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Philippines

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

Clashes persisted in south between militant groups and security forces following deadly blast in Aug; clan fighting also continued in south. In Maguindanao province in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), security forces’ operations following deadly blasts in Jolo in late Aug resulted in small clashes between soldiers and elements of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu; special forces 9 Sept led operation in suspected hideout of ASG sub-leader Zamboanga Sibugay in Roseller Lim municipality, which killed five suspected ASG militants and left two soldiers wounded; one militant 28 Sept also killed in Patikul. Roadside bomb 18 Sept killed one marine, wounding four others in Datu Hoffer town. In Basilan province, armed group 16 Sept kidnapped Filipino businessman. Clan conflicts continued in BARMM and in adjacent provinces of Sultan Kudarat and nearby province of Sarangani in the town of Maitum; in Maitum, two Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)-affiliated groups 11-13 Sept fought intermittently, killing two and wounding several. In Lanao del Sur, MILF represented by Abdullah Macapaar of Northwestern Mindanao Front agreed to convince members of Dawlah Islamiya insurgent group to lay down arms. Clashes between communist New People’s Army and armed forces continued in Luzon in north, Visayas in centre and Mindanao in south, although at relatively lower level compared to Aug; clashes killed at least 14 combatants and civilians and injured one throughout month.

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In The News

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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Report / Asia

The Philippines: Militancy and the New Bangsamoro

The new autonomous Bangsamoro region in Muslim Mindanao promises to address longstanding local grievances and drivers of militancy in the Philippines. But the Bangsamoro leadership faces steep challenges in disarming thousands of former militants, reining in other Islamist groups and transitioning from guerrillas to government.

Commentary / Asia

Philippines: Addressing Islamist Militancy after the Battle for Marawi

The Philippine city of Marawi, on Mindanao island, remains in ruins more than a year after a five-month jihadist takeover. To avoid fuelling militancy, Manila must involve locals in reconstruction, implement a 2014 deal with Mindanao separatists and go beyond efforts to counter jihadist ideology.

Op-Ed / Asia

Philippines Peace Process: Duterte Playing for High Stakes

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has put his weight unequivocally behind efforts to bring a negotiated end to more than four decades of conflict in the south of the country, but uncertainty is bleeding momentum from the process and the clock is ticking.

Originally published in The Interpreter

Op-Ed / Asia

The Philippines' Misguided Plan to Stop South China Sea Tensions

Cooperating on oil won't work - but fishing might.

Originally published in The National Interest

Op-Ed / Asia

Why Duterte Needs to Move Fast to End Decades-long Insurgency

The southern Philippines is potentially closer to peace than at any time in the four decades since Muslim insurgents started fighting for independence, but the substantial progress over the past six years is also fragile. The new President, Rodrigo Duterte, needs to build quickly on the foundations laid by the last administration or the process risks collapse.

Originally published in The Interpreter

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Georgi Engelbrecht

Senior Analyst, Philippines
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Katrina Auditor

Fellow, Philippines