After decades of insurgency, the Philippine government is making efforts to bring stability to the Bangsamoro, a majority-Muslim area in the country's south. In 2019, Manila granted the region self-rule, an important step on the road to peace, but the new autonomous entity faces challenges in managing the transition until parliamentary elections in 2025. Clashes still break out sporadically. Meanwhile, Manila's disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea continue, amid rising U.S.-Chinese strategic competition. Through field research and advocacy, Crisis Group works to support the Bangsamoro peace process and reduce maritime tensions in the Asia Pacific.
The newly autonomous area in the southern Philippines is progressing toward full self-rule, but delays in the associated peace process and renewed skirmishes are causing concern. With donor support, regional and national authorities should work to bolster the transition in advance of crucial 2025 elections.
South witnessed ongoing political and criminal violence, while security forces battled Communist insurgents.
Insecurity persisted in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. In Maguindanao del Sur, two unidentified motorcycle-borne gunmen 10 Oct ambushed and killed Saudi national. Police 12 Oct foiled attempt by suspected illegal gun dealer to transport eight M16 assault rifles from Datu Piang, Maguindanao del Sur, to Sultan Kudarat province. Incidents related to village elections also surfaced: notably, authorities 13 Oct arrested mayor of Datu Salibo town in Maguindanao del Sur, Solaiman Sandigan, with four others over their alleged links to killing of two barangay officials. Military 17 Oct clashed with suspected Daulah Islamiyah armed group in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao del Sur, injuring two soldiers and four militants.
Hostilities persisted between security forces and Communist militants. Fighting between govt security forces and Communist rebels of New People’s Army (NPA), in Luzon Island (Abra province) in north, Mindanao Island (Sultan Kudarat province) in south, and Visayas Islands (negros and Panay islands) in centre, killed at least eight combatants and civilians.
Time has passed since the time of Martial Law, and if you look at the demographics, it is mostly older Filipinos who remember and are opposed to BBM.
Despite its increasing focus on external threats, the Philippine government can’t afford to take the Bangsamoro peace process for granted.
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.
After months of campaigning, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., son of the notorious ex-dictator, will take presidential office in the Philippines at the end of June. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Georgi Engelbrecht explains the vote’s implications for the country’s internal security and foreign policy.
The transition to self-rule in the Bangsamoro, the majority-Muslim region in the southern Philippines, is proceeding apace. Militants outside the associated peace process are losing strength but could recover. Regional and national authorities should do all in their power to keep that from happening.
The peace process in the Bangsamoro, the newly autonomous region in the southern Philippines, is making progress. But several groups, including minorities and women, could be better represented. Donors should join hands with interim authorities to ensure that self-rule delivers for all the area’s residents.
The maritime dispute between China and the Philippines is simmering against the backdrop of strategic competition between Beijing and Washington. To keep tensions below boiling point, Manila should push for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as well as greater regional cooperation.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh are joined by Crisis Group’s Philippines expert, Georgi Engelbrecht, to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte’s legacy.
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