History and Analysis of Conflict in the Bangsamoro

History and Analysis of Conflict in the Bangsamoro
History and Analysis of
Conflict in the Bangsamoro
Bangsamoro Development Plan
History and Analysis of
Conflict in the Bangsamoro
A. A Brief History of the Bangsamoro
The history of conflict in Mindanao can be traced back
the customs and traditions of the Moros, led to massive
to Spanish colonization in the 16
dispossession of Moro lands by settlers and private
century. By then,
Islam had already taken root in Mindanao,
been introduced in the 13 century by Arab traders and
promoted by missionaries from Indonesia and Malaysia
After the Philippines gained independence from the
in the 15 and early 16 centuries. In line with Islamic
United States, a series of land resettlement programs in
tradition, a governance structure was in place in the form
Mindanao in the 1950s and 1960s further accelerated
of Sultanates.
this dispossession. The resettlement programs were
undertaken to ease the social unrest spawned by the
The ability of the Muslims to thwart successive attempts
Communist-led Huk rebellion in the islands of Luzon
of the Spanish colonial forces to subjugate them set
and the Visayas and, purportedly, to further develop
their people apart from the northern inhabitants of the
Mindanao by exploiting its vast natural resources.14
Philippine archipelago, most of whom were conquered
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, tension increased
and converted to Christianity. Deep distrust and
between the settlers and Moros as land scarcity grew and
centuries-old distrust continued between the two groups.
were cultivated by the colonizers among
the Christian converts against their Muslim brothers as a
way of ensuring their control of most of the country and
its inhabitants. Intermittent wars were fought between
government in Manila and the Moros was triggered
the Spanish invaders and their local Christian allies and
by the Jabidah massacre in 1968,15 which led to the
Muslim fighters throughout three centuries of Spanish
establishment of the first Moro separatist groups initially
colonial rule.
with the founding of the Moro Independence Movement
(MIM) and eventually the Moro National Liberation Front
The advent of American colonial rule did little to
change the situation. The American regime passed a
series of land laws12 that favored settlers and private
The declaration of martial law by President Ferdinand
corporations at the expense of the Moros. This, along
Marcos in 1972 transformed the conflict from a
with the implementation of land titling programs in
simmering rebellion into a full-blown war. Ultimately
Mindanao anchored in a property rights regime alien to
realizing that he could not achieve total victory against
History and Analysis of Conflict in the Bangsamoro
the Moro combatants, Marcos initiated the signing of
in the displacement of more than a million people, with
the 1976 Tripoli Agreement with the MNLF. Under this
high human and physical costs to the entire country.
agreement, the MNLF would drop its separatist goal in
Following Estrada’s impeachment and ouster in 2001,
favor of creating an autonomous government for the
President Gloria Arroyo reversed her predecessor’s
Moros. In the years that followed, the conflict returned
aggressive policy and declared an “all-out peace” stance
to being a low-intensity rebellion, with the Central
toward the MILF. Peace negotiations began but broke
Government in Manila implementing its own definition
down when the government unilaterally attacked MILF
of autonomy for the Moros.
positions in 2003, resulting in the displacement of more
than a half a million people.
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the Tripoli Agreement,
the MILF led by Chairman Salamat Hashim, formally
Later that year, the signing of a ceasefire agreement with
broke away from the MNLF in the signing of instrument
the MILF paved the way for resumed negotiations, which
December 30, 1977. Chairman Salamat distinguished the
culminated in the 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on
MILF from the MNLF by stressing not only a nationalist
Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). The MOA-AD provided
but also an Islamic agenda.
for greater autonomy for the Bangsamoro to govern their
affairs and an expanded ARMM territory. However, it
Following the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986,
was challenged in the Philippine Supreme Court and
under the government of President Corazon Aquino,
was ruled unconstitutional. There followed another
a new Philippine Constitution was enacted in 1987
major outbreak of armed violence between some MILF
that included provisions for autonomy in Muslim
forces and government troops, displacing some 700,000
Mindanao and the Cordillera Region. This opened further
negotiations between the GRP and the MNLF and led to
the signing of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between
It was not until mid-2010, with the newly elected
the GRP and MNLF during the administration of President
government of President Benigno Aquino III, that
Fidel V. Ramos. The agreement provided for the creation
negotiations resumed. In early 2011, President Aquino
of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and
personally met Chairman Murad in Tokyo to assure him
Development (SPCPD) as a transitory institution before
of his government’s sincerity in seeking lasting peace
the establishment of an expanded region to be known as
with the MILF. In October 2012, the GPH and MILF
peace negotiating panels, through mediation by the
Malaysian Government, reached a breakthrough and
The MILF distanced itself from the agreement but
signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro
committed to not standing in the way of peace. However,
noncompliance by both sides to the peace agreement
and failure to deliver the peace and economic growth
A series of negotiations provided the details of the FAB,
promised to MNLF constituents resulted in increased
which are contained in four annexes pertaining to: (1)
support across the region for the MILF. The MNLF’s
Transitional Arrangements and Modalities; (2) Wealth
credibility was further eroded in 1998 when the new
Sharing and Revenue Generation; (3) Power Sharing;16
administration of President Joseph Estrada did not give
and (4) Normalization. The signing of the Comprehensive
full support to the peace agreement.
