Southern Philippines Conflict

Rodrigo Duterte 

What’s Next for Mindanao Peace Process Under Duterte Leadership?

June 1, 2016


In the lead-up to May 9 Philippine elections, anxiety mounted over how the decades-long Bangsamoro peace process to resolve the protracted conflict in Mindanao would continue – if at all – under new leadership. Now, as President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, who will be sworn into office on June 30, sets about naming his new cabinet, peace advocates are w… Read more

On May 9, a record-breaking 81.6 percent of Filipino voters went to the polls to elect a new president. Voters line up in Butig Lanao del Sur.  Photo by Derkie Alfonso 

Philippine Elections: Politics and Peace Make Strange Bedfellows

May 18, 2016


On May 9, a record-breaking 81.6 percent of Filipino voters went to the polls to elect a new president. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who ran a tough-talking, polarizing campaign that focused on criminality and promised to instill law and order, won with over 38 percent of the votes. On May 9, a record-breaking 81.6 percent of Filipino voters w… Read more

At the bullet-scarred municipal hall of Butig, where the extremists and the military had an encounter in mid-February, tensions remain due to heavily armed security forces manning the precinct. Photo by Anna Tasnim Basman 

Amid Tensions, Lanao’s Butig Municipality Holds Violence-Free Election

May 11, 2016


In the Philippines, violence has always been an issue of great concern come election time, and May 9 was no exception, especially in Lanao del Sur, one of the five provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao where the risk of violence is compounded by the presence of private armed groups, local conflicts, and loose firearms. At the bullet… Read more

As the campaign period for the May 9 general elections comes to a close, increasing numbers of Bangsamoro peace process advocates are pushing national and local candidates for more explicit statements regarding their strategy in resolving the protracted conflict in Mindanao. Photo/Mar Roxas Facebook page 

Imperatives for Peace Face New President in the Philippines

May 4, 2016


“No administration can afford to ignore the costs of conflict in Mindanao – not the human costs of conflict, the costs of development delayed or foregone, the budgetary and security costs of conflict, nor the risk of worsening a climate conducive to the spread of violent extremism.” This was the latest assessment of the Third Party Monitoring Team… Read more


Young Advocates Use Art to Promote Peace in Southern Philippines

February 17, 2016


Late last month, a group of young peace advocates sponsored “Piece of Peace,” or POP, an art contest at a public elementary school in the town of Patikul in Sulu, Southern Philippines. The event attracted young artists from the area who showcased their talents…


Who Is a Terrorist? Lessons from Thailand and the Philippines

January 20, 2016


The 2015 Global Terrorism Index was recently launched by the Institute of Economics and Peace. The timing of the report, released just three days after the Paris attacks, was sadly opportune. The main message – that terrorism is on the rise and its reach is widening – chimes with a new assertiveness…


Bangsamoro Law Deliberations: Déjà Vu All Over Again?

November 4, 2015


The Philippine Congress resumed session this week, and is potentially in its last stretch in deliberating on legislation that would establish the new Bangsamoro Government. In a recent pronouncement, both houses of Congress declared a self-imposed deadline…


2016 Philippines Election Politics Causes Hiatus in Bangsamoro Law Process

October 14, 2015


This week, tens of thousands of aspiring candidates – from president and vice president, through senators and members of Congress, to governors, mayors, and local councilors – will file for candidacy in May 2016 general elections in the Philippines.


Peace Council Endorses Bangsamoro Basic Law – with Some Tweaks

May 6, 2015


It’s crunch time again for peacemaking in Mindanao. Both houses of the Philippine Congress are now considering the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the implementing legislation for the hard-won peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Manila Daily Life 

Doing Development Differently: Report from Manila

April 29, 2015


On Monday and Tuesday in Manila, The Asia Foundation, along with Harvard University and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and with media partner DevEx to get the message out, hosted the second Doing Development Differently forum (DDD).


Energy Crisis in the Philippines: An Electricity or Presidential Power Shortage?

March 18, 2015


As predicted, the Philippines is heading into a severe “summer” power crisis. One peculiarity of the widespread use of English in the Philippines is the mismatch between seasonal names and the months of the year. Leaves start falling from trees in March – is it “autumn?”


