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After decades of insurgency, the government of the Philippines is making efforts to deliver peace to Mindanao in the south of the country. Although the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in 2019 can be seen as an initial success on the road to peace, this entity is faced with a difficult task in managing the transition until the 2022 elections. Violence continues between the government and several armed groups, including ISIS-affiliated elements and the communist New People's Army. Through field research and advocacy, Crisis Group works to support the peace processes, promote strategies designed to limit the space for jihadist recruitment and mobilisation, and strengthen social cohesion in Mindanao.

CrisisWatch Philippines

Unchanged Situation

Insecurity persisted in south amid election-related violence and security operations against Islamist armed groups, while clashes with communist rebels continued at lower lethality. Tensions and violence linked to polls on 9 May continued during month in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, largely concentrated in Datu Odin Sinsuat town and municipality, Maguindanao province; notably, unknown shooters 6 June killed two civilians in Taviran village. Also in Maguindanao, unknown assailants same day killed two and injured four in Kalanganan village, Cotabato city. Two partisan armed groups linked to politicians from warring clans in Datu Odin Sinsuat town same day clashed in Benolen district. Unidentified gunmen 17 June ambushed govt militia fighters in Makir village, killing one and injuring three militia fighters. In General Salipada K. Pendatun town, armed groups associated with rival local politicians, including Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) elements, clashed 12 June; local govt, MILF and military intervened and temporarily stemmed violence. In Marawi province, Mayor Majul Gandamra 7 June said Marawi city officials are identifying key tourism and investment options as post-siege reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts near completion. Military combatted Islamist armed groups in south. Notably, military 1 June killed suspected Dawlah Islamiyah Maguindanao Group bomber and arrested his companion in M’lang town, Cotabato province; 7 June reported killing previous day alleged Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – East Asia spokesperson in operation in Maguindanao province. Two wanted Abu Sayyaf suspects accused of beheading foreign nationals in 2015-2016 17 June surrendered to military in Sulu province. Military and police same day killed Norodin Guimad, leader of unnamed “armed lawless group”, and follower in Matanog town, Maguindanao. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army continued at lower levels compared to May; violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north claimed at least four fatalities and six injuries among combatants and civilians. U.S. Deputy Sec State Wendy Sherman 9 June met President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in capital Manila, and pledged to deepen economic ties and preserve “a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

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19 Aug 2016
If [President] Duterte can move this [the peace deal] forward during this honeymoon period rapidly, it has a much better chance of going through. I think it's an opportunity that's a tragedy to lose. ABS-CBN News
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Georgi Engelbrecht

Senior Analyst, Philippines