CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.

Filter
Filters Active
Crisis Watch Filter
Clear Filters

January 2023

Asia

Philippines

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.

December 2022

Asia

Philippines

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.

November 2022

Asia

Philippines

Insecurity persisted in south amid govt security operations and feuding between militants, while confrontations between govt and communist rebels killed dozens.

Tensions with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members flared in south. In breach of ceasefire, 64th Infantry Battalion 10 Nov clashed with elements of MILF’s 114 Base Command in Ungkaya Pukan town, Basilan province, killing ten fighters and displacing some 2,000 families. In sign of inter-group feuding, suspected Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) member 18 Nov killed MILF commander; clashes erupted between family members associated with both in Kuloy village, Maguindanao.

Operations against Islamist militants continued amid surrenders. Notably, 33rd Infantry Battalion 5 Nov clashed with BIFF militants in Shariff Aguak town, Maguindanao province. Police 17 Nov arrested Abu Sayaff Group (ASG) sub-leader Ibraham Asara in Parang town, Sulu province, following ten years in hiding in province. In Maguindanao, six BIFF members 4 Nov surrendered in Pikit town, with further three militants surrendering 19 Nov in Rajah Buayan town. In Zamboanga City, three ASG militants formerly aligned with deceased commander Isnilon Hapilon 4 Nov surrendered, with further seven surrendering 9 Nov in Luuk municipality, Sulu province.

Clashes between military and communist rebels claimed high death toll. Military operations and some militant ambushes by communist New People’s Army in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north claimed at least 28 combatant and civilian fatalities.

October 2022

Asia

Philippines

Local officials and community members in Marawi urged govt to accelerate rehabilitation amid ongoing insecurity in south.

Local calls for Marawi’s rehabilitation five years on continued. In Marawi city, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Lanao del Sur provincial officials and multisectoral group of Maranaos 11 Oct urged President Marcos, Jr. to speed up activation of Marawi Compensation Board, aimed at compensating survivors of 2017 siege, and called on Marcos to appoint only qualified Maranaos and survivors of siege to nine-seat board. Task Force Bangon Marawi Assistant Secretary Felix Castro 13 Oct said 5,000 families remain in temporary shelters in Marawi city.

Operations targeting jihadist militancy persisted in south. In Maguindanao province of BARMM, military in first week of Oct launched operations on outskirts of Shariff Saydona town in SPSM-Box (area consisting of Shariff Aguak, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Mamasapano, and Shariff Saydona towns), overrunning camp of militants and recovering bombs. Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) 13 Oct clashed with govt forces in Patikul town, Sulu province, killing one ASG member. Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) members same day attacked military post in Datu Salibo town, killing one soldier and injuring another. Meanwhile, militant surrenders continued: in Maguindanao, ten BIFF members 7 Oct surrendered in Ampatuan town, while three ASG members affiliated to deceased commander Isnilon Hapilon 18 Oct surrendered in Zamboanga city. In Basilan province, two ASG members 19 Oct surrendered in Isabela city.

Security forces and communist militants clashed. Military operations or militant ambushes in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north claimed at least seven combatant and civilian fatalities, with 17 injured. Notably, clashes between military and communist New People’s Army (NPA) 6 Oct flared up in Negros Occidental, displacing 18,236 residents in Himamaylan city.

September 2022

Asia

Philippines

Localised jihadist activity persisted in south, implementation of Peace Accord in Mindanao continued apace, and violence linked to communist insurgency left over dozen dead.

Jihadist violence persisted in Mindanao. Alleged Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) gunmen 15 Sept ambushed and killed three soldiers en route to infantry detachment on hill in Magcawa village in Al Barka town, Basilan province. Six ASG members 1 Sept surrendered to police in Jolo municipality, Sulu province. Eight Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters combatants 3 Sept surrendered to military in Rajah Buayan municipality, Maguindanao province. Two members of Ussam clan’s private militia 16 Sept surrendered in Bongao municipality, Tawi-Tawi province.

Implementation of Peace Accord in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region continued apace. Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) inaugurated new legislature. President Marcos Jr. 15 Sept attended inauguration of BTA parliament in Cotabato City, praising achievements of Bangsamoro Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim and asking parliament to pass crucial legislation “on fiscal policy… and to facilitate the conduct of the elections in the BARMM in 2025”. Plebiscite vote 17 Sept officially divided Maguindanao into Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur. Third phase of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) decommissioning 27 Sept resumed in Maguindanao; at least 5,500 combatants are scheduled to be decommissioned until end of 2022. Meanwhile, authorities continued reconstruction efforts in Marawi city. Lanao del Sur Provincial Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. 15 Sept said 95% of roads destroyed during 2017 Marawi siege had been rebuilt while reconstruction continued on some govt facilities; next day said residents refused to settle into govt-provided housing due to “substandard” construction. Lanao del Sur district Congressman Ziaur-Rahman Alonto Adiong 16 Sept said Marawi “is the longest calamity-stricken area in the country” amid ongoing rehabilitation.

Clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army continued. Violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north saw at least 17 combatant and civilian fatalities with one injured.

August 2022

Asia

Philippines

Insecurity persisted in south amid jihadist activity, clan violence and fighting between armed forces and communist militants. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, military 5 Aug killed gunman Khamhed Akan Kambal of Daulah Islamiyah-Hassan Group, allegedly linked to Islamic State, and arrested another member in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province. Police 16 Aug arrested former barangay chairman and two cohorts suspected of connections to Islamic State-linked Daulah Islamiyah-Maute Group in Marantao municipality, Lanao del Sur province. Gunmen 30 Aug killed police chief and his driver and wounded three others in Ampatuan town. Two rival clans 10 Aug clashed in Macabual town, Pikit municipality, killing five, including four members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) factions, and displacing 100 families; police and MILF deployed peacekeepers and emissaries to contain violence. Militant surrenders continued during month. Notably, five Abu Sayaff Group (ASG) fighters 3 Aug surrendered in Talipao municipality, Sulu province; 13 ASG members 5 Aug surrendered in Ungkaya Pukan town, Basilan province; and two ASG members surrendered 11 Aug in Isabela city. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army continued; violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north claimed at least 17 combatant and civilian fatalities and six injured. Provincial Local Govt Unit of Davao Occidental (Mindanao) and 10th Infantry “Agila” Division 18 Aug officially declared province “insurgency free”. Govt forces 22 Aug initially reported gunfire and boat explosion around Samar Island that allegedly killed Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, leaders of Communist Party; as of late month, military did not confirm deaths. President Marcos Jr. 12 Aug swore into office 80 members of Bangsamoro Transition Authority few months after his election as president. In Marawi city, Lanao del Sur province, Congressman Zia Alonto Adiong 15 Aug called on President Marcos Jr. to immediately establish Marawi Compensation Board to grant financial aid for 2017 Marawi siege victims, including 85,335 internally displaced people and those whose properties were damaged during fighting.

