Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 24 October 2017


The Republic of the Philippines signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 15 February 2000, becoming a State Party on 1 August 2000.

Implementation legislation for the Mine Ban Treaty was again introduced into both the House of Representatives and the Philippine Senate in 2016. “An Act Providing for a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Landmines, for Other Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Landmines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices, Creating for this Purpose a Philippines Coordinating Committee on Landmines, and for Related Purposes” was introduced in July 2016 to the 1st Regular Session of the 17th Congress, had a first reading, and was referred to the Committees on National Defense and Security and Finance as of August 2016. A corresponding Bill 239 is pending in the Senate, also as of August 2016.[1] Furthermore, House Bill 3386 corresponding “An Act Absolutely Prohibiting the Use of Mines, Booby-traps and other devices, providing for a total Ban on Antipersonnel Landmines and Creating for this purpose a Coordinating Committee on Landmine” was introduced by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.[2] Similar measures have been placed before the House of Representatives and Senate in the past, but have not been passed.[3] The scope of the new bills exceed the Mine Ban Treaty, in that they also prohibit “manually emplaced munitions and devices, including improvised explosives, made to kill, injure or damage, whether designed to be activated manually, by remote control, or automatically after the lapse of time.” The Philippines provided two updated Article 7 reports in March 2017, covering 2015 and 2016.[4] It has provided 11 previous reports.[5]

The Philippines attended the Mine Ban Treaty’s Fifteenth Meeting of States Parties in Santiago, Chile, in November–December 2016 and the convention’s intersessional meetings in Geneva in June 2017.

The Philippines is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines.

In February 2017, the Philippines Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL) encouraged the government and non-state armed group (NSAG), New People’s Army (NPA), to include cessation of improvised mine use in the ceasefire talks between the parties.[6] Previously, in January 2016, the PCBL initiated a postcard campaign to the Congressional House of Representatives and the Senate urging the passage of the implementation legislation for the Mine Ban Treaty before congress adjourned for new elections in February 2016.[7]

Production, transfer, stockpiling, and use

In 2015 and 2016, the Philippines reported that it continued to discover antipersonnel mines during inspections at ammunition depots, recover claymore mines in field operations, and seize improvised mines. In its 2015 Article 7 Form G(1), it recorded having discovered, and disposed of, 10 antipersonnel mines as a result of inspections at ammunition depots. It also reported recovering and disposing of 14 improvised mines and eight improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In its 2016 Article 7 Form G(1), it recorded having discovered, and disposed of, one claymore mine, and 14 antivehicle and seven improvised claymore mines.[8]

The Philippines has previously reported that it has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines. It destroyed its entire stockpile of antipersonnel mines—all Claymore-type mines—in 1998. It has not retained any live mines for training purposes. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has stated that it has never used antipersonnel mines to combat insurgency groups within the country.

Media reports regularly state that authorities have recovered “landmines” during operations against insurgents, most of which appear to be command-detonated improvised devices.[9] Previously, in December 2009, the Philippines told States Parties that all landmines and improvised mines recovered from NSAGs are destroyed immediately.[10]

Non-state armed groups

In the past, at least four NSAGs have used antipersonnel mines or victim-activated improvised mines, including the NPA, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Five NSAGs, including the MILF, have formally pledged in writing not to use antipersonnel mines.[11]

As of May 2017, the Philippines Army has been engaged in battles with an Islamist armed group in Marawi, Mindanao. The group has reportedly used improvised mines, resulting in casualties.[12] Periodic reports of improvised mine use attributed to Abu Sayyaf continue to emerge.[13]

Previously, in March 2014, the government of the Philippines and the MILF signed a comprehensive peace agreement.[14] A provision of the Annex on Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro concerns “Landmines and Unexploded Ordnance,” which mandates the PCBL and Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) to assist in the mine action work in the Bangsamoro. The implementation of this agreement has been ongoing since 2012, and is supported by the European Union.[15] The Philippine Congress has yet to pass a law on the creation of a new autonomous arrangement referred to as the Bangsamoro.[16] In March 2016, the PCBL accused the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway faction of the MILF, of using victim-activated explosive devices in the Barangay Tee region in Datu Salibo Municipality in the province of Maguindanao, and called on them to halt use and respect international humanitarian law.[17] In June 2016, an Islamist armed group left behind explosive devices after fleeing a camp, which caused death and injury to government troops.[18]

The NPA continued to use command-detonated improvised explosive devices in 2016 and 2017.[19] Philippine authorities and the media continue to refer to these as “landmines.” The NPA (the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, CPP) signed a Comprehensive Agreement to Respect Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) with the Philippine government in 1998.[20] The CARHRIHL commits both parties to protect the civilian population by not violating the “right not to be subjected to...the use of landmines,” but does not define “landmine.”

