Economic and Political Reform in the Philippines, 1986–96: the Evolving Role of Human Rights NGOs

  • Gerard Clarke
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


On 24 and 25 November 1996, 18 heads of state attended the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at Subic Bay, 150 km northwest of Manila. Formerly a United States naval base with a land area of over 7000 hectares, Subic Bay was transformed into an export-processing zone and ship-repair facility following the termination of the US-Philippines Bases Agreement in 1992. By 1996 Subic had become a successful industrial enclave and was chosen as the summit venue to highlight the Philippines’ new-found economic dynamism. At the same time, 400 activists and academics from the Philippines and abroad attended a counter-summit in Manila organized by the Manila People’s Forum on APEC (MFPA). Human rights issues figured prominently in the backdrop to the counter-summit. José Ramos Horta, a prominent advocate of the independence of East Timor and winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, was denied a visa to attend the conference. Provoking further outcry among civil rights campaigners, other activists were denied entry to the Philippines at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport. At Plaza Roma in Manila’s Intramuros district, meanwhile, a “tent city” supported by human rights and other NGOs was erected to highlight the eviction of an estimated 250 000 slum-dwellers from their homes in a campaign to improve the city’s appearance for the APEC summit.1


Civil Society Communist Party Gross National Product Political Reform Political Prisoner 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Gerard Clarke

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