July 2022

Asia

Philippines

Insecurity continued in south amid military operations against armed groups, suspected clan feuds and gun attacks linked to May elections. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, soldiers 18 July killed suspected Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) bombmaker in Shariff Saydona town following soldier deployment in so-called SPMS-Box (four-town area in Maguindanao province known for being BIFF stronghold). In Lanao del Sur province, two alleged supporters of Islamic State-linked Maute Group 2 July surrendered to police in Marawi city. Six Abu Sayyaf Group members 16 July surrendered in Patikul municipality, Sulu province, with further four militants surrendering 18 July in Lamitan city, Basilan province. Gunmen 6 July killed former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commander in Datu Hoffer, Tuayan village, Maguindanao, in possible clan feud. Insecurity following May’s heated electoral contests persisted. In Basilan province, unidentified gunmen 19 July killed Albarka town elections officer Ruayna Sayadi in Isabela city, marking third such killing of election officers in province since May elections. In Sultan Kadarat province, unknown attackers 10 July shot school district supervisor of Buluan town, in his residence in President Quirino town, and unidentified gunman 12 July clashed with police in Simuay village, injuring four. Gunman 24 July killed three, including former mayor of Lamitan city, Basilan province, and injured one at Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon city, in wider Metro Manila area. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army continued at more lethal levels than in June; violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north led to at least 20 combatant and civilian fatalities and seven injuries. In Marawi, Lanao del Sur province, Department of Environment and Natural Resources 9 July turned over new sanitary landfill facilities to city govt of Marawi. Govt Commission on Audit 2 July spotlighted Local Water Utilities Administration’s unreleased funds set aside for rehabilitation of areas affected by 2017 Marawi city siege.

June 2022

Asia

Philippines

Insecurity persisted in south amid election-related violence and security operations against Islamist armed groups, while clashes with communist rebels continued at lower lethality. Tensions and violence linked to polls on 9 May continued during month in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, largely concentrated in Datu Odin Sinsuat town and municipality, Maguindanao province; notably, unknown shooters 6 June killed two civilians in Taviran village. Also in Maguindanao, unknown assailants same day killed two and injured four in Kalanganan village, Cotabato city. Two partisan armed groups linked to politicians from warring clans in Datu Odin Sinsuat town same day clashed in Benolen district. Unidentified gunmen 17 June ambushed govt militia fighters in Makir village, killing one and injuring three militia fighters. In General Salipada K. Pendatun town, armed groups associated with rival local politicians, including Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) elements, clashed 12 June; local govt, MILF and military intervened and temporarily stemmed violence. In Marawi province, Mayor Majul Gandamra 7 June said Marawi city officials are identifying key tourism and investment options as post-siege reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts near completion. Military combatted Islamist armed groups in south. Notably, military 1 June killed suspected Dawlah Islamiyah Maguindanao Group bomber and arrested his companion in M’lang town, Cotabato province; 7 June reported killing previous day alleged Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – East Asia spokesperson in operation in Maguindanao province. Two wanted Abu Sayyaf suspects accused of beheading foreign nationals in 2015-2016 17 June surrendered to military in Sulu province. Military and police same day killed Norodin Guimad, leader of unnamed “armed lawless group”, and follower in Matanog town, Maguindanao. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army continued at lower levels compared to May; violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north claimed at least four fatalities and six injuries among combatants and civilians. U.S. Deputy Sec State Wendy Sherman 9 June met President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in capital Manila, and pledged to deepen economic ties and preserve “a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

May 2022

Asia

Philippines

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. elected as new president, Bangsamoro witnessed local electoral violence, and clashes between govt and militants continued in south. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. 9 May won presidential elections with over 80% turnout by wide margin, while Sara Duterte-Carpio — daughter of incumbent President Duterte — won vice presidency. Bangsamoro Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim 13 May congratulated Marcos, assuring him of Bangsamoro govt’s continued “openness, cooperation and friendship”. Office of Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity same day assured next president would support peace agenda of outgoing Duterte administration; exchanges come amid stalled disarmament process, with several thousand Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters still scheduled to be disarmed. Election held relatively peacefully, although localised firefights, bombings and shootings were recorded in south. At least seven casualties and 30 injuries were reported in and around the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, while violence in some villages of Butig, Tuburan and Binidayan municipalities, Lanao del Sur province, necessitated repeat of election. Insecurity continued through month in Bangsamoro. Military 6 May clashed with suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants on outskirts of Isabela city, Basilan province, killing one militant; Special Forces intelligence team of Philippine army recovered high-grade explosives and IED components in aftermath of clash. In Sulu province, military 16 May clashed with alleged ASG militants of Radullan Sahiron faction in Indanan town, wounding three soldiers. In Maguindanao province, military 23 May launched offensive against militants in Shariff Saydona town, conducting airstrikes that killed at least one rebel. In Marawi city, Task Force Bangon Marawi 16 May said rehabilitation is 72% complete, inaugurated several unfinished infrastructure projects ahead of fifth anniversary of Marawi siege 23 May; UN Human Settlements Programme 19 May said one thousand houses have been turned over to internally displaced families. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army continued at lower levels from April; violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north led to at least seven fatalities and three injuries among both combatants and civilians.

April 2022

Asia

Philippines

Clashes between authorities and militants continued in south, while lethal violence between govt and communist rebels rose, leaving at least 25 dead. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, clashes between militants and authorities continued through month. Notably, in Basilan province military 2 April launched operation against alleged members of Abu Sayyaf Group in Sumisip town, causing two militant casualties; Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) claimed some of targeted fighters were its own, in second such claim made by MILF in two months following clashes between military and alleged Abu Sayyaf Group militants. In Shariff Saydona Mustapha town, military 18 April killed MILF combatant in Datu Kilay village after rebels allegedly fired upon military; MILF accused govt of raiding community. Both incidents come amid stable but stalled peace process. Govt 8 April extended mandate of International Monitoring Team monitoring peace process with MILF until end of June 2022. Militant surrenders from other armed groups continued during April. Notably, two Abu Sayyaf Group militants 5 April laid down arms in Sulu province, while govt figures 12 April showed two Islamic State-affiliated Maute Group militants surrendered in Piagapo municipality, Lanao del Sur province. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army continued; in marked uptick from March, violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north led to at least 25 combatant and civilian fatalities. In Marawi province, presidential candidate and son of former dictator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. 2 April expressed confidence in rebuilding Marawi city before President Duterte steps down in June. Duterte 27 April signed into law measure that will provide tax-free monetary compensation for people who died and lost their properties during Marawi events in 2018. Preparations continued for general election scheduled for 9 May; polling conducted mid-to-late month showed Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. with comfortable lead in presidential race.

