CHAPTER VI: Philippines Country Study
SECTION I: CULTURE
The Philippines is a family-oriented society. Scholars have noted that from
their very earliest socialization, Filipinos are taught not to think of
themselves, but to think of the family, the barangay, and the town. In addition,
the ethnic diversity of the country reinforces this introverted process. Thus,
it is more common for the citizenry to think not in terms of a nation of
Filipinos, but in terms of representatives of towns, districts, and ethnic
backgrounds. In addition to the family, the Catholic Church is a dominant
influence. Most importantly, the Church has instilled in the people a sense of
patience, a conviction that this life is merely preparation for a more glorious
life to come. This outlook contributes to popular acceptance of the economic and
social imbalances that exist in the country. Some six million Filipinos make up
the so-called cultural minority groups or tribal Filipinos a minority which
nevertheless comprises 12 percent of the total population. Included in this are
four million Muslims.
In the Philippines, the stability of family and community takes precedence
over personal desires. The subsistence economy also helps to dictate the
authoritarian structure of the family in which control can be enforced at any
level of seniority. In Philippine society, self-esteem becomes equated with
stature, and ones position in the social order, regardless of actual function,
is of major importance. Control is asserted less by physical resistance or
punishment than by a sense of public shame or, in extreme cases, by ostracism.
Either of these controls is more effective than any appeal to guilt feelings.
The pressure of obligatory relations is summed up in the concept of reciprocity.
The chief exception to hierarchical structure in the family is the Philippine
wife, who is legally her husband's equal. Today, women hold national public
office and executive and professional positions at all levels of society.
The Philippine class structure has been remarkably unchanged throughout the
centuries. Of the total population in 1992, it is estimated that about 1 percent
is considered in the upper class (large landowners, highly successful
professionals and businessmen, and upper echelon government officials); 12
percent in the middle class (minor officials, certain educators, most
businessmen, and owners of medium size farms); 32 percent in the upper lower
class (skilled laborers, government clerks, most teachers and office workers,
owners of small farms and general stores); and 55 percent in the lower class
(unskilled laborers, owners of less than 5 acres of farmland, most tenant
farmers, landless farm laborers, the handicapped, and most household servants).
Philippine society is relatively homogeneous, especially considering its
distribution over some 7,100 islands. Muslim and upland tribal peoples represent
the most obvious exceptions, while approximately 90 percent of the society
remains united by a common cultural and religious background and ethnically
referred to as Lowland Christians.
The people of the Philippines are called Filipinos. According to some
anthropologists, the Philippine Islands have 45 ethnographic groups distinct in
economic and social life, language, and often-physical type. Among physical
groups, the Visayans (also called Bisayans), who inhabit the sugar rich central
islands, constitute the most numerous divisions. They are usually subdivided
into three groups: the Cebuano in the center, Samar-Leyte in the east, and
Hiligaynon in Panay and Western Negros. The Visayans are characterized as being
the most carefree and the most Spanish in their music and folkways.
In Luzon, the Tagalogs, from the provinces adjacent to Manila, are the most
home-loving and learned of Filipinos; the Ilocanos, from the north, the most
energetic, thrifty, and migratory; and the Pampanguenos, from the central
plains, the sharpest in trading. The Muslims of the far southern islands are
considered the most independent Filipinos.
The Muslims, also referred to as Moros, are the largest of the organized
non-Christian minorities, constituting approximately 4 percent of the
population. There are many Muslim groups, each with distinct cultural and
linguistic habits. The three main groups are the Tausog, Maranaw, and
Magindanaw. Other non-Christian groups, also referred to as Upland Tribal
Groups, adhere to indigenous religious beliefs and practices. The mountain
people of northern Luzon include the Ifugaos, Bontocs, Benguets, Kalingas, and
Apayaos. Nomadic Ilongots roam the range of eastern Luzon. The Mangyans of
Mindoro and the Manobos, Bukidons, and Bagobos of Mindanao all practice
slash-and-burn cultivation. The non-Christian minorities have been treated as
marginal Filipinos. Adequate political representation has not yet been extended
to all of these groups. They have been less successfully assimilated by
intermarriage than have the Chinese, Spanish, and American mestizos, or mixed
The Chinese have managed the economy as financiers and entrepreneurs, but
they are not naturalized citizens. Contacts with China from the 10th century on
have resulted in a group of mixed Filipino-Chinese descent, which accounts for a
minority of the population. Spanish-Filipinos and Filipino-Americans may be
distinguished by their fairer complexion, taller stature, and aquiline nose
Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion in the Philippines. It is the
religion of about 83 percent of the population. Although the Philippine
Constitution calls for separation of church and state, the Catholic Church is
still able to manipulate some government policy decisions. Islam pre-dates
Catholicism by about three centuries, but has remained confined to the Sulu
Archipelago and the provinces of Mindanao. Approximately 5 percent of the
population practices the Muslim religion. Protestantism, also a minor religion
in the Philippines, is practiced by approximately 9 percent of the population.