In 2017, the Monitor was provided a technical drawing of NPA remote-detonated explosive devices. The devices are fitted with an antihandling device that can be turned on or off manually. When used in the antihandling mode, the device would be considered banned under the Mine Ban Treaty. It is unknown how many of the NPA improvised explosives are fitted with this feature, or how often it is used.[21]

In August 2016, President Duterte called on the NPA to cease using landmines if it wanted to continue peace talks with the government.[22] The NPA refused, stating that its use of command-detonated landmines was not in violation of international law.[23] In response, the PCBL issued a statement in August noting that NPA use of command-detonated mines might be in line with the Mine Ban Treaty, but that it still threatened civilian non-combatants, and requested the NPA publicly declare a halt in use of all types of landmines.[24]

[1] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Reports, Form A (2016 only), 3 March 2017.

[2] Text of Senate Bill provided by email to the Monitor by Alfredo Lubang, Coordinator, Philippines Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL), 10 September 2017.

[3] See, ICBL, “Country Profile: Philippines: Mine Ban Policy profile,” 21 November 2016.

[4] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Reports (for the period of 1 January to 31 December 2015 & 1 January to 31 December 2016).

[5] Previous reports submitted 6 September 2013, for calendar year 2011; April 2010; 31 March 2007; 3 November 2006; 9 May 2005; 15 February 2004; 14 May 2003; 5 April 2002; 12 September 2001; and 12 September 2000. There was no report covering the year 2007.

[6]Statement on the CPP-NPA-NDF’s offer for bilateral ceasefire agreement negotiations,” PCBL Press Release, 21 February 2017. “PCBL urges both parties to tackle the issue of improvised landmines and IEDs as part of any ceasefire agreement. Ceasefire should also mean cease-the-use-of-improvised- explosives-and-landmines. Ending the use of landmines and IEDs will definitely boost the confidence of both parties to pursue other equally difficult agenda on the negotiating table.”

[7] Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL), 13 January 2016.

[8] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Reports, Form G (2015 and 2016), 3 March 2017.

[9] See, for example, Melvin Gascom, “6 soldiers hurt by landmine in Quirino province,” Inquirer, 17 July 2017.

[10] Statement by Erlinda F. Basilio, Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Mine Ban Treaty Second Review Conference, Cartagena, 3–4 December 2009.

[11] The MILF, the Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa-Mindanao/Revolutionary People’s Army (RPMM/RPA), the Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary People’s Army (RPMP/RPA) faction of Nilo de la Cruz, and the Marxista-Leninistang Partidong Pilipinas/Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan (MLPP/RHB) signed the “Rebel Group Declaration of Adherence to International Humanitarian Law on Landmines” of the PCBL. The MILF, the Revolutionary Workers Party of the Philippines/Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, and the Revolutionary Workers Party of Mindanao/Revolutionary People’s Army signed the “Deed of Commitment under Geneva Call for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action.”

[12] See, “AFP: 2 soldiers lost legs after tripping on land mines in Marawi,” GMA News, 18 August 2017. Also, “Snipers, land mines delay liberation of Marawi City,” Business Mirror, 26 June 2017.

[13] Bong Garcia, “Bomb explosion kills farm owner in Basilan,” SunStar Zamboanga, 20 March 2017.

[14] Government of the Philippines, “Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” 28 March 2014.

[15] Email from Alfredo Lubang, Coordinator, PCBL, 10 October 2017.

[16] Jose Rodel Clapano, “Congress buries Bangsamoro bill,” Philippine Star, 4 February 2016.

[18] The device appears to have been victim activated, but details of the mechanism were not available to the Monitor. The use was attributed to Dawlah Islamiya, comprised of rogue MILF and foreign combatants led by Abdullah Maute. “2 soldiers killed, 5 hurt in landmine blast in Lanao Sur,” Inquirer, 2 June 2016.

[19] Ben O. Tesiorna, “Communist leadership to combatants: Use more land mines,” CNN Philippines, 9 August 2016.

[20] CARHRIHL, Part III: Respect for Human Rights, Article 2(15), 16 March 1998. The government considers use of command-detonated devices as well as any type of landmine as banned by CARHRIHL, while the NPA considers only use of victim-activated devices banned.

[21] Technical drawings of “NPA Improvised Remote Firing Switch with integral anti‐lift device” based on a device recovered by FSD in June 2015 in Sarangani province, Mindanao. Provided to the Monitor by email, 9 September 2017.

[22] Edith Regalado and Giovanni Nilles, “Reds told: Stop using landmines or no peace talks,” Philippine Star, 8 August 2016.

[23] Ben O. Tesiorna, “Communist leadership to combatants: Use more land mines,” CNN Philippines, 9 August 2016.