Philippines. At the beginning of the year, the Senate
initiated a civil trial against the Chief Judge of the
Supreme Court, Renato Corona, who was suspected of
corruption and of trying to prevent a lawsuit against former
President Gloria Arroyo. After a dramatic televised trial,
Corona was found guilty of corruption - he had secretly
secured large bank assets. He was deposed in May and
suspended from all public office in the future. It was the
first time a high-ranking official was convicted by national
law, and it was seen as a success for President Benigno
Aquino and his campaign against corruption.
countryaah, prosecution was also filed in April against President
Arroyo, who was arrested in November for suspected election
fraud. In July, she was released on bail, but was still
prohibited from leaving the country. In October, Arroyo was
arrested again, now on suspicion of stealing millions from a
state charity lottery. Arroyo, who was sick, was detained at
a military hospital.
A conflict with China over the boundary line in the South
China Sea intensified in April. When the Philippine Coast
Guard attempted to control Chinese fishing boats at the
disputed Scarborough Reef, China sent patrol boats blocking
Philippine fishermen. Demonstrations against China took
place in the capital Manila. The countries have long
disputed the supremacy over the reef. The boats were
withdrawn in June with reference to approaching storms with
no solution to the conflict.
Interior Minister Jesse Robredo died in an air crash in
August. Several national mourning days were announced and
many publicly expressed their grief as Robredo was very
popular and known as an indomitable politician.
In October, the government and the largest Muslim rebel
group in the country, the MILF, signed a framework agreement
on peace in a new attempt to put a stop to the more than
40-year-old armed conflict in the southern Philippines. The
settlement included plans for a Muslim region with increased
self-government in the southern Philippines, called
Bangsamoro. The MILF was said to have given up its demands
on its own state and eventually agreed to disarm, but no
details of a future peace agreement were available. The
framework agreement was nevertheless seen as a victory for
President Aquino, who came to power with promises to try to
make peace with the guerrillas.
Aquino was also praised abroad for his fight against
corruption. Growth in the Philippines was high, more and
more foreign investors were attracted to the country and the
Manila Stock Exchange set a record during the year.
The typhoon Bopha, an unusual tropical storm, advanced
across the country in December, causing major damage.
Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their
homes and over 1,500 perished.
A new law was passed on free contraception and family
planning. The law was the result of a long political battle
where not least the Catholic Church struggled to increase
access to contraception. The supporters hoped that the law
would lead to reduced poverty and mortality for women.