The decades-old conflict in Mindanao, southern Philippines, is often framed as a Muslim–
Christian conflict and reinterpreted as such within the US-led global war on terror, with the
Muslim secessionist movement standing accused of providing a hub for international jihad.
In the meantime, global economic integration has made it easier to ignore the agrarian roots
of violent conflict in Mindanao, enabling national and sub-national actors, including the
international community and the Muslim or Moro separatists, to dismiss the issue of
agrarian justice. We counter these arguments by using an agrarian political economy
framework to uncover the roots of resilient violence in Mindanao, using historical narratives
of the region from the end of the nineteenth century that accentuate the links between
state-making, control of land and labour, and processes of agrarian modernization. We
emphasize the critical role played by the Muslim landed elites who shaped processes of
state-making by brokering the interests of their clans with exogenous actors at the national
and international level.We shed light on emerging state policies and competing interests
among other landed and agribusiness elites that resulted in the spread of a parallel
underground economy, renewing opportunities for violence and crime within semiautonomous
January 12, 2011 Institute for British-Irish Studies // University College Dublin
This paper examines the peace process in Mindanao, Philippines, situating it within broader national and international political economies. The paper argues that the root causes of the conflict can be found in the long-term processes of state formation and capital penetration in the region which have resulted in the displacement and marginalization of the indigenous groups of Mindanao under consecutive Spanish, American, and independent Philippines control. Examining the peace process within this context, it argues that mainstream approaches to peace processes that focus on particular “actors” (e.g. spoilers, third party interventions) and “technologies” (e.g. commitment mechanisms) provide some insights into the failure to achieve a lasting peace in the region, but that a full explanation requires consideration of two further issues. Firstly, formal peace processes are often embedded within wider developmental programmes and the tensions and interactions within this broader dynamic are important to understand. In Mindanao, while the formal peace process has moved towards explicitly addressing root concerns of the local population, the wider “peace through development” package promoted by the international community is, in fact, exacerbating many of the economic tensions behind the conflict. Secondly, in localized conflict such as Mindanao, it is important to examine the peace process within the broader political context of the country in question. In the Philippines, opposition to the peace settlement has, in recent times, been used for political opportunism by opposition forces at the national level. Similarly, for incumbent presidents, a return to militaristic solutions and associated nationalist agenda has been used as a way to shore up popular support in the rest of the country, undermining moves towards peace....
January 7, 2011 Journal on Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and Prevention of Torture
desk study on “The use of medical evidence
and expert opinions in international and
regional judicial mechanism and in selected
domestic jurisdictions” aims to provide an
insight into how medical evidence is viewed
and evaluated in court proceedings on alleged
torture cases today. The study looks
into the procedural rules as well as the
practice relating to evaluation of medical
evidence and expert opinions by the relevant
tribunals. The special issue further features
studies on investigations and evidence collection
in selected domestic jurisdictions
in torture cases. These studies have been
conducted in five countries from different
regions and with differing legal systems –
Ecuador, Georgia, Lebanon, The Philippines
and Uganda. In these countries the IRCT
has, for a number of years, worked with
local members and partners to promote the
value and use of medical documentation of
Our hope is that the study may serve
as a reference document for those involved
in legal cases seeking to prove allegations
of torture through the submission of medical
evidence or wishing to advocate legal
changes in this area....
November 5, 2010 German Institute of Global and Area Studies // GIGA Institute of Asian Studies
The case of the Philippines provides an interesting example of how post-colonial governments in Southeast Asia are trying to govern multi-ethnic nations. The Philippines, despite being the country in Asia with the most vibrant civil society, is still dealing with a war on the southern island of Mindanao – a war fuelled by, rather than abated by, national dynamics of identity-construction and social practices of democracy. This paper looks into these protracted national dynamics and their influence on the conflict in Mindanao. It further contrasts those with local, predominantly civil-society-based, approaches of identity re-construction and decision-making that have changed the situation for many communities on the ground, but that haven’t so far had much impact on the national setting. Therefore, the final part of the paper assesses the impact of local civil-society initiatives and draws conclusions on how those could provide blue¬prints for national solutions and complement high-level peace talks....
