. Southeast Asian Tax Handbook. InternationalBureau for Fiscal Documentation, 1996.

De Leon, Hector S. The Fundamentals of Taxation. 11th ed.Manila: Rex, 1993.

Department of Labor and Employment. <http://www.info.com.ph/~dolemis>. Accessed July 2001.

Department of Tourism. <http://www.tourism.gov.ph>. AccessedJuly 2001.

Department of Trade and Industry. <http://www.dti.gov.ph>.Accessed July 2001.

Gonzales, Felix R. Updates on Philippine Fisheries. PhilippineChamber of Food and Agriculture, 2000.

Harrison, Matthew. Asia-Pacific Securities Markets. Hong Kong:Financial Times, 1997.

Hoorway, James. "Philippines, Asian Economic Survey." The Asian Wall Street Journal. 23 October 2000.

Hutchcroft, Paul D. "Sustaining Economic and Political Reform:The Challenges Ahead." The Philippines: New Directions in Domestic Policy and Foreign Relations. David G. Timberman, ed. Asia Society, 1998.

Lamberte, Mario B. The Philippines: Challenges for Sustaining the Economic Recovery. Discussion Paper Series No. 2000-02. Philippine Institute for Development Studies, January 2000.

Mana-Ay, Ambrocio. "Philippines." Rural Poverty Alleviation in Asia and the Pacific. Tokyo: Asian Productivity Organization, 1999.

Panganiban, Artemio V. "An Introduction to the SupremeCourt." Law. Vol. XXIV, No. 8, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, 1998.

Rodlauer, M. et. al. Philippines: Toward Sustainable and Rapid Growth. Occasional Paper 187. Washington: International Monetary Fund, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook, 2000. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook>. Accessed December 2000.

Villegas, Bernardo M. Philippine Economic Prospects under the Estrada Administration. <http://www.asiasociety.org/publications/update_cris_villegas.html>. Accessed December 2000.