Monitoring conflicts in the southern Philippines

We have launched a new monitoring system called Conflict Alert that allows conflicts to be analysed and compared in different regions in the southern Philippines.

Conflict Alert tracks violent conflict in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Davao and Caraga regions, which are all part of the Mindanao island group.

The system is the only regional conflict tracker that exists in the Philippines. It is an upgrade from the Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System (BCMS) that covered the ARMM and the cities of Cotabato and Isabela, and the Southern and Eastern Mindanao Conflict Database (SEMCD) that tracked the Davao and Caraga regions. These lie along Mindanao's southern and eastern corridor.

Although the BCMS was hailed as a pioneer of conflict monitoring in the Philippines, its geographic scope was limited. The SEMCD expanded the analysis of conflicts from one to three regions.

By combining these databases, Conflict Alert will improve our understanding of violence in the southern Philippines, which is a major site of rebellion, criminal violence, and shadow economy-based conflicts.

“With this new system, we can generate the evidence to check the incidence, causes and costs, and trends and directions of violent conflict. It will greatly help in policy making, development planning and peacebuilding for the areas covered”, said Francisco J. Lara Jr., our Country Manager in the Philippines.

Francisco J. Lara Jr. speaking at a packed launch event for Conflict Alert at the World Bank's Philippines office in October

The ARMM, Davao and Caraga regions comprise of 15 provinces and nearly half the population of Mindanao. They also occupy over half of Mindanao's total land area. The ARMM, the Philippines’ poorest region, hosts Moro rebels while the Davao and Caraga regions host communist insurgents. The government, led by new President Rodrigo Duterte, is currently in peace negotiations with both of these groups.

“Conflict Alert findings highlight the need to retire these rebellions. Political conflict, specifically rebellion, results in the highest number of conflict deaths among other causes of conflict. It also discourages investments and stunts development”, said Nikki Philline de la Rosa from our Philippines team.

The full findings have been published in our new Conflict Alert report, which can be downloaded here.

Nearly a hundred representatives from government agencies, non-government organisations, universities, donors, embassies, and businesses attended the launch of Conflict Alert. Among those present was the World Bank’s Country Director for the Philippines Mara K. Warwick, who said the organisation remained strongly committed to peace and development in conflict-affected areas of the country.

Hernani A. Braganza, a member of the government panel negotiating with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, also attended. He said the data will help to push for a bilateral ceasefire with communist rebels.

Conflict Alert is funded by the Korea Trust Fund for Economic and Peace-Building Transitions, the World Bank, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Royal Norwegian Government.

Find out more about our work in the Philippines and watch a video of Conflict Alert explained below.