March 2022

Asia

Philippines

Violence persisted at slightly elevated levels in south, while lethal clashes continued between military and communist rebels. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, month saw uptick in both clashes between militants and authorities as well as clan violence linked to electoral disputes. In Lanao del Sur province, military 1 March launched airstrike and engaged in firefight against alleged Islamic State (ISIS)-affiliated Maute Group militants, displacing 1,000 civilians and killing seven militants; Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) claimed some fighters belonged to them, while govt 3 March denied targeting MILF; incident comes amid stable but stalled peace process. In Sulu province, govt forces arrested wife of known ISIS-linked Abu Sayyaf Group sub-leader Mundi Sawadjaan. Clan-related violence also continued. Notably, in Maguindanao province, two families 10 March clashed in Matanog town, killing two and injuring three, while several shootings 17 March killed three in Datu Odin Sinsuat town, possibly linked to electoral disputes or clan-related issues. Militant surrenders continued through month. Notably, one Maute Group sub-leader 16 March surrendered to govt in Lanao del Sur. Govt figures 18 March showed 39 combatants from Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and its ISIS-inspired splinter groups surrendered in Maguindanao province. In Basilan province, one Abu Sayyaf fighter 20 March surrendered in Al-Barka town. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army persisted; violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north killed at least eight combatants and civilians, and injured six. In Marawi city, some 250 internally displaced families 3 March received permanent housing units in Barangay Gadongan through govt-led Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM). Ahead of elections in May, presidential campaign entered high gear, with Ferdinand Marcos Jr. leading polls.

February 2022

Asia

Philippines

Violence continued in south with greater lethality, while clashes between govt forces and communist rebels persisted. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, month witnessed slight uptick in both clashes between militants and authorities and clan violence. Notably, in Sulu province, military 3 Feb clashed with members of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group in Patikul town, killing one soldier and one militant. In Lanao del Sur province, marines 3 Feb clashed with Maute militants in Balabagan town. With regard to clan-related relations, armed group members 11 Feb ambushed Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commander and his relatives, killing nine and injuring three. Militant surrenders continued through month. Three members associated with armed group in Maute 1 Feb surrendered in Marawi province, while two Abu Sayyaf members 3 Feb surrendered in Patikul town, Sulu province; 14 Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) combatants from Karialan faction 15 Feb surrendered in Midsayap town, Cotabato province. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army persisted at broadly similar levels to Jan; violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north killed at least eight combatants and civilians and injured three during Feb. In Marawi city, housing officials 15 Feb cast doubt on progress of reconstruction, saying major housing projects in Marawi may not be completed by the time President Duterte steps down in June.

January 2022

Asia

Philippines

Low-level violence continued in south, while skirmishes between govt forces and communist rebels persisted, albeit at reduced frequency and lethality. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, militants and military forces engaged in few major clashes amid some instances of political violence. In Maguindanao province, unknown gunmen 7 Jan fired on house of mayor of Datu Piang municipality. In Cotabato province, bus explosion 11 Jan injured six people in Aleosan town, including three children. Police and military 15 Jan conducted operations against alleged members of Al-Khobar gang suspected of responsibility for explosion, killing four; gang is allegedly linked to jihadist militants formerly under control of Salahuddin Hassan. Military 17 Jan clashed with Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group in Sumisip town, Basilan province, killing one militant. In Talipao town, Sulu province, two Abu Sayyaf members 3 Jan surrendered. In Marawi city, rehabilitation efforts continued. Department of human settlements and urban development 20 Jan inaugurated two public infrastructure projects, including Pumping Bridge in Barangay Raya Madaya previously destroyed in 2017 fighting. Senate 24 Jan adopted resolution granting amnesty to Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants following earlier proclamation by President Duterte in Feb 2021. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist group New People’s Army (NPA) dropped in frequency compared to last month, following general trend of lull in hostilities at end of year. Yet, incidents between govt security forces and rebels in Mindanao Island in south and Visayas Islands in centre killed five combatants and one civilian. Preparations for May presidential elections continued. Election Commission 17 Jan rejected petition from civic leaders seeking to disqualify candidacy of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on basis of tax fraud; petition comes amid several filed by civil rights groups since Nov 2021.

December 2021

Asia

Philippines

Violence persisted at low levels in south, while deadly clashes between govt forces and communists continued. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, clashes between militants and military forces were rare during month, notwithstanding relative insecurity. In Maguindanao province, Philippine security forces 2 Dec killed son of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) militant Hassan Indal in Ganta village; killing may suggest change in govt tactics to target top militant leaders instead of large-scale offensives. Unidentified gunmen same day shot off-duty policeman in Kauran village, Ampatuan town. In Sulu province, members of Radullan Sahiron’s faction of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group 8 Dec clashed with military forces, killing one soldier and two militants. In Marawi city, rehabilitation efforts continued. Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) 8 Dec said more internally displaced people affected by 2017 siege could start rebuilding houses inside Marawi city’s ground zero by third week of Jan 2022; TFBM head Eduardo del Rosario and Mayor of Marawi Majul Gandamra 8 Dec agreed to expedite release of building permits for some 1,500 applicants. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist group New People’s Army (NPA) persisted with greater lethality compared to last month: govt security operations or rebel ambushes in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north killed at least 20 combatants and civilians and injured six. Over 150 members of NPA-affiliated organisations 10 Dec surrendered to authorities. Typhoon Rai (Odette) as of 21 Dec left at least 378 dead in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte province, Mindanao, and parts of Visayas, with authorities warning that without urgent humanitarian assistance, lack of food and water could lead to looting; NPA fighters in Negros Island, Visayas, committed to aid rehabilitation efforts.

