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.
Local insecurity persisted in south, while clashes continued between govt and Communist rebels.
Clashes between armed groups and clan feuds continued. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), insecurity persisted; in Maguindanao del Norte province, gunmen 12 Jan attacked Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members belonging to 104 Base Command, sparking local clashes between armed groups in Sultan Kudarat town. Twenty gunmen from Datu Odin Sinsuat town 18 Jan attacked Moro community on outskirts of Cotabato city, killing two and injuring five after strafing houses mostly owned by MILF-aligned Pangilan clan; officials attributed attack to clan feuding. Decommissioning phase of peace process between govt and MILF remained slow through Jan. In Marawi city, European Union, UN’s children agency, BARMM officials and local executives 16 Jan launched €4mn program comprising health, education, child protection and disaster risk reduction provisions for tens of thousands affected by 2017 conflict in Marawi city.
Islamist militant activity continued amid surrenders. Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) elements 8 Jan clashed with local paramilitary in Lamitan city, Basilan province, injuring four. Meanwhile, 21 ASG members and supporters 5 Jan surrendered to military in Jolo town, Sulu province, and five surrendered 12 Jan in Ungkaya Pukan town, Basilan province. In Maguindanao del Norte, six Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters members 16 Jan surrendered to military in Tacurong town.
Communist insurgency killed eight, displaced hundreds. 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 eight combatant and civilian fatalities and three injuries. Clashes 18 Jan in Negros occidental displaced hundreds of civilians.
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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