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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

In south, violence continued unabated, while concerns over spread of COVID-19 delayed implementation of peace agreement. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), clan feuds continued, including: in Palimbang on Mindanao island before temporary ceasefire agreement reached on 11 July; in Tipo-Tipo municipality on Basilan island, where firefight involving members of local army and paramilitary 3 July broke out, killing four and injuring four; in Pigcawayan municipality in North Cotabato, Mindanao, where an ambush 10 July left four men dead; in Datu municipality, Minguadanao, Mindanao island, where members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and local politician’s supporters 14 July engaged in tit-for-tat gunfights in Montawal municipality, wounding two combatants; and in South Upi municipality, Minguadanao, where tensions between members of MILF and indigenous Teduray natives over land persisted. In Maguindanao province, violence involving Islamist militants continued with slight escalation between govt and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters: notably, insurgents of Ansara Khilafa Philippines 1 July clashed with police operatives in Polomolok town in South Cotabato province, killing one militant; bomb explosion targeting police car 10 July killed two policemen and injured four in Shariff Aguak municipality; army infantry force 30 July exchanged fire with militants near Datu Salibo town, leaving two soldiers and about ten militants dead. Clashes between govt forces and elements of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group continued in Sulu province, including killing of five Abu Sayyaf members in Patikul municipality on 6 July. In south, concerns over spike in COVID-19 cases delayed implementation of peace agreement between govt and MILF as interim govt focused on responding to coronavirus. Efforts to rehabilitate Marawi city also stagnated once again due to govt’s focus on contagion; task force Bangon Marawi on 15 July announced govt however remained on track to complete city’s rehabilitation by Dec 2021. Govt 1 July signed agreement with EU for €25mn in Support to Bangsamoro Transition program to help Bangsamoro executive and parliament’s capacity during transition. Meanwhile, clashes between communist New People’s Army and armed forces in Visayas in centre, Mindanao in south, and Luzon in north continued at comparable levels as in June, killing at least 13 combatants and civilians in total 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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Latest Updates

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

Report / Asia

The Philippines: Renewing Prospects for Peace in Mindanao

Hopes are high that one of the world’s longest-running civil conflicts can be resolved in the Philippines. The newly-elected president must act on his commitment to the outgoing administration’s promise of autonomy for the southern Bangsamoro (Muslim Nation) population. Failure to do so risks more lawlessness or reigniting the insurgency.

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Georgi Engelbrecht

Senior Analyst, Philippines

Katrina Auditor

Fellow, Philippines