November 2021

Asia

Philippines

Violence abated in south, where over dozen militants of various armed groups surrendered, while lethal clashes between military and communist militants continued. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, November saw no major clashes. Three Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters members 11 Nov surrendered in Salunayan municipality, Cotabato province, while 13 Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group members 13 Nov surrendered in Patikul municipality, Sulu province; three Maute group members 19 Nov surrendered in Madalum municipality, Lanao del Sur province. Bangsamoro Transition Authority and EU 15 Nov announced five-year 1.5bn pesos Support to Bangsamoro Transition Programme aimed at strengthening governance capacity of executive, legislative and judicial bodies and civil society to ensure peaceful transition. Independent Decommissioning Body 8 Nov restarted decommissioning process for Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants, with more than 1,000 processed throughout month. Clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army persisted: violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north killed at least 11 combatants and civilians and injured four. Surrenders took place throughout month; notably 19 communist militants 23 Nov surrendered in Talaingod municipality, Davao del Norte province and 186 NPA supporters were set to surrender on 26 Nov in Carigara municipality, Leyte province. Head of Task Force Bangon Marawi Eduardo del Rosario 9 Nov gave assurances that reconstruction would be completed before President Duterte’s term ends in June 2022. Meanwhile, amid candidacy deadlines for 2022 presidential and vice-presidential elections, Christopher “Bong” Go, close aide to President Duterte, 13 Nov withdrew bid for vice-presidency and filed candidacy for presidency, which he withdrew 30 Nov. Duterte 15 Nov filed candidacy to run for Senate seat while his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio next day announced intention to run for vice-presidency on same ticket as Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Manila 17 Nov lodged diplomatic protest with Beijing over maritime incident in South China Sea (see South China Sea).

October 2021

Asia

Philippines

Insecurity persisted in south, while clashes between govt forces and communists killed over dozen. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, insecurity continued throughout Oct. Gunmen 11 Oct ambushed election officer and his daughter in Basilan province, severely wounding both. Security forces throughout Oct found IEDs, notably around Lamitan town. Two families 19 Oct re-ignited clan feud over land in village of Nabundas, Pikit town; Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)-facilitated agreement had quelled feud earlier this year. In Maguindanao province, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) maintained low profile during month; BIFF’s Karialan faction 19 Oct however underscored group’s continued robustness. In Sulu Archipelago, Abu Sayyaf Group militant 12 Oct surrendered to military in Tawi-Tawi province. Military 29 Oct killed BIFF faction leader Salahuddin Hassan in Talayan town, Maguindanao province; group 31 Oct retaliated by attacking military detachment in so-called “SPMS-box”, area around towns of Shariff Aguak, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Mamasapano and Shariff Saydona. Clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army (NPA) persisted: violence in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre, and Luzon Island in north killed at least 19 combatants and civilians during month. Notably, govt claimed forces killed key NPA commander Jorge Madlos in Bukidnon province, Mindanao island, on 30 Oct. Meanwhile, Bangsamoro Transition Authority continued work on priority legislation; President Duterte 28 Oct signed bill to postpone parliamentary poll in region for three years, thereby extending transition until 2025. Representatives from govt and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 16-17 Oct met in planning and review workshop in Davao city to discuss normalisation process; Independent Decommissioning Body 12-14 Oct conducted simulation exercises for next phase of disarmament. In Lanao del Sur’s Marawi city, Duterte 16 Oct committed to “expedite the completion of rehabilitation projects at the soonest time possible” during visit to commemorate four-year anniversary of town’s liberation.

September 2021

Asia

Philippines

Violence persisted at low levels in south, while members of Bangsamoro Transition Authority passed bill to extend transition. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, communal violence remained low, while some clashes between govt and armed groups continued. Notably, three members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) 14 Sept surrendered to military in Datu Unsay municipality, Maguindanao province. Bomb blast 18 Sept killed one and injured eight civilians in Datu Piang town, Maguindanao; authorities attributed attack to BIFF. In Sulu province, four Abu Sayyaf Group members 7 Sept surrendered to military in Talipao town, followed by another two members next day in Ungkaya Pukan town, Basilan province. Police supported by military 17 Sept killed alleged Abu Sayyaf financier in firefight during attempted arrest in Luuk town, Sulu province. House of Representatives’ Strategic Intelligence Committee Chairperson Johnny Pimentel 5 Sept announced deployment of additional 4,500 troops to Jolo municipality, Sulu province, to combat armed groups. Bangsamoro Transition Authority Senate 6 Sept and House of Representatives 15 Sept each passed bills extending transition period; both houses 21 Sept convened bicameral conference to reconcile both legislations, with bill submitted to President Duterte for signature on 27 Sept. Security forces continued to clash with communist New People’s Army at similarly lethal levels as Aug in Mindanao island in south, Visayas islands in centre, and Luzon island in north, killing at least 22 and injuring four during month. President Duterte 8 Sept accepted ruling party PDP–Laban’s nomination to run for vice presidency in May 2022 election; Senator Manny Pacquiao 19 Sept accepted nomination from supporters within PDP-Laban to run for presidency and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso 22 Sept also declared candidacy for Aksyon Demokratiko party. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases 11 Sept reached all-time daily high of 26,303.

August 2021

Asia

Philippines

Low-level violence persisted in south, while clashes between govt forces and communists killed at least two dozen. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, violence between govt and armed groups persisted, while smaller elements of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group surrendered to govt. IED allegedly planted by BIFF militants 6 Aug killed one soldier and injured seven soldiers in Datu Hoffer municipality, Maguindanao. Ten BIFF militants 13 Aug surrendered to military in Shariff Aguak town, Maguindanao. Campaign against Abu Sayyaf Group continued; notably, nine militants 11 Aug surrendered to military in Indanan town and further four 14 Aug surrendered in Talipao town. Meanwhile, fighting between govt security forces and communist New People’s Army continued at relatively higher levels than July in Visayas islands in centre, Mindanao island in south and Luzon island in north, killing at least 24 and injuring eight during month. Notably, military 16 Aug confirmed deaths of 16 communist fighters during raid on suspected hideout in Dolores municipality, Eastern Samar province. Leaders of ruling party PDP-Laban 6 Aug endorsed President Duterte as VP candidate in 2022 elections, ahead of conclusion of presidential term in 2022; Duterte 24 Aug confirmed he would run for vice presidency. False information on lockdown restriction 6 Aug circulated online, prompting scuffles amid vaccination rush in capital Manila and cities of Las Pinas and Antipolo. COVID-19 daily cases 20 Aug reached over 17,000, highest peak since pandemic began.