Registration Symbolizes First Step in Integrating MILF in Philippines Electoral Process

March 11, 2015


It was an admirable effort. On March 7, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), understaffed with just four commissioners left after the retirement of Chairman Sixto Brillantes, held a symbolic special satellite voter registration of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members and their families….


Building A More Solid Evidence Base for Peace and Development in Mindanao

January 14, 2015


Conflict-affected areas of Mindanao in the southern Philippines form a complex, unpredictable, and highly dynamic environment that makes development programming very challenging against a backdrop of general urgency. Over the last 15 years, The Asia Foundation has been engaged in Mindanao…


Philippines 2015: Presidential Speculation, Scandals, and Prospects for Peace

January 7, 2015


A year ago, I predicted that one of the main stories of 2014 in the Philippines would be recovery efforts from Typhoon Haiyan, and indeed it took until October (almost the one-year anniversary) for final approval of the massive rehabilitation phase.


Polling Shows Encouraging Climate of Opinion for Mindanao Peace Negotiations

October 8, 2014


On September 10, Philippine President Benigno Aquino personally turned over the draft Basic Law based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro to Congress after months of revisions and refinement. The move continues the roadmap set forth in negotiations…


One Year After Siege, Zamboanga Critical to Success of Any Peace Agreement

September 10, 2014


On Sept. 9, 2013, Zamboanga City woke to an unfolding nightmare. Some 200 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters under the charismatic commander Ustadz Habier Malik had landed. They professed, despite the fact that they were fully armed, an intention merely to have a peaceful march in support of independence for Muslim-dominated areas in the southern Philippines. When government security forces halted their march, MNLF forces took hostages as a string of human shields, tying them together with rope. As a nightmare, this was a recurrence…


Subnational Conflict: New Approaches Needed

August 13, 2014


In last week’s In Asia, I examined how the rise of Asia in recent decades has been accompanied by a growth in deadly subnational conflicts (SNCs). These conflicts are occurring across the continent, including in middle-income and otherwise stable states. Democratization has not been a cure. Asia’s subnational conflicts last twice as long as those elsewhere in the world.


Minorities within the Minority: Indigenous Communities in the Bangsamoro

August 6, 2014


In March this year, a major milestone passed in the 40-year effort to end hostilities in the Philippines between the national government and Muslim separatist fronts. The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a Comprehensive…


Implementation of Bangsamoro Holds Lessons for Philippines as a Whole

March 26, 2014


As we prepare for the long-awaited March 27 signing in Manila between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, one of the striking things of the peace process…


The Boundaries of Evidence in Conflict Management and Peacebuilding

December 11, 2013


In The Asia Foundation’s recent report, “Subnational Conflict and International Development Assistance,” the authors argue that a sustainable solution to the many subnational conflicts plaguing different countries…


Interfaith Efforts Build Back a Better Zamboanga: Rehabilitating Christ the King Chapel

December 4, 2013


On Sept. 9, 2013, Zamboanga City was Sstruck by an armed group of Muslim separatists, leading to weeks of urban warfare and more than 100,000 displaced persons. The city is majority Christian, so the invasion naturally led to considerable tension…


Barangay Elections in the Philippines Test Security

November 6, 2013


Five months after the May mid-term national and local elections in the Philippines, nearly 54 million citizens across 42,000 barangays (villages) headed to the polls on October 28 to elect their new barangay chairpersons and councilors.


Photo Blog: Zamboanga City Begins Recovery Through Inter-Faith Efforts

October 16, 2013


October 15 was a national holiday in the Philippines to celebrate Eid’l Adha, the Muslim festival of the sacrifice. The day was also tragically marked by an earthquake in central Philippines, one consequence of which was considerable damage to historic churches…


Zamboanga Tragedy: A Pivot Point in the Mindanao Peace Process

October 9, 2013


Zamboanga City’s hard road to recovery from weeks of urban fighting between Muslim rebels and government troops has been delayed by heavy rains that shut down the city yesterday, cancelling flights and closing schools. However long the recovery takes, and whatever shape it assumes…


Photo Blog: Relief Efforts in Zamboanga City

October 2, 2013


The ongoing conflict in Zamboanga City, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, which started on Sept. 9, 2013, has displaced 110,687 people, damaged more than 10,000 homes, and left more than 200 dead, among them soldiers, rebels, and civilians…