Another 3 percent of the population follows Buddhism and other minor religions.
The formal education system in the Philippines offers six years of elementary
instruction followed by four years of high school. In 1975, only 21.7 percent of
Filipinos who were 25 years or older had completed elementary school. Recently,
however, 61.5 percent of the eligible population now completes elementary
school, and approximately 30 percent of the eligible population now attends high
school. Ninety percent of males and females over age 15 can read and write.
Elementary education begins at 7 years of age and is provided free of charge at
public (government-administered) schools.
Secondary education, which is also available free in some areas, begins at
the age of 13 and lasts for up to four years, comprising two equal cycles. There
is a common general curriculum for all students in the first two years and more
varied curricula in the third and fourth years, leading to either college or
technical vocational courses. In 1988, 98 percent of all children in the
relevant age group were enrolled at primary schools, while the comparable ratio
for secondary enrollment was 54 percent. The total enrollment at elementary
schools in 1989-90 was 10.3 million, while secondary school enrolment was 4.0
million. Instruction is in both English and Filipino at the elementary level,
while English is the usual medium at the secondary and tertiary levels. In 1989,
a new curriculum for secondary schools was implemented; Filipino was to be the
language of instruction for all subjects except mathematics and sciences. Among
the population aged 15 and over, the average illiteracy rate in 1990 was
estimated at 10.3 percent (males 10.0 percent, females 10.5 percent). The 1991
budget allocated 39 billion pesos (15.5 percent of total expenditure) to
education, culture, and training.
D. Important Tips
The Philippines has been influenced by the Chinese, Malayan, Spanish, and
American cultures. Consequently, many aspects of these different cultures are
evident in the unique Filipino society. Although casual and fun loving,
Filipinos are sensitive people; insincerity is easily detected and can ruin a
relationship. Individualism is less important than the family. Bringing shame to
an individual reflects on his family and is avoided at all costs.
Interdependence is more important than independence; a family member will often
sacrifice personal goals or desires to help the family or another family member.
Likewise, making social relationships run smoothly is often seen as being more
important than expressing personal views. A Filipino may even consider frankness
to show a lack of culture. In general, Filipinos have a more relaxed view of
time and may not always begin meetings or appointments promptly.
Accepting a favor obliges a Filipino to repay with a greater favor, although
never with money. Innovation, change, and even competition are sometimes
considered risks that could bring shame if a person fails. Making changes in
social or religious habits may be considered as being ungrateful to parents.
Fatalism is a common attitude, characterized by the expression Bahala na, which
means, roughly, Accept what comes and bear it with hope and patience. Success
may also be attributed to fate rather than ability or effort. The Latin idea of
machismo is evident in the Philippines; the ideal man is a macho man. Men often
make comments about women passing by on the street, but these are ignored.
SECTION II: GEOGRAPHY
The Philippines is one of few developing nations in the world with a
functioning democracy. The Philippines also enjoys moderate economic growth,
balanced between technology exports, manufacturing, agriculture, and services.
An Archipelago nation of over 7,700 islands, the Philippine economy is enhanced
by its location near major international shipping lanes, but also limited by
transportation difficulties and its vulnerability to hurricanes and volcanic
activity. Communist insurgent groups in the central and northern islands and
Muslim secessionist groups in the southernmost islands affect Philippine
internal stability. The Philippines has few external threats, the most
significant being PRC encroachment upon its territorial and maritime claims in
the South China Sea.
A. Summary Data
Total area: 300,000 sq km; land area: 298,170 sq km
Comparative area: Slightly larger than Arizona
Land boundary: None
Coastline: 36,289 km
Maritime claims: 200 NM exclusive economic zone
Disputes: Involved in a complex dispute over the Spratly Islands with
China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei; claims Malaysian state of
Natural resources: Timber, petroleum, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold,
salt, and copper.
