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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

Military operations continued against Islamist militants, including Islamic State (ISIS)-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in south, notably in interior parts of Maguindanao province and Sulu province’s Patikul town, while communist rebels clashed with armed forces in several regions. In BARMM, armed forces 23-24 Nov killed six ASG members, including a major leader, in two separate encounters in Sulu province. Army operations against BIFF and ASG led to temporary alliances between sub-groups, notably ASG’s Radullan Sahiron and Hatib Sawadjaan. Army 25 Nov, with help from local Moro National Liberation Front, rescued British national and his wife, kidnapped by ASG 4 Oct, near Parang town, Sulu province. Political violence also resurgent, including ambush by unidentified perpetrators on Lanao del Sur mayor in Buadipuso-Buntong town 10 Nov that killed police escort and injured two civilians. As part of Bangsamoro peace process implementation, decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants continued, with more than 7,000 members laying down arms since late Sept. Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) continued its work, with working groups focusing on drafting priority legislation, including administrative code, election code and local govt code. BARMM end-Nov also approved 65.6bn Peso budget for 2020. While surrenders of communist New People’s Army (NPA) members to armed forces continued, clashes took place in Nueva Ecija and Quezon (Luzon, north), northern and eastern Samar island (Visayas, centre) and Agusan del Sur and Bukidnon Sultan Kudarat (Mindanao, south). NPA attacks included explosive device in Borongan in eastern Samar, killing six soldiers and injuring twenty others 12 Nov. Security forces early Nov arrested over 40 NPA militants in Negros island (Visayas).

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Reports & Briefings

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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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
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