August 24, 2010 Global Consortium on Security Transformation
This paper is interested in explaining the persistence and steady expansion of the sphere of
military autonomy in spite of democratization and how it aects security sector transformation
(SST). It argues that SST processes will be constrained, limited, and even undermined so long
as the military enjoys signicant degrees of political autonomy in three ways. First, a relatively
autonomous military will likely dene and dominate the framework of SST in a given country.
This implies that programs that will reform the military will likely not produce the intended
results of democratic civilian control. Second, any gains or positive outcomes generated by transforming the security sector will likely be jeopardized by the military since they have the power
to stifle or undermine these reforms. Finally, military autonomy in certain areas such as human
rights and security policy hinders the participation of other actors, notably civil society in being
able to influence and contribute to SST initiatives. Using the case of the Philippines, this study
seeks to examine these three causal mechanisms that link military autonomy with the space
or opportunities for governments to implement programs and policies that could transform the
March 31, 2010 Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue // Institute of Bangsamoro Studies
This review contains description from a non-exhaustive selection of material relevant
to militias in Mindanao. It aims to provide the reader with a broad overview of key
points and is not intended to be a strict academic literature review.
September 7, 2010 Combating Terrorism Center // West Point
This issue includes the following articles: Building a Strategic U.S.-Pakistan Nuclear Relationship, by Rolf Mowatt-Larssen; Beyond the Moscow Bombings: Islamic Militancy in the North Caucasus, by Christopher Swift; After Pune, Details Emerge on the Karachi Project and its Threat to India ,by Animesh Roul; Assessing the Recent Terrorist Threat to the Malacca Strait, by Peter Chalk; The Philippines Chips Away at the Abu Sayyaf Group’s Strength, by Zachary Abuza; Al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb: A Case Study in the Opportunism of Global Jihad, by Jean-Pierre Filiu; No Silver Bullets: Explaining Research on How Terrorism Ends, by Audrey Kurth Cronin....
September 7, 2010 Combating Terrorism Center // West Point
This issue includes the following articles: Riyaz Bhatkal and the Origins of the Indian Mujahidin, by Praveen Swami; Salafi-Jihadi Activism in Gaza: Mapping the Threat, by Benedetta Berti; The Virtual Jihad: An Increasingly Legitimate Form of Warfare, by Akil N. Awan; Internet Jihadists React to the Deaths of Al-Qa`ida’s Leaders in Iraq, by Abdul Hameed Bakier; The Kidnapping and Execution of Khalid Khwaja in Pakistan, by Rahimullah Yusufzai; The Sources of the Abu Sayyaf’s Resilience in the Southern Philippines, by Rommel C. Banlaoi....
September 7, 2010 Combating Terrorism Center // West Point
1 The Philippines’ Continued Success Against Extremists By Peter Chalk; 5 The Evolving Role of Uzbek-led Fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan By Jeremy Binnie and Joanna Wright; 7 Tribal Dynamics of the Afghanistan and Pakistan Insurgencies By Hayder Mili and Jacob Townsend; 11 A Review of Reconciliation Efforts in Afghanistan By Joanna Nathan; 14 The Absence of Shi`a Suicide Attacks in Iraq By Babak Rahimi; 17 Factors Affecting Stability in Northern Iraq By Ramzy Mardini; 20 Training for Terror: The "Homegrown" Case of Jami`at al-Islam al-Sahih By Jeffrey B. Cozzens and William Rosenau; 24 Recent Highlights in Terrorist Activity...
December 15, 2004 United States Institute of Peace
The United States Institute of Peace's Muslim World Initiative recently launched a listserv to keep the public appraised of its work. Subscribers receive a monthly electronic newsletter featuring articles, briefings on events, and links to new publications related to the Muslim World. If you would like to be added to the list, please send a message to [email protected].
December 9, 2008 Republic of the Philippines, National Disaster Coordinating Council
This situation report from the Philippines Government about the ongoing crisis in Mindanao covers a wide variety of issues, including, but not limited to: how much humanitarian funding, equipment, & provisions have been provided, and by which international agencies; the total numbers of IDPs resulting from the conflict, and which regions they are from; the total civilian casualties, including names, locations, and causes of death; total damages to property and infrastructure; areas affected; etc....
