The Philippines — an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands that was once a U.S. colony and is a current U.S. treaty ally — has faced challenges to its stability and national cohesion since independence, particularly emanating from the violent conflict in Mindanao that began in the 1970s. However, the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao in 2019 has presented the greatest opportunity in years to forge a sustainable peace in Mindanao. Building on decades of peacebuilding efforts in the region, USIP is working to expand research on conflict dynamics in Mindanao and to support the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and local civil society.
The election in May of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the 17th president of the Philippines presents an opportunity to reset U.S.-Philippines relations after six rocky years while President Rodrigo Duterte held the office. After Marcos’s sweeping election victory, President Biden called to congratulate him and then dispatched a series of U.S. officials to Manila, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Any concerns that the Marcos family’s corruption and lingering legal issues in the United States would hold up relations have been pushed aside due to the enormous interests the United States has in a functioning U.S.-Philippines alliance.
The normalization track of the Bangsamoro peace process involves the decommissioning of 40,000 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants and their firearms, as well as their transformation to civilian and productive members of society through the provision of socioeconomic development programs and other peace dividends, extending to their families and communities.
Clan feuds, or rido, are a constant threat to peace and stability across the territories of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in southern Philippines. Armed conflict displaces tens of thousands of people in Mindanao each year and rido is one of the causes of these displacements. The persistent cycles of rido contribute to other forms of social issues and violence, ranging from child exploitation to violent extremism.
In recent years, peace processes — such as the track 2 intra-Afghan negotiations — have shown that on both a moral and practical level, women’s inclusion is essential. Women’s involvement in peace processes increases their likelihood of success and longevity and can increase legitimacy. While more literature on women contributing to mediation and negotiation efforts is slowly being produced, little attention is currently being paid to the already existing work of women who employ their faith and mobilize religious resources for peacebuilding.