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.
On 9 May, residents of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, part of the southern Philippines, voted in local elections. Organised in parallel to national polls, these contests pitted former rebels against powerful political clans, with an incomplete peace process hanging in the balance.
Insecurity persisted in south amid ongoing militant arrests and surrenders, while clashes between govt and Communist rebels continued as communist party founder died.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)-linked militants clashed with military in south. Philippine paramilitary 9 Dec fought MILF-affiliated armed group in Aleosan town, Cotabato province, allegedly over longstanding land feud, killing nine and wounding six. Decommissioning phase of peace process between govt and MILF continued at slower pace due to Dec holidays.
Militant arrests and surrenders continued in south. Police and military 15 Dec arrested two Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members allegedly involved in kidnappings and killing during joint execution of search warrant in Panamao town, Sulu province, with five others escaping. Meanwhile, 44 Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters belonging to Karialan faction members 9 Dec surrendered to army in Kabacan town, Maguindanao province, handing over firearms and explosives.
Communist insurgency killed two, senior communist party leader died abroad. Military operations and some militant ambushes by communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north claimed three combatant and civilian fatalities and ten injuries. Military 13 Dec reported dismantling of Eastern Mindanao Command and six NPA units primarily in Davao and Bukidnon regions, Mindanao. Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison 16 Dec died in Netherlands; Department of National Defense urged insurgents to surrender, while minority bloc in House celebrated Sison as “patriot and revolutionary” calling for renewed peace talks. CPP 20 Dec said NPA would not observe ceasefire over holiday season.
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 opportun...
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Delays in the decommissioning of Moro rebels and other measures threaten the fragile peace in the newly created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
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