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Philippines

Yearbook 2004

Philippines. At least 15 people were killed in a bomb attack on January 4 against a sports hall in the town of Parang on the island of Mindanao in the south. It was unclear who was behind the act, but police suspected it was an attempted murder of the city's Christian mayor.

2004 Philippines

Peace negotiations began in Norway in February between the government and the National People's Army (NPA). However, the NPA refused to announce a ceasefire before anything had been done to solve the economic and social problems that caused the conflict.

More than 100 people died when the ferry Superferry 14 started burning on February 26. The authorities were initially skeptical of information from the Islamist group Abu Sayyaf that they carried out a bomb attack on the ship. A later investigation confirmed that it was a bombing act. In March, two of the six Abu Sayyaf members suspected of the act were arrested. The six men were indicted in October. Four of them were then still on the loose.

Presidential and parliamentary elections were held on May 10. For the first time, they got around 8 million Philippines working abroad to vote. According to Digopaul, the constitution does not allow the president to stand for re-election, but because Gloria Arroyo did not come to power through an election, she got to run for office. Arroyo was vice president when Joseph Estrada was forced to step down in 2001. Her main opponent was the popular movie actor Fernando Poe Jr. In addition to Poe, there were several candidates from the TV world who shone the voting movement. Poe was supported by the ousted President Estrada and, like this, had the most supporters among the poor population. However, he was a newcomer to politics and it was unclear which political line he advocated. Arroyo made promises of care, work and education for all.

Nearly 50 parties voted in the parliamentary elections. The election campaign became violent and at least ninety people were killed in connection with the election. First, well into June, Arroyo was declared victorious in the presidential election with 40% of the vote, while Poe received just over 36%. Poe accused Arroyo of electoral fraud, but most appraisers felt that even though irregularities had occurred, they were not so extensive as to affect the election outcome. In the parliamentary elections, it received a coalition of four parties that supported Arroyo's own majority in the House of Representatives.

In July, a Philippines truck driver, Angelo de la Cruz, was taken hostage by a militant group in Iraq. To save his life, the government decided to withdraw the fifty soldiers sent to Iraq a month earlier than planned in support of the US-led alliance. The decision was criticized by the United States, Australia and the Iraqi Prime Minister.

Seventeen suspected members of Abu Sayyaf were sentenced to death in August for kidnapping four care workers on the island of Basilan in 2001. Four of the men were sentenced in their absence.

Formal peace talks with Moro's Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is fighting to establish a Muslim state in Mindanao, would have resumed in April, but postponed for various reasons. One condition for the deliberations was that the MILF would break all ties with the Indonesian terrorist organization Jemaa Islamiyya, but it was unclear if that had happened. Both sides accused each other of violating the ceasefire that closed in 2003. It was hoped that the talks could begin in December under Malaysian mediation. The peace talks between the government and the NPA broke down in September.

Hundreds of people perished and tens of thousands became homeless when two typhoons hit the country at the end of November/December. Worst hit were the cities of Real, Infanta and General Nakar on the island of Luzon. Many were killed in landslides triggered by the rain. Extensive logging was said to have exacerbated the disaster. President Arroyo imposed a temporary halt to all felling, but laid a large part of the blame on those who had illegally cut down forests. Representatives of the environmental movement said that it was the commercial forest companies that did the most damage.

At least a dozen people were killed in a bomb attack on a Christmas market in the port city of General Santos, Mindanao. It was unclear who was behind the deed.

On December 14, Fernando Poe Jr., the second presidential election, died in a heart attack, 65 years old. During his 48-year acting career, Poe had starred in over 280 films.

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