July 2021

Asia

Philippines

Clashes in south between militant groups and security forces continued, while fighting between govt and communist militants left dozens killed. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, clashes between insurgents and security forces took place at relatively low levels throughout month. Military 17 July clashed with elements of Daulah Islamiya-inspired armed group under Salahuddin Hassan in village of Nabundas, in Maguindanao province, killing one militant; three Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters combatants 5 July surrendered to govt in Lanao del Sur province. Military operations against elements of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) continued; clashes between ASG members and military 10 July killed one militant on Basilanisland. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army (NPA) continued at relatively higher levels than June: violence in Luzon Island in north, Visayas Islands in centre and Mindanao Island in south killed at least 12 combatants and civilians and injured three throughout month. Govt 19 July declared National Democratic Front, umbrella of leftist organisations, as terrorist organisation, while Secretary of Defence Delfin Lorenzana 1 July confirmed that main spokesperson of counter-insurgency task force against communist rebels General Antonio Parlade resigned. Regarding ongoing govt efforts to rehabilitate Marawi city, Task Force Bangon Marawi Chairman Del Rosario 27 July urged member agencies to speed up work. Lorenzana 30 July announced in joint news conference with visiting U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin in capital Manila that President Duterte retracted 2020 termination of Visiting Forces Agreement, and confirmed that two nations could continue military exercises.

June 2021

Asia

Philippines

Low-level violence continued in south between militant groups and security forces. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao in south, clashes between insurgents and security forces took place at relatively low levels throughout month. Clashes between govt security forces and suspected elements of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) 20 June killed three militants in Linantangan village, Maguindanao province. Military operations against elements of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) continued. Clashes between Abu Sayyaf members and military 6 June killed one militant on Basilan island; military 13 June clashed with remnants of Sawadjaan-linked ASG network, killing three, including brother of current ASG leader Mundi Sawadjaan. Clash 23 June left ASG militant dead in Patikul village in Sulu province. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army continued at similar levels as May: violence in Luzon in north, Visayas in centre, and Mindanao in south left at least ten combatants and civilians dead and three injured throughout month.

May 2021

Asia

Philippines

Low-level violence persisted in south between militant groups and security forces, while military clashed with communist rebels in centre, south and north. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, low-level violence between insurgents and security forces continued throughout May, while communal violence and clan conflict reduced. In Maguindanao, suspected combatants of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) 9 May fought with military near town market of Datu Paglas; elements of BIFF 12 and 16 May clashed again with military. In town of Piagapo, in Lanao del Sur province, Islamic State (ISIS)-linked rebels 6 May clashed with armed forces, killing one rebel and injuring three. In Sulu province, clashes between elements of ISIS-linked Abu Sayyaf Group and army 14 May killed three rebels and injured one soldier. Bangsamoro Transition Authority continued parliamentary sessions and 19 May passed Education Code, third element of priority legislation. Clashes between communist New People’s Army and armed forces throughout May continued at relatively lower levels than April in Visayas Islands in centre, Mindanao Island in south and Luzon Island in north, killing at least 12 combatants and civilians; clashes mainly resulted from security forces’ operations or rebel ambushes. In south, implementation of peace agreement with Moro Islamic Liberation Front remained delayed as main focus was on fighting COVID-19; govt 19 May launched Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund.

April 2021

Asia

Philippines

Low-level violence continued in south between militant groups and security forces. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, clashes between insurgents and security forces took place at relatively low levels throughout month. In Cotabato City, explosion 1 April injured two civilians while six Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters combatants 17 April surrendered to govt; in Marawi in Lanao del Sur province, security forces 12 April exchanged fire with leader of jihadist organisation Daulah Islamiyah; in town of Datu Salibo in Maguindanao province, joint police and military operation 14 April resulted in killing of leader of crime group; in Tipo-Tipo municipality on Basilan island, IED 12 April injured two persons; in Patikul town in Sulu province, clash 22 April killed three militants, including Egyptian foreign fighter. Smaller cohorts of Islamic State (ISIS)-linked Abu Sayyaf Group 10 April surrendered to govt in Sulu province. Meanwhile, clashes between communist New People’s Army and armed forces continued in Luzon in north, Visayas in centre and Mindanao in south, although at lower level of violence compared to March. At least 20 combatants and civilians killed throughout month. Internationally, the dispute between Manila and Beijing over Chinese military incursion at disputed Whitsun Reef continued (see South China Sea).

March 2021

Asia

Philippines

Violence persisted in south between militant groups and security forces, prompting tens of thousands to flee in Maguindanao. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, low-level violence between insurgents and security forces continued. In Maguindanao, suspected elements of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) 3 and 17-19 March repeatedly attacked military outposts, leaving four militants dead and three soldiers injured, and displacing 70,000 civilians; military 18 March retaliated with ground offensive, including mortar shelling, that reportedly killed 20 combatants and displaced 60,000 locals from ten towns; five BIFF combatants 17 March surrendered. Govt security forces 6 March clashed with elements of Daulah Islamiyah in Madalum, Lanao del Sur, in five-hour-long gunfire exchange. Smaller cohorts of Islamic State (ISIS)-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) 14, 16 March continued to surrender to govt, especially in Sulu province; govt forces 19 March rescued three Indonesian hostages held by ASG elements in Tawi-Tawi province. Military 20 March killed key ASG commander Majan Sahidjuan, aka “Apo Mike”. Clashes between communist New People’s Army and armed forces throughout March continued in Visayas islands in centre, Mindanao island in south and Luzon island in north, leaving at least 13 dead and six injured. In south, implementation of peace agreement with Moro Islamic Liberation Front remained stalled.

February 2021

Asia

Philippines

Low-level violence persisted in south between militant groups and security forces. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, clashes between insurgents and security forces took place at relatively low levels throughout month: police 5 Feb led operation against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) elements in Rajah Buayan municipality; police 9 Feb targeted suspected Dawlah Islamiya elements in South Cotabato, killing one militant; military operations continued in South Upi municipality, as military 12 Feb seized BIFF camp in Pilar village; govt forces 13 Feb overran camp of Islamic State (ISIS)-linked militants in Madamba municipality. Military operations against elements of ISIS-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) continued early Feb in Zamboanga city; smaller cohorts of ASG members 7 and 18 Feb surrendered to govt, notably in Basilan province in Sulu archipelago. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army (NPA) continued in Luzon in north, Visayas in centre and Mindanao in south, with at least 13 combatant and civilian casualties throughout Feb. In south, implementation of peace agreement with Moro Islamic Liberation Front remained stalled.