Land use: arable land 26%, permanent crops 11%, meadows and pastures
4%, forest and woodland 40%, other 19%.
Irrigated land: 16,200 sq km (1989 estimate)
Environment: Astride typhoon belt, usually affected by 15 and struck
by five to six cyclonic storms per year; subject to landslides, active
volcanoes, destructive earthquakes, tsunami, deforestation, soil erosion, water
The Philippines officially consists of 7,107 islands of which only 2,000 are
inhabited. Only about 500 of the islands are larger than a square kilometer, and
2,500 of them are not even named. In order of size, the biggest islands are:
||104,683 sq km|
||94,596 sq km|
||14,896 sq km|
||12,327 sq km|
||10,245 sq km|
||9,949 sq km|
||9,225 sq km|
||6,268 sq km|
||5,068 sq km|
||4,117 sq km|
||4,047 sq km|
The total area of the Philippines is 300,000 square kilometers. From north to
south the Philippines stretch for 1,850kmand from east to west for 1,100km. The
highest mountain is Mt Apo, near Davao in Mindanao, at 2953 meters. Mt Pulong,
east of Baguio in north Luzon, is the second highest at 2,930 meters. There are
over 37 volcanoes in the Philippines, 17 of which are classified as being
active, including the Mayon Volcano near Legaspi in south Luzon. The longest
rivers are the Cagayan River, the Rio Grande de Pampanga, and the Agno in Luzon;
and the Rio Grande de Mindanao and the Agusan River in Mindanao.
The islands of the Philippines can be conveniently divided into four groups:
- Luzon, the largest and northern most island and the site of the capital,
Manila. The nearby islands of Mindoro and Marinduque, which are sandwiched
between Mindoro and Luzon, are generally included with Luzon.
- The island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, which dominates the
southern portion of the archipelago.
- The tightly packed island group known as the Visayas, which fills the space
between Luzon and Mindanao. There are seven major islands in this group: Panay,
Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Samar, and Masbate. Cebu is the central island of
the group and Cebu City is the shipping center for the entire Philippines. From
here ships run to places throughout the country.
- The province of Palawan off to the west, which is dominated by the island of
Palawan, but also includes more than 1,700 other islands.
SECTION III: CLIMATE
The climate in the Philippines is typically tropical hot and humid year
round. Although the actual weather pattern is fairly complex, it can roughly be
divided into January to June (dry) and July to December (wet). January is
usually the coolest month and May the hottest, but the temperature does not
fluctuate far from 25°C (80°F) year round.
December to February are the cool dry months, while March to May are the
hot dry months. It rains nearly every day from July through September. In May,
Manila usually has daytime temperatures of 35-40oC
(65o-104oF), and at night it does not drop much below
27oC (81oF). This is the time of year when rich citizens
of Manila head for the perpetual spring of Baguio and the mountain provinces.
The best time to travel is from December to May. In December and January,
however, you must contend with the rains on the east coast. March through May
are the summer months. Normally, for large areas of the Philippines, the rainy
season starts in June. However, over the past decade, the dry season has
occasionally extended into July.
Travel around the Philippines is not really affected by the occasional
downpour, but more by the unpredictable typhoons that usually come with the wet,
monsoon season from May to November. The southwest Visayas and Mindanao lie
beneath the typhoon belt. Typhoons usually blow in from the southeast.
The Pacific Ocean coastline, comprising Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao,
lies in the path of the northeast trade winds, ensuring a mild oceanic climate.
The winter monsoons take place from December or January to May and bring rain to
the Pacific coast, but primarily dry pleasant weather to the rest of the land.
The summer monsoon blows from June to December or January and brings heavy rains
to the Manila area. The typhoons in the Pacific region are predominantly in the
Marshall and Caroline Islands. They travel in a northwesterly direction towards
the Chinese mainland between June and November, mainly in August/September.
SECTION IV: TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS
1. Buses: Inexpensive bus service is available throughout most
large cities and suburbs. Although schedules are frequent, Philippine buses are
considered unsafe and uncomfortable by U.S. standards. Pick pocketing is quite
common on buses, and bus drivers often drive recklessly. Both local and long
distance buses announce only the final destination. Depending on the distance,
the trip costs 90 centavos for the first five kilometers, then 25 centavos for
every further kilometer. In Manila the air-conditioned bus is very popular, but
2. Jeepneys: These are the most popular means of transport for
short journeys. The jeepneys are reconstructed Jeeps which were left in the
Philippines by the U.S. military after World War II. They are colorfully
painted, and the tops are decorated with a multitude of mirrors and statues.
