Violence in ARMM due to illegal drugs grow 6x 2015 to 2016 but rebels, extremists cause more deaths – International Alert

By Tricia Aquino, News5 | InterAksyon | December 1, 2017 Violent incidents related to illegal drugs grew almost six-fold in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao from 2015 to 2016, coinciding with the launch of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs when he assumed office. But peace building organization International Alert Philippines observed: “Despite the increase in drug-related incidents, the death toll from illicit drugs was still lower than those caused by political violence … A long history of revenge-killings in the Muslim Mindanao region and the likely clan feuding that may be unleashed may have led to a more cautious approach that lessened the bloodshed in the Bangsamoro.” International Alert Philippines launched Conflict Alert’s 2017 report titled “Guns, Drugs, and Extremism: Bangsamoro’s New Wars” on Wednesday in Taguig City. Conflict Alert is its conflict monitoring system for Mindanao. From 130 violent incidents related to illegal drugs in 2015, the number grew to 757 incidents in 2016. 87 percent of these incidents occurred from July to December 2016. From four deaths in 2015, 59 were killed…

Drug trade, gun-running to continue fuelling violent extremism in Mindanao: Experts

By Raul Dancel, The Straits Times | November 30, 2017 MANILA - Shadow economies, underpinned by illegal drug trade and gun-running, will continue to fuel violent extremism and attacks on urban areas in the insurgency-wracked southern Philippine island of Mindanao, experts have warned. "The problem remains. The Maute group may have been effectively defeated in the case of Marawi, but not in the case of the ideology. The ideology remains," Mr Francisco Lara, Philippine manager of the World Bank-funded think-tank International Alert, said at a news briefing. The ultra-radical Maute group, formed in 2013 by brothers Abdullah and Omarkhayam Maute, provided the bulk of fighters that stormed Marawi city in Mindanao on May 23 and held large parts of it for five months. More than 1,000 militants, government troops and civilians were killed in the conflict. Half of Marawi now lies in ruins, levelled by air raids, artillery barrages and fierce urban fighting. About 400,000 people were displaced. Mr Lara said on Wednesday (Nov 29) that a "major enabling factor" is the rise of shadow economies…

Group warns of revenge killings, rise in clan feuding in Marawi

By Jee Y. Geronimo, Rappler | November 30, 2017 MANILA, Philippines – Peacebuilding organization International Alert Philippines on Wednesday, November 29, warned about two looming problems related to identity that may erupt in Marawi City in the next few months. "One, there will be those who will seek revenge. They lost their property, they lost their loved ones, and they want revenge – that's one potential source, and it's classic rido, clan feuding, that may happen," International Alert Philippines country manager Francisco Lara Jr said during the launch of the Conflict Alert 2017. The second possible problem, according to Lara, is related to land. "So there are two major potential spikes in violence that are rido in nature or clan feuding, and they will be tied up to land because of the very unstable nature of property rights in the area, and then secondly, revenge killings," he reiterated. International Alert Philippines deputy country manager Nikki de la Rosa said there is a need to consider identity-based conflicts and land-based conflicts that happened before Marawi, and how those will "interplay" into existing conflicts…

International Alert warns of 2 post-Marawi sources of violence, calls for BBL’s passage

 By Tricia Aquino, InterAksyon | November 30, 2017 MANILA, Philippines — Peace-building organization International Alert Philippines has warned of two possible sources of violence that may erupt in Marawi City shortly after the war between terrorist groups and government forces in the Lanao del Sur capital: first are people who are seeking revenge for the loss of their families and/or property, and second are issues that have to do with overlapping land claims in the South. At the same time, International Alert Philippines stresses that the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) needs to happen soon, to prevent more violence. “It’s classic rido, clan-feuding that may happen,” said International Alert Philippines country manager Francisco Lara, Jr. on Wednesday in Taguig City, during the lauch of Conflict Alert’s 2017 report titled Guns, Drugs, and Extremism: Bangsamoro’s New Wars. Conflict Alert is International Alert Philippines’ conflict monitoring system for Mindanao. For example, Lara learned that the arrest of the widow of Omarkhayam Maute, Indonesian Minhati Madrais, was possibly due to some affected families ratting her out. Land issues,…

Marawi rehab: ‘Build communities resilient to threat of extremism’

By Jee Y. Geronimo, Rappler | November 29, 2017 MANILA, Philippines – Peacebuilding organization International Alert Philippines on Wednesday, November 29, urged the government to make sure that the rehabilitation of Marawi City will include efforts to build communities that are resilient to the threat of extremism. During the launch of Conflict Alert 2017 on Wednesday, International Alert Philippines country manager Francisco Lara Jr pointed out that the rehabilitation so far seems to be a "physical type of response."  "Actually if you look at the plan, it's almost a remake of Yolanda [rehabilitation]. In fact, we've heard that some of the resources in Yolanda that haven't been spent will be spent in Marawi. So is the government treating this as a natural calamity? I hope not. Are they treating this simply as a matter of building, constructing infrastructure? I hope not," he said, referring to Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). He said government agencies dealing with poverty and social welfare "do not figure prominently" in Task Force Bangon Marawi. The inter-agency task force is headed by the chairperson of the…