January 2021

Asia

Philippines

Clashes in south between militant groups and security forces continued. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, clashes between insurgents and security forces continued at relatively lower levels than Dec. Suspected elements of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters late Dec and early Jan attacked indigenous people in land dispute in municipality of South Upi, ambushing town’s mayor who emerged unharmed; unidentified armed men 8 Jan ambushed town councillor who survived attack; unidentified armed men 14 Jan shot and killed  three soldiers and civilian in Poona-Piagapo municipality, Lanao del Norte province. Military operations against elements of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group continued, including operation 11 Jan aimed at recovery of firearms and prevention of kidnapping in waters of Indanan, Sulu province; meanwhile, smaller cohorts of Abu Sayyaf members surrendered to govt late Dec and throughout month. In south, implementation of peace agreement with Moro Islamic Liberation Front remained delayed due to COVID-19; average of new daily cases across country rose slightly to 1,950-2,200 compared to last month. Clashes between communist New People’s Army and armed forces continued throughout month in Visayas islands in centre, Mindanao island in south and Luzon island in north, killing at least eight combatants and civilians, and injuring three.

December 2020

Asia

Philippines

Security forces clashed with militant groups in south as well as with communist rebels across country. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in south, administration of Cotabato City 15 Dec was officially turned over to BARMM in accordance with Jan 2019 referendum. Clan violence continued at relatively lower levels than previous month, while clashes between insurgents and security forces remained at similar levels. In Maguindanao province, hostilities resumed between members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and military; elements of BIFF under Kagi Karialan 3 Dec attacked police station and fired shots toward military detachment in Datu Piang town; members of BIFF 9 Dec attacked military detachment in Shariff Aguak town and 13 Dec clashed with military in Northern Kabuntalan municipality; mortar shelling 15 Dec killed one civilian and injured six others in Datu Salibo and parts of Datu Unsay municipalities. In south, implementation of peace agreement with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) remained delayed as main focus was on fighting COVID-19; total cases countrywide rose to over 467,000, with average of 1,000-2,000 new cases daily throughout month. Following military operations against elements of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) last month, small clashes between soldiers and ASG militants continued in Zamboanga del Norte and Sulu provinces; military 2 Dec clashed with suspected militants in Sibuco municipality; clashes 17 Dec injured at least five soldiers in Patikul municipality; police raid same day killed one militant in Ipil municipality. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army (NPA) continued in Luzon in north, Visayas in centre and Mindanao in south with at least 27 combatants and civilians killed and three injured throughout month. On island of Negros, unknown gunmen on motorcycles 15 Dec shot and killed a female doctor and her husband who led community’s response to COVID-19 after they were linked to communist rebels.

November 2020

Asia

Philippines

Clashes in south between militant groups and security forces continued and low-intensity fighting involving communist rebels persisted. In Maguindanao province in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), clan violence and clashes between insurgents and security forces continued at relatively lower levels than Oct. Clan firefight 20 Nov killed two people in Mohammad Ajul, Basilan province. Meanwhile, several elements of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) surrendered in Basilan and Tawi-Tawi provinces late Oct-early Nov; military 3 Nov intercepted seven ASG members on coast of Parang, Sulu archipelago, killing them in subsequent clashes on seas; security forces 20 Nov clashed with ASG elements in Panamao and Kalingalan Caluang provinces. Implementation of Bangsamoro peace process continued as govt 17 Nov deployed first batch of Joint Peace and Security Team to support decommissioning and disarmament process of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants. Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) also continued parliamentary sessions and 1 Nov passed Administrative Code, which defines governing rules and principles of BARMM governance. Govt efforts to rehabilitate Marawi city remained delayed as govt, BTA and Lanao del Sur continued to fight spread of COVID-19 in region; Task Force Bangon Marawi chair Del Rosario 19 Nov confirmed rehabilitation still on track with third of rehabilitation already completed. Clashes between communist New People’s Army and armed forces continued throughout month in Visayas islands in centre, Mindanao island in south and Luzon island in north, killing at least ten combatants and civilians, and injuring two.

October 2020

Asia

Philippines

Clan feuds and clashes between militant groups and security forces continued in south. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, clan feuds continued: clash between warring clans 10 Oct killed four and injured four in Pikit municipality in Cotabato province; firefight 13 Oct broke out between commanders of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 105th and 118th Base Commands in Mamasapano municipality; two warring MILF commanders of 105th and 118th Base Command 18 Oct engaged in firefight in Shariff Aguak municipality, killing one combatant. Small-scale clashes between soldiers and elements of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) continued in Sulu archipelago: authorities 10 Oct arrested individual involved in Jolo blast in Aug, along with two other female ASG members; authorities 11 Oct arrested ASG senior leader in Zamboanga City; clash between security forces and ASG members 18 Oct killed two ASG members in firefight in Isabela municipality. Ceasefire between govt and MILF remained stable but progress on peace agreement implementation remained delayed as govt and interim govt focused on preventing spread of COVID-19; total cases countrywide continued to rise to over 360,000, with average of 2,000-3,000 new cases daily throughout month. Bangsamoro Transition Authority resumed parliamentary sessions late Oct. Regarding ongoing govt efforts to rehabilitate Marawi city, Task Force Bangon Marawi chairman Del Rosario 23 Oct confirmed rehabilitation was on track and would be completed by Dec 2021 deadline. Clashes between communist New People’s Army and armed forces continued in Luzon island in north, Visayas islands in centre and Mindanao island in south at relatively lower levels than last month, killing at least 10 combatants and civilians and injuring 16 throughout month.

September 2020

Asia

Philippines

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.

August 2020

Asia

Philippines

In south, clashes persisted but at reduced level of violence, while authorities’ focus on COVID-19 continued to delay implementation of peace agreement. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in south, clan feuds continued: clash between warring clans involving Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members 3 Aug displaced around hundred villagers at boundary of Datu Montawal and Pagalungan; armed groups from Moro side and indigenous Teduray natives 15 Aug conducted peace dialogue, defusing tensions over land in South Upi municipality; peace dialogue 18 Aug pacified warring commanders of 105th MILF base command in Shariff Aguak municipality; community feud involving MILF members 19 Aug erupted in Kalingalan and Nabalawag municipalities in Midsayap, and then pacified following intervention of BARMM Special Geographic Area caretaker and members of ceasefire committee. Govt drug enforcement raid 16 Aug killed village councillor of Northern Kabuntalan. Clashes continued between security forces and elements of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu province. Twin bombings in Jolo 24 Aug killed 15 and injured 74; perpetrators alleged to be Indonesian suicide bombers affiliated with Hatib Sawadjaan’s Islamic State-linked faction. Also in south, implementation of ceasefire between govt and MILF remained delayed as govt and interim govt concentrated efforts on preventing spread of COVID-19; countrywide cases continued to rise to over 217,000, with average of 5,500 new cases daily throughout month - double the daily average in July. Govt’s focus on halting contagion also continued to hinder efforts to rehabilitate Marawi city. Suspected Ansara Khilafa Philippines insurgents 9 Aug clashed with police operatives in Polomolok town, in South Cotabato, killing four insurgents and injuring one. Clashes continued throughout month between communist New People’s Army and armed forces in Visayas in centre, Mindanao in south, and Luzon in north at relatively decreased levels in comparison with July, killing at least 15 combatants and civilians and injuring 13 in total throughout month.

