Conflict Analysis of the Philippines

29th July 2019
Author: Siân Herbert

This rapid literature review examines the main conflict and instability drivers in the Philippines. The conflict has been a longstanding feature of the Philippines, with two long-running insurgencies, and a number of other types of conflict and violence. In the current day the main types of violence and conflict include: violence by state actors against civilians; clan-related violence; political and armed conflicts by nationalist/separatist groups in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago; a communist-inspired guerrilla campaign (mainly in western Mindanao); violent extremist and criminal groups; anti-drug vigilantes; other criminal violence; domestic and gender-based violence; protests; violence around elections; and local conflicts over resources and community rights. The Philippines has a long history of insurgent groups, three main armed insurgent groups are currently active, plus there are multiple violent extremist groups and factions. Militants move easily between violent extremism, insurgency and criminality. A number of groups align themselves to the so-called Islamic State (IS). Some see the new groups as representing a new strand of violent extremism, while others see them as having evolved from the previous struggles for secession and self-determination. There is a substantial amount of recent literature looking at the different issues that may drive conflict and instability in the Philippines. At the macro/country level, it is mostly from policy and practitioners. The literature tends to focus on: the recent violent extremist conflict acts ad actors; the peace process and the newly established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM); and the human rights violations of Duterte’s war on drugs. The first two are discussed together, and the literature does not tend to separate out the drivers for the conflict relating to the older insurgent groups and the newer pro-IS insurgent factions. The majority of literature focuses on the Mindanao region, while the human rights/war-on-drugs literature covers the country more broadly.

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Suggested Citation

Herbert, S. (2019). Conflict analysis of the Philippines. K4D Helpdesk Report 648. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.


29th July 2019


Continent: Asia

Country: Philippines