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Yearbook 2015

Philippines. Several millions of people gathered in the capital Manila in January when Pope Francis held an outdoor fair. The pope had previously visited the city of Tacloban, which was particularly hard hit by the typhoon Haiyan just over a year earlier. According to COUNTRYAAH, around one million people were still homeless after Haiyan.

2015 Philippines

At least 45 policemen were killed in fighting with the Muslim guerrilla MILF (Moro's Islamic Liberation Front) in the south in January. The fight broke out after police entered the remote town of Mamasapano without warning, in violation of last year's historic peace agreement between the guerrillas and the government. President Benigno Aquino attended a ceremony honoring the dead police, but stressed the importance of keeping the peace agreement. Concerns rose during the year that the settlement would go unnoticed as self-government legislation for the Muslim minority in Mindanao was delayed in Parliament. Aquino had invested much of its political capital in securing the peace agreement.

The authorities made several attacks during the year against the Communist Party CPP and the Allied Maoist guerrilla NPA. A senior leader was arrested and one shot dead in June on the island of Mindanao, and later another leader was arrested on Panay. In early August, four guerrillas and a government soldier died in a firefight near the group's last strong hold on the island of Masbate.

The peace talks with the NPA, which is estimated to have around 4,000 members, had stopped when the government refused to yield to demands for the release of imprisoned guerrilla leaders.

In May, over 70 people died when a fire broke out at a shoe factory in Valenzuela north of Manila. It was described as one of the most serious fire accidents in the country's history. Most of the victims were on the second floor of the factory building and could not get out.

More than 60 people were killed when a ferry capsized in severe weather outside the port of Ormoc on the island of Leyte in July. Around 150 people could be rescued. The ferry's owner and crew, totaling 19 people, were indicted for manslaughter after the accident, which was suspected to have been caused by a combination of overcrowding and the human factor.

Nearly 2,000 children were taken to hospitals in July after suffering from food poisoning, probably caused by poor hygiene in the manufacture of sweets.

Three journalists were shot dead in just a few days in August. Journalist organizations have sharply criticized the government for failing to address the widespread violence against media representatives in the Philippines, which is described as one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists.

Save the Children in September raised alarms about high levels of inhibited growth due to malnutrition among children in the Philippines. Despite several years of good economic growth in the country, the problem of inhibited growth was found to be more widespread than in several of the poorest countries in Africa. About every third child was found to be shorter than it should be.

BIFF, an outbreak group from the MILF, killed at least ten farmers in a raid on Mindanao at Christmas and caused great concern among the island's Christian majority population. BIFF, which said to support the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in the Middle East, continued the armed struggle for an Islamic state.

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