Agreement on the Bangsamoro signaled the start of a new
phase in the relationship between the MILF and the GPH
In 2000, concerned about the MILF’s growing strength,
and the difficult task of implementing the peace accord
the Estrada regime declared an “all-out war,” resulting
as embodied in the proposed BBL.
Bangsamoro Development Plan
B. Conflict and Development Analysis of the
Conservative estimates of deaths due to wars in
Mindanao put the fatalities at nearly 120,000 from 1970
to 1996, with even higher figures for protracted and
cyclical displacement.17 Purely economic assessments
of the costs of conflict range from a conservative USD 2
to 3 billion for the period from 1970 to 200118 to USD
10 billion for the period from 1975 to 2002.19 The latter
considers not only direct output losses but also other
factors, such as forgone investments and capital flight.
Using USD 10 billion as the reference figure and based
on the average exchange rate between 1975 and 2002
of PhP 22.5 to the US dollar, this amounts to PhP 225
billion or around PhP 8.3 billion per year—losses that
have translated to profound social and economic impacts
and forgone opportunities for both the Bangsamoro and
the Philippines as a whole.20
As a development plan for a conflict-affected area, the
BDP is anchored in an understanding of the complex
security, justice, and economic factors that drive and
perpetuate conflict and its corresponding development
costs. The 2005 Joint Needs Assessment (JNA) for
Reconstruction and Development of Conflict-Affected
Areas in Mindanao21 illustrates how injustice in its
various manifestations underpins the historical conflict
in the Bangsamoro. These forms of injustice escalate into
structural violence and armed confrontation because of
commits the parties to three interlocking aspects of the
peace process: (1) Security Aspect (2) Rehabilitation,
to be done in support of structural and security
sector reform, particularly in the transition period,
the full implementation of the CAB will require
targeted socioeconomic responses that will enable
the Bangsamoro to immediately feel the benefits of the
peace dividends and improve their overall welfare.
The signing of the CAB is a significant step in reducing
incidences of state-minority contestation, or vertical
conflict, which pits non-state armed groups against
government forces. Data from the GPH Coordinating
Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) (see
Figure 1) show no armed skirmishes between the GPH
and MILF since the breakthrough in peace negotiations
in 2012, which provided an enabling environment for
stable communities and continuous socioeconomic
Other drivers of conflict in the Bangsamoro area take the
form of inter-communal (between political and ethnolinguistic groups) and inter-elite violence (rido or local
clan feuds, such as over political posts and control over
Figure 1: Annual Trend of GPH-MILF Armed Skirmishes
natural and mineral resources, crime (e.g., cattle rustling,
kidnapping), local election disputes, and government
policies, such as the declaration of “all-out war” against
the MILF by the Estrada administration, among others.
In response to the cycles of violence and insecurity
driven by widespread economic marginalization and
political disenfranchisement in the Bangsamoro, the
Ancestral Domain Aspect. While much work remains
certain key triggers, including competition for scarce
CAB, specifically the Tripoli Agreement of 2001,
Source: GPH-CCCH Info Brief (March 2012)
History and Analysis of Conflict in the Bangsamoro
resources).23 While distinct, these horizontal conflicts
in this Plan are therefore different from those in the parts
are often closely related to the vertical conflict, and
of the Philippines that are not affected by conflict.
one spills over into the other.