Most jeepney routes are prescribed, and the fares start at 90 centavos for the
first five kilometers, then 25 centavos for every kilometer thereafter. When you
want to get off, just bang on the roof, hiss, or yell Jeepney para.
Outside of urban areas, it is important to negotiate a price before
setting out on a long trip over unfamiliar territory. Before you start, ask
other passengers about the price, or check in a nearby shop and then confirm the
price with the driver. This may save you an unpleasant situation upon reaching
your destination. Jeepneys usually only leave when full (or overflowing) with
passengers; therefore, you must allow for long waiting periods. If you climb
into an empty jeepney and the driver takes off immediately, it means he usually
will try to charge you for a special ride. If you do not want this, you must
make it clear to him that you are only prepared to pay for a regular ride. It
costs about P600 to rent a jeepney for a day, more if the roads are in bad
condition, and gas is extra.
Safety Tip: If several men get into the jeepney after you and try
to sit near you or get you to change seats, get out immediately. They may be
trying to rob you.
3. Taxis: Taxis have meters, or they are supposed to. Flat-fare
arrangements will always work out to the drivers advantage, although some
meters turn over more quickly than normal. In spite of fines of up to P5000,
countless taxis still have rigged meters. Pay particular attention to the
digital price display if the driver honks the horn every few seconds. Sometimes
horns and meters are linked up and the meter adds a unit every time the horn is
sounded. As with taxis everywhere in Asia, make sure the meter is turned on when
you start. The most reliable taxis seem to be Golden Cabs, but unfortunately
there are not many around. Taxis waiting in front of large hotels, bus stations,
ports, and airports nearly always have rigged meters. It is usually worth
walking to the next street.
4. Trikes: These are bicycles with sidecars for passengers. As
transport becomes increasingly motorized, they are becoming rarer even in the
provinces. Prices start at about P25 per person for a short trip.
5. Air: International air travel can be arranged from Manila.
Airlines connecting Manila with other points in the Far East include Air France,
China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Korean Airlines, Northwest, Pakistan
International, Philippine Air Lines, and Japan Airlines. Northwest has the most
flights to the United States. In 1987 there were 87 airports in the Philippines.
In addition to the international airports at Manila and Mactan (Cebu), there are
four alternative international airports: Laoag City, Ilocos Norte; Davao City;
Zamboanga City; and Puerto Princesa City. Philippine Airlines maintains domestic
and international air services. The Bureau of Air Transportation implements
government policies for the development and operation of a safe and efficient
6. Train: Train travel is not recommended because of unsafe
roadbeds, substandard cars, and frequent thefts.
7. Boats: Inter-island ships sail almost daily with calls at major
Philippine ports. Although accommodations are not first-class, traveling on
ships can be adventuresome and enjoyable. However, during peak travel periods,
ships are quickly overcrowded. At all times ship travel may be hazardous because
of lack of enforcement of safety regulations. Characteristics of normal sea
travel in and around the Philippines are:
- As many people as possible crammed into the smallest possible space.
- Bunks welded to every available bit of floor space.
- Overflowing toilets due to no water and overuse.
- Lousy food, very little drink available, and the boat arriving several hours
- Nauseated passengers if it is slightly rough.
1. Radio and Television: Radio and television programs in the
Philippines resemble those in the United States. They are commercial and highly
competitive. Many programs are in English. Many popular U.S. series are carried
in English, but many locally produced shows are in Tagalog. Local news and
public affairs programs are usually in English. The Philippines currently have
about 315 radio stations, with 45 in the metropolitan Manila area. There are
also 29 television channels throughout the nation, with 7 in the Manila area.
Sky cable TV is also available.
2. Telephone: There are PLDT (Philippines Long Distance Telephone
Company) offices in Manila as well as at other central locations. A visitor can
also make international calls from the Manila Hilton, but there is a 25 percent
surcharge for non-guests. It is far cheaper to make station-to-station rather
than person-to-person calls from the Philippines; charges are about 25 percent
less. It is best to call outside of business hours (of the country being called)
when the waiting time will be considerably less. On Sundays there is a 25
percent reduction in the charge. In the Philippines, the AT&T international
access number is 105-11.