The Philippines suffers from endemic conflicts on many levels, some arising out of traditional cleavages and others from the complex responses of a society undergoing rapid change. Political instability, intra-community conflicts over natural resources, and the conflicts in Mindanao in particular, continue to undermine efforts to improve the country's economy and governance. The Asia Foundation aims to address conflicts through enhanced conflict resolution mechanisms; improved communication channels within affected communities and between government and community groups; and policy-oriented substantive discussions with inputs from key stakeholders....
Freedom House welcomes the vote by the United Nations General Assembly to elect Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for the two open seats for Eastern European States in yesterday's election to the UN Human Rights Council. Belarus, the third candidate for the East Europe vacancies, was defeated in a tight race following a vigorous campaign by numerous human rights organizations and countries opposed to the candidacy of a country with one of the world's most abysmal human rights records.
Assembly: Philippines has a bicameral Congress (Kongreso) consisting of the Senate (Senado) with 24 seats and the House of Representatives (Kapulungan Ng Mga Kinatawan) with 214 seats. "Voting ended in the Philippines mid-term elections on May 14, after a campaign marred by violence. At least three people were killed on polling day, taking the death toll to more than 110 in the three-month election period. The army was deployed in many areas amid fears that private militias and rebel groups would disrupt voting." (BBC, 14/05/07)...
November 4, 2010 Humanitarian Information Unit // United States Department of State
This document includes a map representing incidents in the Philippines from July 2008 - June 2010, with incidents classified by suspected perpetrators (Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), New People's Army-Communist Party of the Philippines (NPA-CPP), Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), and other groups). It also includes graphs showing the number of incidents by group over time by six-month period (July 2008-June 2010), the relative number of incidents by suspected perpetrator, and the relative number of incidents by type (armed attack, IED, kidnapping, grenade, arson, hostage, bombing). The document also includes a map of the displacement in Mindanao in September 2008 alongside a corresponding map for September 2010, alongside data on the number of registered internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region. Finally, the document closes with a brief factsheet describing the main armed groups and other perpetrators in Mindanao, and a brief chronology of conflict and displacement from July 2008 to June 2010....
Coveted for its hydrocarbon resources and its geographical location on the main international sea routes, the Spratly archipelago is a focus for the ambitions of the southeast Asian countries. By unilaterally asserting its sovereignty over the greater part of the China Sea, in a law adopted in February 1992, China sought to strengthen its great-power credentials and its control of the region. Sources : Virginie and Sonia Raisson, Lépac, Paris.
Despite the deplorable conditions, the evacuees were unable to return to their homes because of the climate of fear that prevails to this day. Although heavily militarized, reports of the continued presence of the Ampatuan clan’s private army still persist.
This was revealed by Kalinaw Mindanao, which held a National Interfaith Mission for Peace and Justice in Maguindanao last January 22 to 26. Kalinaw Mindanao is an alliance organization composed of human-rights groups, lawyers groups and Moro and church-based organizations.
“These evacuees are the hidden victims of human-rights violations caused by the warlordism of the Ampatuans and heavy military presence in the province,” Kalinaw Mindanao spokesperson Bai Ali Indayla said.
The evacuees and police and military officials confirmed to the mission the presence of unidentified armed men roaming in the area. Threats against civilians persisted in the form of house-burning, as was the case last January 12 when eight houses were torched in Sitio Agapok....
The image of a soldier shooting a villager clambering upon the back of an open truck is still fresh in the minds of the Manobos when they left their homes in Barangay Diatagon in Lianga, Surigao del Sur in July this year. Though it happened four years ago, the Lumads have not forgotten Jessie Bacasmas, a farmer shot on May 12, 2005 as they, the Lumads, were about to leave the village upon the arrival of soldiers. Like the Moro in many parts of Mindanao, evacuation has become a way of life for the Lumads. They would rather sleep in schools, at village halls or town gymnasiums than stay in their villages and bear the brunt of military operations. Memories of past abuses have sent them fleeing their villages at the mention of the coming troops. As the 2010 deadline of the Philippine military to end Asia’s longest running communist insurgency nears, the evacuation of Lumads intensifies. “The soldiers suspect that we are feeding the rebels,” Genasque Enriquez, a Manobo from Kilometer 9 Emerald of Barangay Diatagon told a press conference in Davao City.
