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Building Peace and Security

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Building Peace

Improving security and resolving the conflicts were priorities among displaced households, and to a lesser extent among others. The survey explored further if the respondents believed that peace was possible, and their opinion as to whatwas needed to end the violence and improve security. Respondents generally felt that violent conflict at some level was likely to persist in Mindanao. When asked whether they believed that all the religious groups, clans, and peoples of Mindanao could live together peacefully, without violence, 40 percent or more responded negatively thinking about the clans, and 29 percent believed religious groups could not live together peacefully.Negative views on peace were found throughout the survey area in mainland Mindanao in similar proportions, except in Maguindanao, where respondents were, on average, more optimistic about the prospect for peace compared to the rest of the population (94% believed all religious groups could live together). Views on peace did not vary significantly by settlement status.

Figure 39: Views on Peace

Figure 39 -  Views on Peace

Notwithstanding these pessimistic views, a majority of respondents believed that parties to the conflict and other authorities were committed to end the violence, including the central government (80%) and provincial authorities (78%). Views on the central and provincial authorities were similar across strata. However, respondent views were more divided regarding the AFP, MILF, MNLF and clan leaders:

  • One third of the respondents in Maguindanao (32%) and about half in Lanaodel Sur (56%) believed the AFP was committed to ending the violence, compared at least 73 percent elsewhere.
  • Less than half of total respondents believed the MILF was committed to ending the violence (48%), rising to 76% in Maguindanao and 73% in Lanao del Sur, compared to less than 40 percent elsewhere
  • Similarly, just 39 percent of the respondents believed the MNLF was committed to ending the violence, with the highest proportion found in Maguindanao (64%) and Lanaodel Sur (57%)
  • 48 percent believed clan leaders were committed to building a lasting peace, with the lowest proportion found in Lanaodel Sur (22%).
  • When asked to rate how hard different actors were working to end the violence (from ‘not at all’ to ‘extremely’, the responses by province varied as follows:

Table 8: Perception of commitment to end violence in Mindanao?

Table 8 -  Perception of commitment to end violence in Mindanao?

In North Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Norte the struggles for self-determinationwere identified as the main cause of the violence in Mindanao since 2000 (76%, 70%, and 57% of respondents, respectively). In Lanao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat, it was mentioned by 27 percent and 41 percent of people. The root cause was most frequently identified as clans fighting for power in Lanao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat (59% and 51% respectively), whereas in North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Lanao del Norte, clan struggles were identified by 19 percent, 24 percent and 27 percent, respectively. Other root causes identified by respondents included fights over land (8% in Lanao del Sur, and 7% in Sultan Kudarat).

Ending the Violence

In the light of these root causes identified by the respondents, the survey explored perspectives on what needed to be done to end the violence. Most frequently, their answers focused on economic development (64%), signing of the peace agreement (48%), ending impunity (43%), and ending land disputes (31%). Signing the peace agreement was proposed by about everyone (93%) in Maguindanao, where self-determination was identified as the main root cause of violence. In that province, 17 percentalso wanted AFP removed from the area. Respondents further proposed having a dialogue between armed groups (53%), between clans (38%) and between religious groups (37%), as well as training the police (17%) as the best means to improve security.

Figure 40: Proposed means to end the violence

Figure 40 -  Proposed means to end the violence

Figure 41: Proposed means to improve security

Figure 41 -  Proposed means to improve security

Peace and Religious Beliefs

While the respondents identified the struggle for power and self-determination as the roots of the conflicts in Mindanao, conflicts have also been shaped by religious identity.[1] Compared to respondents with a Christian religious belief, Muslim respondents were:

  • Less likely to feel safe in all of the daily life situations explored, such as going to work or fetch water (54% vs. 76% felt safe or very safe) or walking alone at night (33% vs. 55%). However, Christian respondents reported less frequently feeling safe talking openly about their religion (64% of the Muslim respondents felt safe or very safe doing so, compared to 52% of the Christian respondents).
  • More likely to say that inter-community assistance has improved over the last 10 years (33% vs. 16%)
  • More likely to believe that the central government only cared about some groups in Mindanao (60% vs. 51%)
  • More likely to believe that it is possible for all the religious groups to live in peace in Mindanao (75% vs. 65%), but less likely to trust people who have another religion (39% vs. 68%)
  • Less likely to believe that the central government (77% vs. 83%) and clan leaders (44% vs. 53%) are committed to peace, but more likely to believe that he MILF (71% vs. 23%) and MNLF (55% vs. 21%) are.
  • Less likely to trust the AFP (47% vs 15% said they did not trust at all or trusted only “a little” the AFP), but more likely to trust the MILF (65% vs 9% said moderately to a lot) and MNLF (56% vs. 7% said moderately to a lot).

These results highlight some key differences in perception of security and political actors, as well as a lack of trust between groups. This in turn may affect how respondents believed peace can be achieved. While 59 percent of the Muslim respondents believed that signing a peace agreement would end the violence, just 36 percent of the Christian respondents believed so, likely reflecting their lack of trust in the MILF and MNLF. Rather, Christian respondents emphasized the need to improve the economic situation (74% vs. 56% amongst Muslims), end impunity (45% vs. 40%), and resolve land conflicts (35% vs. 28%).


[1]Schiavo-Campo S, Judd M, The Mindanao Conflict in the Philippines: Roots, Costs, and Potential Peace Dividend, Social Development Papers, Conflict Prevention & Reconstruction Paper No. 24/ February 2005