The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines emphasizes that
all citizens of the country should have equal rights to
education. The school is compulsory and free for 6 years. In
2000, 93% of children in the age group went to school for 12
years, of which 7% went to private schools.
The high school is free but not compulsory. In 2000, 53%
of the age group in high school continued. 30% of the
student group went to private secondary schools. Higher
education institutions are largely private.
There are approx. 90 different languages in the
country. Filipino is the national language, English is used
as a language of instruction next to the national language
and as a language of public administration. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Philippines.
The geographical conditions with more than 7000 islands
make following up the education system difficult and
expensive. Improved economy in recent years has led to
higher education grants. However, a rapid increase in
population and a steadily increasing number of years has
made it difficult to improve the education system.
Illiteracy is estimated at approx. 5%.
In April 2002, the city of General Santos, in southern
Mindanao, was declared in an emergency after several bombs
exploded, killing a total of 14 people. Police detained two
suspects, and stated that the bombs had been placed by the
In June, the US government presented legal charges
against 5 leaders of the Philippine rebel movement Abu
Sayyaf for the abduction and murder of North American
nationals Martin Burnham and Guillermo Sobero. The Abu
Sayyaf movement is accused of being linked to the al-Qaeda
network and Osama bin Laden. There were also charges of
abducting Burnham's wife, Gracia, who was rescued on June 7
in Mindanao, after being held captive for 1 year with her
husband. A Philippine nurse had also been abducted by Abu
Sayyaf during this period, but she had died during a rescue
operation conducted by the Philippine military.
In October, Abu Sayyaf conducted a series of attacks
against businesses and churches, costing 8 lives and 170
wounded. At least 5 people were arrested and transferred to
Manila. Abu Sayyaf's goal is the establishment of an Islamic
state in the southern part of the Philippines.
On January 23, 2003, Rómulo Kintanar was liquidated at a
restaurant in Manila. Kintanar had been chairman of the
Communist Party in the 1980s, but was no longer a member of
the party. The party assumed responsibility for the
liquidation carried out by its armed branch, the NPA.
Also in January, Amnesty International released a report
condemning the routine use of torture by political prisoners
in the Philippines' prisons. The prisoners most at risk of
torture are presumed members of the armed rebel groups,
sympathizers, ordinary criminals or the poor.
Gloria Arroyo stated in March that 4 members of Abu Sayaf
had been captured and at the same time 36 kilos of highly
explosive trinitrotoluene were seized. Acc. Arroyo had taken
one of the captives responsible for the explosion on a
passenger ferry on February 27, killing 100. The prisoners
had been trained militarily by the al-Qaeda affiliate group
At the May 2004 election, hundreds of thousands of
Filipino migrant workers living outside the country could
vote for the first time. The majority of these migrant
workers send money home to their families living in the
Philippines. Political observers felt that the voices of
foreign migrant workers could be crucial to the country's
future. One of the most politically active groups outside
the country is the nearly 90,000 registered Filipino migrant
workers living in Hong Kong. Connie Bragas-Regalado, leader
of the Emigrant Party representing workers in Hong Kong,
stated that the Philippines has a huge responsibility to
defend the rights of Filipino workers working in 186
different countries and that it is necessary to legislate to
defend these rights.
That same month, at least 19 people were killed and
hundreds more homeless as a result of typhoon Nida's
ravaging of the eastern provinces of the Philippines.
The presidential election was won by Gloria Arroyo over
her rival Fernando Poe.
In June, negotiations started in Norway between the
government and the NPA.
On July 15, the government decided to initiate the
retreat of the small contingent of Filipino soldiers who had
hitherto participated in the US occupation of Iraq. The
retreat was accelerated for the sake of Ángelo da Cruz - a
Filipino truck driver captured by Iraqi rebels. The
withdrawal was another defeat for the occupying power
following the withdrawal of troops from Spain, Dominican
Republic and Honduras.
Even before all troops were pulled out, Ángelo da Cruz
was released by his abductors. When Cruz was transferred to
Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for a health check
prior to his return to the Philippines.