July 2020

Asia

Philippines

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.

June 2020

Asia

Philippines

Low-intensity fighting between security forces and communist rebels continued, while violence persisted in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in south. Clashes between communist New People’s Army (NPA) and armed forces in Luzon in north, Visayas in centre and Mindanao in south continued, although at lower level of violence compared to April-May due to weakening of some NPA front units; at least 18 combatants and civilians killed throughout month. In BARMM, clan feuds continued in Pikit and Pagalungan municipalities, often involving Moro Islamic Liberation Front commanders, leaving several houses destroyed and hundreds displaced. In South Upi municipality, Maguindanao province, IED 22 June exploded targeting the town’s mayor who was unharmed. Clashes between soldiers and elements of Islamic State (ISIS)-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) 7-13 June continued in multiple provinces: four soldiers and two ASG militants killed and 17 injured in Pakitul, in Sulu province 5 June; one ASG militant killed during operations against drug syndicates in Bongao municipality in Tawi-Tawi province 7 June; two policemen killed and two injured after armed men attacked Parang police station in Sulu province 13 June. In Maguindanao province, members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters 9 June killed one soldier in Sultan Kudarat town. Despite delay in formal aspects of peace process due to COVID-19 outbreak, Bangsamoro Transition Authority 16 June resumed parliamentary sessions after temporary COVID-19 suspension. House of Representatives and Senate 8 June agreed on controversial “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020” to be signed by President Duterte into law; human rights groups and other critics highlighted concern that police and military could resort to extended detention and more unchecked arrests. Authorities 15 June indicted social news network Rappler.com CEO Maria Ressa for cyber-libel; journalists, NGOs and UN Special Rapporteur on Free Speech David Kaye condemned verdict as attack on freedom of press. FM Teodoro Locsin Jr. 2 June announced govt suspended 11 Feb notice to terminate Visiting Forces Agreement with U.S., citing “political and other developments in the region.”

May 2020

Asia

Philippines

Despite ongoing COVID-19 concerns, fighting between security forces and communist rebels resumed; meanwhile, violence in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) persisted in south. After ceasefire between govt and New People’s Army (NPA) fell apart late April, counter-insurgency operations and rebel ambushes on military presence resurfaced in Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon, leaving at least 30 combatants and civilians dead; at least 26 communist rebels 13-19 May killed in clashes in Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Norte following military offensives. In south, implementation of peace agreement with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) progressed slowly as main focus was on fighting COVID-19. At local level, clashes between clans reignited in Pikit municipality (part of BARMM) and in Matalam municipality (Cotabato province), leaving several houses burned and displacing hundreds. Clashes between soldiers and elements of Islamic State (ISIS)-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) continued, leaving 3 May two ASG dead in Tandubas, Tawi-Tawi province, and 16 May three militants dead in Patikul, Sulu province. In Maguindanao province, members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) 3 May killed two soldiers in Datu Hoffer town; clash between BIFF and military 18-19 May also left one soldier and two militants dead in Datu Saudi-Ampatuan. Nationwide, National Telecommunications Commission 5 May ordered largest Philippine broadcaster ABS-CBN to halt operations after govt 4 May refused to renew 25-year legislative franchise upon expiration; govt critics condemned decision, calling it illegal and “clampdown of the freedom of the press”; govt’s imposed COVID-19 lockdown in COVID-affected areas extended until 31 May.

April 2020

Asia

Philippines

Despite March ceasefire declaration between govt and communist insurgency, counter-insurgency operations against communist rebels continued in Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon; meanwhile, clashes between Islamic State (ISIS)-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants and military persisted in south. Following end of agreed ceasefire, govt security forces 16 April announced continuation of combat operations against communist rebels, while NPA extended ceasefire until 30 April to “prioritize the fight against the pandemic”; govt 17 April accused rebels of 17 ceasefire violations, and NPA 13 April accused military of at least 13. President Duterte 27 April cancelled peace talks with communist rebels; 24 April threatened to impose martial law if rebels disrupt channelling of aid. In Maguindanao province, clashes between clans continued, including in Pagalungan, Talitay and Datu Saudi-Ampatuan municipalities, leaving six civilians injured and 200 families displaced. Clash between ASG militants and military 17 April left 11 soldiers dead and 14 wounded in Sulu province; six ASG members 23 April killed in clash with military in Patikul town in Sulu, eight soldiers wounded. By 28 April, five Indonesian hostages still with ASG.

March 2020

Asia

Philippines

Amid COVID-19 outbreak, ceasefire was declared between army and communist rebels, while violence continued in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). President Duterte 18 March declared unilateral ceasefire with communist insurgency 19 March-15 April, ending all offensive operations; founding chairman of Communist Party of the Philippines, Jose Maria Sison, 23 March recommended to all communist rebels to declare unilateral truce in direct response to UN’s call for global ceasefire to address COVID-19 epidemic; New People’s Army rebels 24 March declared they would observe ceasefire until 15 April. Several clashes took place early March between govt and communist insurgents in Luzon killing three rebels and injuring one soldier; ambush on Negros Island injured four soldiers. Congress 24 March granted country-wide emergency powers to Duterte to fight COVID-19 spread. In the South, clashes 2-6 March between Dawlah Islamiyah Torayfie Group (DITG) of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and military left at least 14 BIFF members killed and four soldiers dead in Maguindanao province. Feud between warring commanders of Moro Islamic Liberation Front 14 March re-erupted in Datu Saudi-Ampatuan village, Maguindanao. Unknown gunmen 16 March killed Maguindanao town councillor. Following 4 March meeting on “state of return for residents of Marawi city” between Senate’s Special Committee on Marawi City Rehabilitation and President Duterte, latter ordered the Budget Department to hasten the release of funds and called for establishment of a second military camp in Marawi, also vowed to visit Marawi regularly and monitor progress; while decision to have new military camp not yet final, resumption of idea could trigger tensions among local population.

