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.
Village elections in the southern Philippines tend to be hard-fought and violent. Crisis Group expert Georgi Engelbrecht travelled there to understand what the most recent showdowns mean for regional polls scheduled for 2025 and for the peace process in an area historically racked by conflict.
Clan violence, rebel infighting and security operations continued in south, while security forces battled Communist insurgents.
Insecurity persisted in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). During reconciliation ceremony between members of Sinsuat clan in Cotabato city, shootout 3 Jan erupted between escorts of two prominent clan politicians. Bangsamoro regional police 15 Jan deployed personnel of elite Special Action Force in three towns in Lanao del Sur province and its provincial capital Marawi city to help local officials guard against clan wars and protect constituents from local terrorists. In Maguindanao del Sur province, armed men associated with Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) 105 and 106 Base Command 19 Jan clashed in Kulambog village, motivated by political rivalry. Security forces 26 Jan launched operations against jihadist group Daulah Islamiya in Lanao del Sur, killing nine militants – including two alleged suspects linked to deadly bombing in Marawi in Dec – and leaving four soldiers wounded.
Clashes persisted between Communist rebels and military. Clashes between govt forces and Communists in Luzon Island (Sorsogon) in north, Mindanao Island (Agusan del Norte) in south and Visayas Islands (Negros and Samar) in centre killed at least nine 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.
In this video Miriam Coronel-Ferrer reflects on the gains made and challenges that remain for the Bangsamoro region ten years after the 2014 peace agreement.
As 2025 elections draw near in the Philippines’ newly autonomous Muslim-majority region, threats to the peace process have emerged. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2024, Crisis Group outlines what the EU can do to preserve its gains.
Despite its increasing focus on external threats, the Philippine government can’t afford to take the Bangsamoro peace process for granted.
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.
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.
Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.