Enriquez, an officer of the Lumad organization called Malahutayong Pakigbisug Para sa mga Sumusunod (Sustainable Struggle for the Next Generation) or Mapasu, also said soldiers even tagged the alternative school of Lumads based in the village’s Sitio Han-ayan as a “communist front” and demanded from the school director the names of the 124 students.
But it is not just the fear of being tagged as rebels that forced people out of their villages. They also feared being forcibly drafted into the government’s war against the Communist guerillas....
June 29, 2009 Institute for War and Peace Reporting
They were only supposed to provide temporary shelter, yet nine months on, the streets of this impoverished town remain a sea of orange and blue plastic sheeting and tents which protect tens of thousands of war evacuees (bakwits) from the sun and rain - but not from ongoing misery, hunger, disease and trauma.
While their continuing plight was briefly highlighted in a national newspaper earlier last month after an aid convoy was reportedly blockaded here by the military, the evacuees appear to have few if any champions in Manila.
Moreover, despite constituting the world’s largest group of newly internally displaced people, IDPs, last year, according to a report published by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, IDCM, very few people in the international community or media appear to have even noticed.
The report claims that 600,000 of the world’s 4.6 million most recently uprooted people last year were war refugees from Central Mindanao – the numbers surpassing new internal refugees recorded in Sudan, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and more than 45 other countries surveyed.
Some of the tents and sheeting in the children’s park in Datu Piang have admittedly gone – only to be replaced by the sturdier bahay kubo (native huts) – a clear sign the refugees do not expect to be returning home any time soon....
Since President Gloria Arroyo came to power in 2001, campaigners say over 900 people have been extra-judicially executed and 200 more have "disappeared".
A United Nations report in 2007 blamed the army for most of the killings, but no action has been taken and the unexplained murders continue.
A recent escalation in violence on the troubled Philippine island of Mindanao has led Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia to tighten international security across their maritime borders, and threatened to undermine U.S.-led peace efforts.
From Kudat on the northern tip of Malaysian Borneo, south to Sulawesi in Indonesia and eastwards to the strife-torn southern Philippines, authorities have clamped down in response to mounting casualties, after a truce between the Philippine government and separatist Muslim rebels collapsed last year.
Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur were to deploy battalion-force strength to their border areas, while Manila rolled out a plan to renegotiate with rebels, a nod to Washington's concerns over a possible resurgence in radical Islamic militancy in the southern Philippines....
June 16, 2008 Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project
Developed by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) in partnership with national media development and support organizations, the Project platforms and promotes human rights coverage in the Philippine media and aims to root better awareness of and adherence to human rights in society for the benefit and protection of all.
June 14, 2007 Fédération Internationale des ligues des droits de l'Homme // International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
The so-called "war on terrorism" has seen democratic governments resort to torture and ill treatment of persons suspected of involvement in terrorist activities and has reignited the age-old debate about whether torture can be justified if the purpose is to save innocent lives. In this context, prominent opinion and decision-makers as well as members of the general public in leading democratic countries have argued that new forms of transnational terrorism necessitate a revision of existing legal and moral norms related to torture and ill treatment. At the same time, authoritarian rulers around the world have exploited this climate to step up their oppression of political opposition groups.
In February 2007, with funding from the European Commission, the Fédération International des Droits de l'Homme (FIDH) in partnership with the #IRCT launched the three-year project, "Preventing Torture within the Fight against Terrorism". The overall objective is to contribute to re-establish international respect for the absolute prohibition against torture and ill treatment embedded in international law. The project will do this through a wide range of complementary activities covering research, awareness raising, advocacy and capacity building....
The Violent Intranational Conflict Data Project (VICDP) was created by Will H. Moore in 1992 to produce events data for the study of violent intranational conflict. The project produced data for five cases: Colombia, Nigeria, Peru, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, covering the years 1955-1991. In addition, some data were collected for both Lebanon and the Phillipines.
December 15, 2004 United States Institute of Peace
From Mali to Mindanao, the impact of turmoil and conflict in the Muslim world has far-reaching repercussions on international security and the global economy. As the United States and its allies continue their campaign against terrorism, it is key that long-term nonviolent options for preventing and combating international terrorism be made available to policymakers in the United States and beyond. To address these challenges and the range of political, social, economic, and religious issues that have come to light in the wake of September 11, the United States Institute of Peace has established the Muslim World Initiative....
