War Makes States

The Conflict Alert 2019 highlights the decline of violent conflict incidents in Muslim Mindanao after the Marawi war and amidst continuing extremist violence events, the impact of the State's continued implementation of martial law in the region, and its implications especially on the strengthening of the Bangsamoro sub-state. WATCH the video highlights of the Conflict Alert report below.

CEMS Bulletin – June 2019

No honeymoon period for Bangsamoro’s newly elected leaders Transitions are never easy, particularly if they affect the well-being of thousands of people. In the Bangsamoro, the month of June saw officials who won new terms after the previous month’s election prepare to assume their posts and officials who lost prepare to vacate their offices, reluctantly or not. Meanwhile, those who won second or third terms set new priorities and consolidated loyalties among other local officials. Amid the comings and goings, the challenges plaguing the Bangsamoro became even more manifest, as if telling the election winners there will be no honeymoon. Around 170 reports provided in June by Early Response Network (ERN) members based in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao indicated a fragile peace and order situation, with more shootings and assassinations by riding-in-tandem teams.[1]  Illegal drug buy-busts and confiscations were conducted as the state continued to pursue an anti-drug campaign. Cases of kidnapping or missing children panicked families, especially as they could mask recruitment by groups linked to ISIS. All the while, extremist groups have regrouped…

CEMS Bulletin – April 2019

Heightened tensions and conflicts as dry season and campaign period set in April saw temperatures soar as the weather warmed and political rivalries heat up as the campaign for local posts got underway. These formed the backdrop for tensions that simmered and, in several instances, boiled over to claim lives and destroy properties in the Bangsamoro and surrounding areas. That month, a total of 93 reports were received by International Alert Philippines’s Critical Events Monitoring System (CEMS), sent in by Early Response Network (ERN) members in Cotabato and Marawi cities, the rest of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, and parts of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato.[1] These reports excluded reports on election-r’elated incidents, which were covered by an earlier bulletin.[2] Dry taps The onset of the dry season was declared by the weather bureau on 22 March – earlier than in 2018 – but by then Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi had already suffered from drought while Lanao del Sur and Basilan had experienced severely dry conditions.[3] Even hotter days were forecast for April. In Cotabato City,…

CEMS Bulletin – Postelection

Fraud and Violence: Mainstays of Bangsamoro Electoral Politics “Generally peaceful” was the Palace’s assessment of the 13 May polls for national and local posts.1 Nothing could be further from the truth, especially where Muslim Mindanao was concerned. A total of 108 reports on election-related incidents were received on 13 May by International Alert Philippines’s Critical Events Monitoring System, sent in by Early Response Network members stationed all over Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao including Cotabato City, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and parts of North Cotabato.2 A preview of election day, 11-12 May yielded a total of 36 reports, as anticipation among voters and heightened tensions among candidates and their supporters spurred reporting at a faster clip than in previous days. The two days before election day saw many voters returning to hometowns, candidates making their final appeals to voters, and candidates’ supporters positioning themselves to gain the biggest advantage for their principals. Explosives were set off to sow fear among voters and poll workers and to preoccupy the police and military deputized by Comelec to ensure order during the election.…

CEMS Bulletin – Plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law

The January 21 plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law will certainly rank as one of the most peaceful political exercises in recent Bangsamoro history. There were many reports of violence but none approximating the magnitude or body count in previous political competitions. Many observers claim that a plebiscite normally induces lower levels of violence in contrast to local elections because rivalries are less intense. There were many accounts of the festive atmosphere that accompanied the voting at the precinct level. From January 19 to 21, International Alert Philippines’s SMS-based Critical Events Monitoring System (CEMS), gathered reports of 56 incidents of tensions and violence in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Cotabato City, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. Forty-five of these happened on January 21, the day of the plebiscite. These reports include the grenade explosions near the residence of Maguindanao Municipal Trial Court Judge Angelito Rasalan on the eve of the Bangsamoro plebiscite, a gun attack at the house of Bangsamoro Transition Commission member Atty. Omar Sema in Cotabato City, and the detonation of a grenade found 20 meters…

War and Identity

The year 2017 was a turning point in the magnitude of violent conflict in the ARMM, amplified by the astonishing increase in conflict deaths due to the war in Marawi City and other places in Mindanao.  

Conflict Alert 2017 Report Highlights

Violent conflict surged to unprecedented levels in Muslim Mindanao in 2016 as the Duterte government launched a war on illegal drugs and guns and newly emerging violence from extremist groups escalated.