Data-driven analysis of political violence in the Bangsamoro conflict calls for a multi-faceted approach to achieve peace and address root causes.

January 1, 2024

The Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System

Every war-to-peace transition involves some level of violence as the new devolved authority grapples with building legitimacy, ensuring protection and providing welfare for its citizens. The bangsamoro conflict monitoring system (BCMS) provides a data-driven analysis of the correlates of political violence.

A successful Bangsamoro could erode support for Islamist militancy by providing accountability and representative leadership and addressing the grievances that drive it. But delays in normalization – including camp transformation, handover of firearms and delivery of socioeconomic development programs – threaten to undermine the achievement of those goals.

Monitoring and Analysis

The Philippines’ war-to-peace transition in Mindanao has reached a critical moment. Despite the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which was affirmed by a plebiscite five years later, a significant level of violence persists in the region.

A key aspect of this conflict is the persistence of identity-based and resource-driven conflicts that generate a high incidence of violent extremism, shadow economies, and human rights violations. These issues impede the peace and development gains made in the last two decades of CAB negotiations.

One way to address this is to monitor the situation using a local approach, but this can be challenging given the limitations of access in the region. For instance, it is easy for military-restricted areas to bar outside observers. It would also be difficult to reach communities in remote mountainous areas.

To address these challenges, International Alert is working on a local monitoring and analysis system, the Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System (BCMS), to support demand-driven policy dialogue and to inform more conflict-sensitive plans and policies for Mindanao. It will track violent conflict in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Cotabato City, and Davao City—the three regions that make up the southern corridor of Mindanao.

Recommendations

Despite the success of peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that led to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic LawFootnote 1 (BBL), violence persists in the Bangsamoro. This is largely due to the presence of a complex set of factors including insurgency, drug trafficking and illicit economies, inter-clan feuding, and political competition between MILF commanders.

The success of the BBL was facilitated by the engagement of various stakeholders in the community. These include local NGOs, academe, and civil society organizations (CSOs) as well as religious communities and community leaders. All these actors were involved in the design and implementation of the BBL, with varying degrees of participation and influence.

One of the lessons learned from the Bangsamoro peace process is the need to empower local stakeholders to become mediators and mediator facilitators in their own communities. This is in order to address the local dynamics and issues that can affect the implementation of the peace agreements, such as land ownership and property rights, social and economic development, and conflict resolution. This adaptive mediation approach enables the local context to be taken into account in the negotiation process and increases both parties’ level of acceptance and commitment to the implementation of the peace agreement.

Final Report

COTABATO CITY — To sustain the momentum towards peace in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), it is important to institutionalize conflict-sensitive planning in the government and how it governs, said a lawmaker filing in today’s legislative session a bill that seeks to do just that. The bill, principally authored by BARMM Member of the Parliament Amilbahar Mawallil, is known as the “Conflict-Sensitive Planning in the Bangsamoro Government Act” or BTA Bill No. 181.

Despite the progress made in the normalization track of the peace process, clan feuding and land related conflicts continue to be major sources of violence in BARMM, with the number of incidents doubling year-on-year. The proliferation of these types of conflicts is also fueling the resurgence of extremist groups that are using violence to undermine the peace process and the new government under President Rodrigo Duterte.

The data generated by the Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System (BCMS) is allowing researchers and development partners to gain nuanced understanding of the root causes of conflict in the ARMM, revealing that the problem lies in interlocking identity-based issues such as land and clan feuding and shadow economies like illegal drug trade, kidnap-for-ransom, and cattle rustling, where one violent incident can multiply into a string of incidents. This knowledge can inform more effective strategies for conflict prevention, particularly in the wake of the new peace strategy.

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