Cotabato City unlikely to be ‘the next Marawi,’ says peace NGO

By Marlly Rome Bondoc, GMA News | November 29, 2017 The possibility of Cotabato City being "the next" Marawi City is unlikely, as the Maute group would not be able to easily mobilize there due in part to the city's more diverse population, a non-government organization said Wednesday. At the launch of International Alert Philippines' Conflict Alert 2017 report "Guns, Drugs, and Extremism: Bangsamoro's New Wars," country manager Francisco "Pancho" Lara, Jr. said that Cotabato City is a "totally different ball game" from Marawi City. "First of all, we do not think that they will be able to mobilize the same numbers that quickly after the setback in Marawi. It may happen—and I'm not only talking about Cotabato, it might happen elsewhere, but it will take some time to build up those resources," Lara said. Armed Forces of the Philippines Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that they are looking at the possibility of Cotabato City becoming the next target of the Maute terrorists. Lara said, however, that they do not believe that the Maute…

ARMM saw ‘explosion of violence’ in 2016 – report

By Jee Y. Geronimo, Rappler | November 29, 2017 MANILA, Philippines – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) saw an "explosion of violence" in 2016, according to the latest Conflict Alert launched by International Alert Philippines on Wednesday, November 29. "There were 4,356 incidents in 2016, or an 89% increase from the previous year's 2,303 incidents. All provinces in ARMM saw increases in conflict incidents to more than double their previous year numbers in the case of Maguindanao (including Cotabato City), Basilan (including Isabela City), and Tawi-Tawi," the 63-page report said.  Lanao del Sur saw the smallest increase (22%) of incidents, followed by Sulu (68%). The increase in Maguindanao and Basilan was due to "an intensification of urban violence" in Cotabato City and Isabela City, respectively. While Maguindanao posted the highest number of incidents, Basilan was ahead of Maguindanao in terms of conflicts per 100,000 persons or per 1,000 square kilometers. The report noted that the increase in violent conflict incidents in ARMM happened amid the holding of local elections, the Duterte administration's anti-drug campaign, and…

Study shows conflict incidents spike in ARMM in 2016

By Marlly Rome Bondoc, GMA News | November 29, 2017 The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) saw an "explosion of violence" in 2016, with conflict incidents recorded mostly in Maguindanao although most deaths were in Basilan, according to the Conflict Alert report released Wednesday. The report titled "Guns, Drugs, and Extremism: Bangsamoro's New Wars" said the violence in ARMM occurred amid the holding of national elections and the "coming to power of a new administration dedicated to eradicating the drug problem in the Philippines." The 63-page report, which was developed by International Alert Philippines, showed that there were a total of 4,356 conflict incidents in ARMM in 2016, an 89 percent increase from the previous year's 2,303. Maguindanao (including Cotabato City) posted the highest number of conflict incidents followed by Basilan (including Isabela City) and Tawi-Tawi. Lanao del Sur had the smallest increase of conflict incidents. The increase in Maguindanao and Basilan was attributed to the "intensification in urban violence in Cotabato City and Isabela City, respectively," the report said. "Basilan more violent" Basilan was…

Report confirms link between drug trade and extremist violence in south

By Elijah Felice Rosales, Business Mirror | November 29, 2017 Shadow economies, particularly illegal-drugs trade, have financed extremist groups with their terror activities in Mindanao, leading to the explosion of violence in the country’s southern island, a study by a peace organization said. A report, titled “Conflict Alert 2017,” by the International Alert said the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) “saw an explosion of violence” in 2016 in the face of the national elections and the rise of President Duterte, whose administration vowed to eradicate the country’s drug menace. According to the study, shadow economies have primarily caused the “sharp rise” in violent conflict. “The sharp rise in shadow economy-related incidents coincided with the start of President Duterte’s term of office, specifically after a nationwide and coordinated antidrug campaign was announced in July 2016,” the report said. “The volume of illegal drug-related violence grew sixfold from the previous year. Bulk of shadow economy-related conflicts took place in Maguindanao, with illegal-drugs cases in this province comprising most of the cases,” the study added. The rise in…

PRESS RELEASE: Explosion of violence in Muslim Mindanao in 2016

Taguig City, 29 November 2017—Violence in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) reached unprecedented levels in 2016, providing a preview of what would happen in 2017. This is according to Conflict Alert, a subnational conflict monitoring system developed by peacebuilding organization International Alert Philippines. Conflict Alert, which launched its 2017 report today, tracks the incidence, causes, and human costs of violent conflict in Mindanao. It has the largest database on subnational conflict, containing more than 40,000 violent conflict incidents gathered from police reports, print media, and community sources. The latest report highlights an 89% year-on-year increase in violent conflict incidents in 2016 in the ARMM, amid the holding of local elections, the state-led anti-drug campaign, and the emergence of a particularly lethal form of violent conflict: violent extremism. All provinces in the ARMM saw large increases in the number of conflicts. Maguindanao posted the highest number of incidents, followed by Basilan and Sulu. However, in terms of conflicts per 100,000 persons or per 1,000 square kilometers, Basilan was ahead of Maguindanao. Shadow economy issues, primarily…