February 2020

Asia

Philippines

Violence between Islamic State militants and military continued while clashes involving communist rebels occurred in the north and south. In the south, gunshot 7 Feb wounded one military personnel in suspected attack of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao province; Abu Sayyaf militants 11 Feb kidnapped a doctor allegedly to treat a sick leader in Sulu province; suspected bomb expert working for BIFF killed following 12 Feb clash with security forces in Pikit village, North Cotabato province; two BIFF members 21 Feb killed in firefight with military in Maguindanao province; two suspected Abu Sayyaf militants 23 Feb killed by military in Patikul, in Sulu province. Amidst stagnant peace talks with communist rebels, several clashes between military and communist insurgents took place in Luzon and Mindanao throughout month: seven New People’s Army (NPA) suspected rebels 14 Feb killed in clashes with military in Isabela and Ilocos Sur provinces; exchange of fire between local police officers and communist rebels same day in San Narciso, in Quezon province, left two police wounded. Decommissioning process of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members continued with 10,000 combatants successfully decommissioned and more than 1,500 out of 2,000 firearms turned over between late Sept 2019 and Feb 2020. Govt 24 Feb arrested 38 alleged MILF members in possession of weapons in Talakag city, Bukidnon province in Northern Mindanao; most have now been released. Cotabato City Mayor Guiani-Sayadi 7 Feb submitted position paper to President Duterte requesting that Cotabato City be excluded from Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) until end of transition period on 30 June 2022, initial government position stipulated turnover of city will occur in Dec 2020. President Duterte 11 Feb announced termination of 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which provides for procedures over treatment of U.S. forces inside country.

January 2020

Asia

Philippines

Violence continued in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), while less clashes were reported between army and communist rebels throughout country. During operation in Indanan, BARMM’s Sulu province 15 Jan, military rescued last of three Indonesian fishermen taken hostage by suspected Islamic State (ISIS)-affiliated Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants in Sept 2019. Suspected ASG militants also abducted eight Indonesian fishermen 16 Jan in Sabah, Malaysia, later releasing three; incident prompted clashes between suspected ASG militants and military 17-19 Jan in Parang town, Sulu province, which left one suspected militant dead, and in Tawi Tawi province, which killed four suspected militants allegedly affiliated with ASG or criminal group. Low-level political violence ongoing in BARMM, including killing of state official by unidentified assailants 11 Jan and of village chief 28 Jan, both in Cotabato City. Communal tensions persisted; notably, two rivalling Moro National Liberation Front factions clashed 15 Jan in Tabuan-Lasa, BARMM’s Basilan province. De facto truce between govt and communist New People’s Army (NPA) held after holiday ceasefire ended 7 Jan, clashes however took place in Camarines Norte province (Luzon island, north), North Cotabato and Surigao del Norte and Sultan Kudarat provinces (Mindanao island, south). Arrests and surrenders of NPA rebels continued across country: police arrested three suspected NPA rebels in Butuan city (northern Mindanao island) 11 Jan, and NPA rebels surrendered in Quezon province (Luzon island) 15 Jan. As part of first-ever Chinese Coast Guard’s port call in capital Manila, coast guards from China and Philippines 15 Jan conducted joint military exercises on “search and rescue and combating fire at sea”.

December 2019

Asia

Philippines

Fighting between armed forces and Islamist groups Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Dawlah Islamiyah Torayfie Group (DITG) continued in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in south, while communist rebels clashed with armed forces in several regions. Military early Dec clashed with BIFF and DITG militants in Maguindanao province, notably Shariff Aguak and Shariff Saydona Mustapha municipalities; army mid-Dec said troops had seized almost a dozen BIFF camps in area; suspected Islamist militants 22 Dec launched simultaneous bomb attacks against security forces and civilians in Upi town in Maguindanao province, Cotabato city, and Libungan town in neighbouring Cotabato province, wounding at least 22 including eight soldiers. Implementation of Bangsamoro peace process continued with working groups inside Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) focusing on drafting priority legislation, such as election code or local govt code. BTA’s Intergovernmental-Relations body, expected to settle disputes between national and Bangsamoro govts, held first meeting 16 Dec to discuss its terms of reference. As part of peace process implementation, decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants continued, with up to 9,000 members laying down arms since late Sept. Martial law in Mindanao, implemented since 2017, expired 31 Dec but state of emergency remained in place. Court in capital Manila 19 Dec sentenced five to life in prison for planning murder of 58 people including members of rival clan and journalists in Maguindanao in 2009. Clashes between communist New People’s Army (NPA) members and armed forces continued early Dec notably in Luzon in north, Visayas in centre and Mindanao in south. Labour secretary and former chairman of govt panel for negotiations with communists, Silvestre Bello III, and founder of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Jose Maria Sison talked about potential opening to resume peace talks in Europe 7-8 Dec. Govt and CPP 22 Dec declared holiday ceasefire 23 Dec-7 Jan.

November 2019

Asia

Philippines

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).

October 2019

Asia

Philippines

Clashes continued between armed forces and militants, including Islamic State (ISIS)-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Abu Sayyaf group in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in south, and communist rebels in several regions. In BARMM’s Maguindanao province, encounter between govt-aligned Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and BIFF faction under Abu Toraify reportedly killed seven MILF and four BIFF in Shariff Saidona town 4 Oct. Armed forces 6 Oct killed suspected BIFF member believed to be involved in 4 Oct clash at checkpoint in Pandag, Maguindanao. Armed forces and MILF 19 Oct launched operation to dislodge Toraify Group from Maguindanao-North Cotabato border; following operation, roadside bombing 24 Oct injured seven MILF members; ISIS claimed attack, announced three deaths. In BARMM’s Sulu province, armed forces killed suspected member of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and captured another after intense firefight 6 Oct in Sitio Kan Pataw, Talipao municipality. MILF reportedly continued to talk to two BIFF factions (under Kagi Karialan and Commander Bungos) but groups apparently remain unwilling to return to MILF or disband. Security on periphery of BARMM remained volatile; British national and his wife were kidnapped in Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur province 4 Oct; ransom demand raised later in month, although no group claimed responsibility. Implementation of Bangsamoro peace process continued with meeting of peace implementing panels involving govt and MILF in Davao 19-20 Oct, while President Duterte mid-Oct named govt delegates to Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA)’s Intergovernmental-Relations body, expected to settle disputes between national and Bangsamoro govts; MILF appointed members months earlier. Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) reported it had decommissioned over 2,000 MILF combatants since early Sept. Clashes between govt and communist New People’s Army (NPA) occurred in several areas, including Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Quezon (centre), Sarangani (south), Isabela (north), and Las Navas, Samar island, as govt continued counter-insurgency efforts despite local peace dialogues; several NPA and govt forces reported killed.

September 2019