Bangsamoro election tensions will create new strings of conflict

Incidents of election fraud and violence in the Bangsamoro region in the Philippines have provoked a multitude of conflicts.

According to a post-election bulletin released by International Alert's Philippines, the violence around the recent elections created new strings of conflict. Altercations between rival politicians have sparked subsequent conflict between clans exacting revenge.

International Alert's critical events monitoring system (CEMS) captured 144 reports of election-related incidents from 11-13 May in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao including Cotabato City, parts of North Cotabato, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

CEMS is a real-time SMS-based monitoring platform used by International Alert and its early response network to disaster and conflict based in Marawi City.

Many of these incidents were spurred on by rival clans engaging in prolonged revenge killings.

Explosions and fistfights

According to International Alert’s post-election report, the election period saw fewer shooting incidents between rival candidates and supporters. Previously, such strife had been a staple of electoral battles. Instead, grenades and improvised explosive devices were deployed in an attempt to frighten voters while also occupying the police and military away from the polls. Despite the presence of security at the polls, there were at least 20 fistfights and physical altercations amongst the supporters of the candidates.

While in the past gun violence was most prevalent, lately, it seems explosions and physical brawls have taken hold. Much of this shift has occurred as a result of a rise in police and military power and control that started early this year during the referendum on the Bangsamoro Organic Law and continued up to election day.

In December 2018, Congress approved a 12-month extension of martial law in Mindanao after President Rodrigo Duterte pushed for the continuation of increased security measures - framing it as a means of mitigating extremist violence in the region.

Now, the question on everyone's mind is whether martial law will continue.

Feuds between clans, revenge killings, and extremist violence are expected to rise until a settlement on the carrying and use of firearms is collectively agreed upon by various groups including the security sector, leaders in the new Bangsamoro government, local government officials, traditional leaders, and civil society.

For now, it seems this discord will continue until a new consensus is met.

Read the full post-election bulletin here and the pre-election bulletin here.