In contrast to overseas calls, local calls in the Philippines are
difficult. It can take a ridiculously long time to be connected. The lines over
long distances are bad; international calls are a breeze in comparison. You
cannot find telephones everywhere in the Philippines. In an emergency try the
nearest police station, which in many rural areas will have the only telephone
for miles around. Telephone numbers are always changing, so check a local
directory before calling.
3. Telegrams: The international telegram service is fairly prompt
and reliable, but internal telegrams are likely to be delayed. There are several
telegram companies. To overseas destinations, 12-hour telegrams cost about P8
per word. Within the Philippines, a telegram to Cebu from Manila, for example,
costs about 80 centavos a word and takes five hours. To compare, a telex to
Europe costs P60 per minute (= four lines) through Eastern Communications.
4. Postal Service: The Filipino postal system is generally quite
efficient. Post offices are closed on Sundays and public holidays. During the
Christmas period from mid-December to mid-January, mail is delayed by up to two
months. If items such as film are sent by mail, it is best to send it by
registered post. Parcels have to be wrapped with brown paper and secured with
string. In most hotels there is a packing service for guests, and for a few
pesos more, an employee will take the package to the post office. Although the
postal service is usually competent, it is not recommended that you send money
through the mail. Letters with banknotes inside tend to mysteriously disappear,
even if they are registered.
SECTION V: HEALTH
The general level of sanitation in the Philippines is lower than that in the
United States, but is high compared with many other developing nations. An
increase in Manila's population, as in other urban areas, has greatly overtaxed
city water supplies, sewage, garbage disposal, street cleaning, and utilities.
Caution must be exercised regarding the public water supplies in the
Philippines. At times during the dry season, low main water pressure results in
questionable water potability in certain areas. As a general rule, it is advised
to boil water before drinking and brushing teeth or use bottled water.
Even in large urban areas such as Manila, open sewers and waste disposal can
be found. Food handling and market sanitation practices in some areas may not be
adequate from a public health standpoint. Most urban areas are trying to improve
city sanitation conditions and educate people in public health and sanitation
measures. However, these programs have not reached all levels of the society.
Cockroaches, ants, mosquitoes, fleas, termites, rats, and mice abound in the
Philippines; and malaria is still a problem in the outlying areas of the nation.
Prevalent diseases of military importance include malaria, all types
of diarrheas, typhoid fever, gastroenteritis, hemorrhagic fever, helminthiasis
and other parasitic infections, filariasis, schistosomiasis, sexually
transmitted diseases, pneumonia, and other respiratory infections. AIDS is also
a mounting concern in the Philippines; with no system in place to test the
national blood bank, the probability of a rapidly escalating infection rate is
high. Another health consideration is the severe climate of the Philippines. The
continuous heat and humidity can cause loss of stamina among personnel and
increase the deterioration of equipment and other material. Mildew, fungus, and
arthropod infestations are also common.
Dangerous flora and fauna abound in and around the Philippine Islands.
All plants, animals, and marine life should be considered potentially life
threatening until otherwise positively identified. The following is a list of
the most prevalent and dangerous flora and fauna: centipedes, black scorpions,
black widow spiders, numerous types of cobra, coral and sea snakes, yellow
spotted pit viper, speckled pit viper, stonefish, scorpion fish, court cone, sea
wasp, jelly fish, zebra fish, gunpowder plant, ligas plant, and lipay plant.
Preventive Measures. The occasional gastrointestinal upsets and colds
are almost unavoidable. Through normal precautions and care, serious diseases,
such as cholera, typhoid amebiases, bacillary dysentery, and intestinal
parasites, are avoidable. Select eating establishments carefully, and drink only
bottled water or beverages. Boil all water that is used for cooking or drinking.
Prior to entry into the Philippines, personnel should be inoculated against
typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, and cholera. The best way to
protect against sexually transmitted diseases is abstinence, for even the use of
condoms is not 100 percent effective.
SECTION VI: THE ECONOMY
GNP: $53,680,000,000 (1993)
GNP per capita: $740 (1993)
Imports: $16.2 billion - raw materials, capital goods, petroleum
Exports: $11.1 billion - electronics, textiles, coconut products,
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 7.6% (1993)
Unemployment rate: 9.2% (1993)
Revenues: $11.5 billion
Expenditures: $13 billion (1994 est.)
External debt: $34.1 billion (Sep 1993)
Electricity: 7,850,000 kW capacity; 28,000 billion kWh produced.