Another driver of
conflict is the prevalence of the shadow economy,
For the short term, the Plan recommends actions
or “nonconformist economic activities”
such as the
illicit weapons and drug trade, kidnap-for-ransom
and strengthen the legitimacy of the Bangsamoro
activities, informal credit and land markets, and cross-
Government. The Plan recognizes that how development
border trade, as it intersects with the prevalence of
is implemented in the Bangsamoro matters as much as
warlordism and clan-based violence. Economic rents
how much is spent. Based on the principles described
from the shadow economy are used to consolidate
in the next chapter, the BDP promotes distribution of
political influence and patronage, reinforcing overall
resources based on need and equity, to ensuring fair and
insecurity and further undermining weak institutions.
equal access to development opportunities for all in the
The Plan gives priority to development
Injustice and insecurity are central to the narrative of
approaches that are people-centered and that bring
failed development in the Bangsamoro. Economic
communities together for joint planning and decision-
development by itself cannot address the historical
making, as these have been proven to build the necessary
grievances of the Bangsamoro or the insecurity that
social cohesion.
affects large parts of the Bangsamoro territories. But
development can play a part in supporting the political
As a conflict-sensitive and peacebuilding plan, the BDP
and security transitions that will play out in the coming
is ultimately built around developing stronger institutions
period. Accordingly, the BDP is a peacebuilding
that will deliver better services, more effective justice, and
plan that analyzes and addresses development issues
decent jobs and livelihood for the Bangsamoro people.
through the lens of conflict. It is driven by a strong
Such institutions will require open and transparent
intention to address injustice and directly tackle
governance, partnerships between government and civil
sources of discontent that drive conflict. The priorities
society, and a willingness to openly engage with citizens.
Bangsamoro Development Plan
9 See Rodil (2009), Houben (2003), and Abubakar (2005).
10 There were four sultanates, namely: the Sultanate of Sulu, which was based in Sulu but also ruled the neighboring islands and coastal areas of
what is now known as the Zamboanga Peninsula; the Sultanate of Maguindanao, which covered the south-central portion of Mindanao Islands;
the Four Principalities of Lanao, which ruled the eastern and central portion of Mindanao; and the Sultanate of Kabuntalan in Maguindanao. For
historical accounts of the rise and fall of the Sultanates in Mindanao, refer to Majul (1973 and 1985), Tan (1977, 1989 and 1993), Muslim (1994),
Tanggol (1993), and Rodil (2009).
11 In fact, the Spaniards used the term “Moros” to refer to the Islamized inhabitants of Mindanao to distinguish them from the Christian inhabitants
of Luzon and the Visayas.
12 Refer to the 1902 Philippine Bill, which effectively upheld Spanish cadastral laws; the 1902 Land Registration Act, which established the
requirement of a “Torrens title” as proof of land ownership; and the 1905 and 1918 Public Land Acts, which determined all unregistered and
untitled lands to be owned by the State, and that such public lands may be claimed and registered through the free patent system.
13 This is the Regalian doctrine, which was first introduced during the Spanish colonial period and became the basis for all land laws as established
in the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Philippine Constitutions. It stipulates that all lands of the public domain and other natural resources belong to the
King of Spain and later to the State as the natural successor.
14 See Majul (1973 and 1985), Tan (1977, 1989, and 1993), and Mastura (2004).
15 This involved the killing of at least 28 young Moro military trainees by their superiors to prevent a leak of the Philippine Government’s intent of
fomenting unrest in Sabah, to which the Sulu Sultanate has a claim.
16 An Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters complements the “Annex on Power Sharing.”
17 See World Food Programme and World Bank (2010).
18 Using an exchange rate then of PhP 54.5 to USD 1, this will amount to PhP 108 to PhP 158 billion for the entire period or around PhP 5.0–7.5
billion per year. See Barandiaran (2002).
19 See Schiavo-Campo and Judd (2005). This is further supported by the United Nations Development Programme (2005).
20 Average exchange rate calculated using data from World Bank World Development Indicators (1975–2002).
21 See World Bank et.al (2005). The 5-volume report is divided into sectoral concerns, namely: human development, rural development, finance and
private sector development, local governance and institutions, and an integrative report which serves as the fifth volume. Each sectoral report
rendered a discussion of the current situation in their sector, identified the problems, formulated recommendations to address these problems,
and identified the menu of activities that need to be undertaken and their funding requirements. The recommended activities were divided into
three implementation periods: “immediate term” (start at year 1 but implementation can go beyond year 1); “short term” (start in year 2 but
implementation can go beyond 1 or 2 years); and “medium term” (start in year 4 and 5 but implementation can go beyond 2 or 3 years). To obtain
the data for the needs assessment, the study employed key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and analysis of secondary data.
More than 3,000 individuals and representatives of institutions served as respondents of the study coming from 19 municipalities in 7 provinces
considered as Conflict-Affected Areas (CAAs).
22 See the “GPH-CCCH Update Report” (2012).
23 State-minority contestation is also known as “vertical conflict” in conflict literature; inter-elite and inter-communal contestations are classified as
“horizontal conflict.”
24 See Adriano and Parks (2013) for additional information on the typology of conflict in the Bangsamoro.
25 Lara and Schoofs (2013).
26 Ibid.