August 5, 2011 Japan International Cooperation Agency Research Institute
After the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement, Cambodia set about the difficult process of state-building. Despite violent clashes in 1997-98, the Cambodian government has been largely successful in establishing full control of military forces, into which former Khmer Rouge soldiers have been reintegrated. The Cambodian government, with support of donors, successfully improved infrastructure throughout the country, built up capacity in key state institutions, and provided basic public services to the people. Behind these achievements was assistance from a grassroots network built by the Cambodian People‟s Party in the 1980s. This network is characterized by patronage connections between the government and village chiefs, and between the latter and villagers. Consequently, the legitimacy of the state has been strengthened. In contrast, social empowerment has been delayed, and people's political rights and freedoms have been restricted by the state. As shown by the recent increase of corruption charges and land tenure disputes, the imbalance between the powerful state and a stunted civil society is a potential factor of instability....
The Philippine government is experimenting with a creative
but risky strategy to bring peace to Mindanao. It has three
goals: demonstrate that good governance in the Autonomous
Region of Muslim Mindanao is possible through
a two-year reform program; bring separate discussions
with two insurgencies, the Moro National Liberation Front and the much larger, better-armed Moro Islamic
Liberation Front together; and hammer out the
territory and powers of a future Moro “sub-state” in peace
talks with the MILF. Until now, the government has not
made clear how the three components fit together, but it
may reveal its hand – at least in part – in mid-August 2011,
when it is widely expected to present a new proposal to
the MILF. After President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III
took office in June 2010, he said that resolving the conflict
in Mindanao was a priority, and the current occupants of
the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process are determined to find the formula for peace that
eluded their predecessors. The idea of “convergence” is
While many aspects are unclear, the thinking may run something
like this: A 2008 agreement with the MILF broke
down just before the final signing because of concerns in
Manila about Philippine sovereignty and among non-MILF
groups – both Christian and Muslim – in Mindanao about
protecting their political and economic interests. The Aquino
government knows the same could happen again unless the
sceptics are on board. It has postponed scheduled elections
in the ARMM and seems to believe that if it handpicks who
will run the region for the next two years, it could be possible
to clean it up in a way that proves autonomy need not
be synonymous with corruption, poverty and private armies.
At the same time, positions within the ARMM could
be used as sweeteners to entice members of the MNLF, who
are unhappy that their own 1996 peace agreement was never
fully implemented, to cooperate. The government also hopes
that Muslim civil society organisations can help push the
MILF and MNLF onto one negotiating track....
The Asia Foundation commissioned a study in August 2010 to examine the dynamics of gender and conflict
in Mindanao. Leslie Dwyer and Rufa Guiam conducted field-based research and a literature review
to identify challenges and opportunities for women and men in community and national peacebuilding.
Their report argues that programming is more effective when comprehensive gender analysis is utilized,
and that such an approach can be transformative in societies trying to emerge from conflict.
July 26, 2011 The Institute of Bangsamoro Studies // Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue
In November 2009, the massacre of 57 people in the
province of Maguindanao in Mindanao garnered
global attention. Directed by the politically powerful
Ampatuan clan, against the family members of
their political rivals, the Mangudadatu, many of the
individuals accused of participating in the massacre
belonged to Civilian Volunteer Organizations - CVOs -
controlled by the Ampatuans. Such CVOs
were recruited and funded by the local government
units - LGUs - which form a core part of the country’s
national security policy. Despite the fact that
they were under the control of the LGUs they had
come to effectively serve as the private army of the
This was a graphic example of an everyday
phenomenon in Mindanao where private armies,
militia, "civilian defense forces" and vigilante forces
have become indistinguishable. The Philippines is
marked by weak and fragmented public security
which is dominated by lethal clan rivalries, dynastic
politics and underdevelopment. Weak and poorly
implemented gun laws mean weapons are readily
available and often used. Militia have evolved to be
actors in armed violence and violent conflict across
Mindanao, particularly Muslim Mindanao which
is predominantly the focus of this report....