Electric current is generally 220 volts, 60 cycles, although the actual voltage
is often less, particularly in some provinces. In some areas the standard is a
U.S.-style 110-volt current. Although less frequent, brownouts still occur. An
adaptor may be needed for Filipino plugs that are usually similar to the U.S.
flat two-pin type.
Industries: Textiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wood products, food
processing, electronics assembly, petroleum refining, fishing.
Agriculture: Accounts for about 20 percent of the GDP and about 45
percent of the labor force; major crops - rice, coconut, corn, sugarcane,
bananas, pineapple, mango; animal products - pork, eggs, beef; net exporter of
farm products: fish catch of 2 million metric tons annually.
After several false starts, the Philippine economy is finally poised for a
take-off. The country's economic growth for 1994 was 5.1 percent, about double
the 1993 growth rate. An indicator of investor enthusiasm is the Philippine
stock market, whose performance in 1993 has been described as the best in Asia.
The Philippine composite index climbed a staggering 193 percent, the third
largest gain in the world. Foreign investments of $522 million in 1993, most
from Asians nations, nearly doubled that of 1992. The Philippines has also made
significant progress in its relations with Malaysia, ending nearly 30 years of a
cold war between the two nations. As a result, Malaysia is now the biggest
single investor in the Subic Bay Freeport.
The economic resurgence of the Philippines has also attracted other Asian
countries, including Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore.
Currently, Japan is the number one investor in the Philippines, having injected
about $110 million in 1993, up 65 percent from 1992. Singapore's investment of
$38 million in 1993 was an increase of nearly 800 percent over that of 1992.
However, one of the biggest economic problems facing the Philippines is its
growing $32 billion foreign debt. Currently, payments to service the foreign
debt eat up 43 percent of the national budget. In an effort to relieve this
pressure, the Philippine government has been allowed to restructure its debt
with its creditors and postpone some payments by 15 to 20 years. Another problem
still facing the Philippine economy is trying to deal with the after effects of
the U.S. military withdrawal. The Subic Bay Naval Base provided income, either
directly or indirectly, for approximately 160,000 Filipinos and their
dependents. Prior to the U.S. withdrawal in November 1992, the U.S. government
was the second largest employer in the Philippines, second only to the
SECTION VII: INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL THREATS
A. Internal Threat
Instability is a fact of political life in the Philippines. There are
basically three groups that continue to disrupt or have the ability to disrupt
national peace: the New Peoples Army (NPA), the Muslim separatist movement, and
the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) and Young Officers Union (YOU).
Although disruptive, none of these groups has the ability to threaten the
The first and foremost of these groups is the communist-backed insurgency.
Jose Maria Sison, who adopted the Maoist revolutionary model as the basis for
the insurgency, founded the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in 1968.
The CPPs plan was to use its military arm, the NPA, to gradually assume control
of the countryside and eventually restrict government influence to urban areas.
Once this goal was realized, conventional warfare was to be used to finally
defeat government forces. However, the NPA has been unable to acquire sufficient
strength and support to overpower the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). In
fact, in recent years the NPA numbers have been shrinking due to political
compromises by the Philippine government and AFP military successes. Currently,
the NPA numbers no more than 7,000 combatants.
A second threat facing the AFP is the Muslim separatist movement centered on
the southern island of Mindanao. This movement centers on the Moro National
Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which seek
Muslim autonomy from the central government. Another extremist Islamic group is
the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). The ASG mostly confines its actions to random
kidnapping and bombings. Although organized resistance fragmented and diminished
in the 1980s, in recent years, the number of attacks from Muslim insurgents has
increased. The Muslim insurgents number approximately 15,000-19,000 guerrillas.
Still another threat to the Philippine government is the organization of
disillusioned former military officers known as the RAM/YOU. The members and
supporters of these organizations have been involved in at least seven attempts
to overthrow the Philippine government. In recent years, support for their
activities has weakened and their numbers have diminished. However, a small
cadre of dedicated members remains and still has some potential to reestablish a
destabilizing influence in the nation.
B. External Threat
Although the Philippines has been involved in territorial and commercial
disputes with several of its neighbors, it currently perceives no major external
threat to national security. Its military occupation of, and historical claim
to, several Spratly Islands (known to the Philippines as the Kalayaan group),
however, could prove to be a future flashpoint between the Philippines and other
claimants, such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Peoples Republic of
China, especially if a major oil or other commercially exploitable resource is