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.
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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.
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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%.
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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 MILF.
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 Yemá Islamiya.
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.