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Sense of Security

The survey found that most respondents (72%) considered themselves safe or very safe from crime and violence. Perception of safety, however, was lowest among respondents in Maguindanao (59%), and among respondents that were displaced at the time of the survey (53%). Households relied mainly on friends and family (57%) as their main source of information on security.

Figure 17: Respondents’ general sense of security

Figure 17 -  Respondents’ general sense of security

Despite the positive overall results, the sense of safety was low in relation to many daily life routines. Three quarters or more of respondents felt safe or very safe being alone at home (81%) or walking alone during the day (74%) but less than two thirds felt safe going to the field or fetch water (64%) and talking openly about religion (58%).Less than half the respondents felt safe going to the nearest market (47%), walking alone at night (44%), and complaining to authorities (37%) or to the police (37%) if victim of a crime. The situations that were least perceived as safe were talking openly about disputes or conflicts (28%), meeting a stranger from another clan (23%), or generally meeting a stranger (17%).

Figure 18: Respondents’ experience of crimes in the one year period prior to the survey

Figure 18 -  Respondents’ experience of crimes in the one year period prior to the survey

The sense of safety could partly reflect exposure to on-going violence and crime. The survey assessed exposure to crime during the year before the survey. Respondents most frequently reported unarmed theft / burglary (12%), and armed theft or burglary (6%). Assault with or without weapons were reported by respectively 5 percent and 1 percent of the respondents, respectively. As was the case for exposure to war-related violence, respondents in Maguindanao and displaced respondents were more likely to report exposure to crimes compared to the rest of the population.

Security Sector Actors

The respondents were askedto identify whom, in their opinion, provides security in their community. The most common response was the community itself (70%), followed by the police (53%), the government (38%), and the AFP (22%). The MILF and MNLF were mentioned by respectively 9 percent and 4 percent of the respondents, but with a higher proportion in Maguindanao (respectively 40% and 24%). Displaced households were more likely to say that the government provided security (69% compared to 46% or less among other groups). Displaced households and returnees were least likely to say that the community provided security (respectively 60% and 57% compared to an average of 70.

Table 2: Who provides security

Table 2 -  Who provides security

Disputes and Dispute Resolution

Respondents were asked what disputes, if any, were most frequent in their area, and what disputes, if any, tended to become violent. The disputes that were most frequently reported were household disputes (59%), followed by disputes over power (51%) and clan conflicts (32%). Among these, disputes over power were most frequently identified as potentially turningviolent (76%), followed by clan disputes (37%). The proportion of households reporting disputes over power and clan disputes was highest in Maguindanao (respectively 92% and 66%).

Figure 19: Most common dispute in respondents’ area

Figure 19 -  Most common dispute in respondents’ area

While a high proportion of households mentioned the presence of disputes in their area, few indicated having directly experienced any form of disputes. Six percent reported having ever experienced a land dispute, equally distributed between disputes over farmland and residential plots. Three percent had experienced a land dispute in the year prior to the survey. Land disputes were most frequently mentioned in North Cotabato (11%), and were also more frequent among households who decided to resettle elsewhere (16%).

Given the small number of conflicts reported, comparisons across groups are not possible. In most of the reported cases, households who experienced a land disputes approached someone to resolve the issue, generally the barangay captain or the other party. For non-land disputes, the respondent mostly approached the barangay captain. Land disputes were equally distributed between disputes with someone from the same clan, or someone from another clan but within the same ethnic group.

To further explore how disputes and conflicts were resolved, respondents were asked to identify whom they would go to resolve a range of hypothetical events. The results are as follows:

  • To address clan disputes, a majority of the respondents said they would consult with a Barangay official (38%), with the clan itself (26%), or with the family (13%). In Maguindanao, one in four respondents (23%) mentioned Shari’a courts.
  • To solve money disputes, over half the respondents mentioned aBarangayofficial (52%), while 25 percent indicated resolving such disputes themselves or within their family. Barangayofficials were least frequently mentioned in Maguindanao (33%). There the disputes were more frequently resolved within the family (40%).
  • For land disputes, respondents proposed to resolve the issue most frequently with a Barangay official (50%), as well as formal courts (17%). In Maguindanao, respondents also identified Shari’a courts (30%).
  • Fortheft, a majority of respondents indicated that they would consult with a Barangay official (65%), and 13 percent mentioned the police. In Maguindanao, 14 percent mentioned the MILF.
  • For crimes or actions that resulted in injuries, again Barangay officials were most frequently mentioned entity to resolve ensuing disputes (60%).
  • For rape and sexual violence, views were mixed, with 27 percent mentioning a Barangay official, 24 percent mentioning formal courts, and 24 percent mentioning the police. Shari’a courts were mentioned by 20 percent of the households in Maguindanao.
  • Similarly, for murder, views on who should be approached were mixed, with 27 percent mentioning the police, 25 percent mentioning Barangay officials, and 23 percent mentioning formal courts. Shari’a courts were mentioned by 19 percent of the households in Maguinadanao.[1]

These results suggest that AFP, MILF, and MNLF play a relatively limited in resolving disputes role, whereas Barangay officials, chiefly Barangay captains, are most often approached. They and traditional leaders were generally perceived as fair (both 89%). Only for the most serious crimes of rape and murder did a fairly significant number of respondents say they would approach the police (24% and 27%) or involve the formal court system (24% and 23%). Most respondents disagreed with the proposition that sometimes violence is the only way to resolve ridos, or that violence is an acceptable way to resolve disputes.

Domestic Violence

Households disputes were identified as the most common type of dispute in the survey area (59%), although a smaller proportion described such disputes as potentially violent (20%), and even fewer (2%) mentioned households disputes when asked if they had themselves experienced any dispute or conflict over the last year prior to the survey. A more direct set of questions explored the prevalence of domestic violence. Overall, 7 percent of the respondents indicated having been slapped or beaten violently by their spouse or partner in general, and 2 percent indicated it happened in the last 12 months prior to the survey. Similarly, 7 percent of the respondents indicated having themselves slapped or beaten their spouse or partner, and 2 percent reportedly did so in the last year prior to the survey. Women were slightly more likely than men to report having been slapped or beaten by a spouse or partner (8% vs. 6%). Across strata, the prevalence of such violence was highest in Cotabato City (13%) and North Cotabato (12%).


[1]The frequency at which Shari’a courts are identified to resolve serious crimes such as sexual violence and murder may reflect a lack of knowledge of their function and jurisdiction under Islamic law.