Could Militants in the Philippines Make a Comeback?

Apr 24, 2018 | 08:00 GMT

Philippine lawmakers continue to wrangle over passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, adding to political uncertainty in Mindanao that could help Islamist militias there redevelop their strength.

Soldiers being deployed to the frontline in June 2017 inside the besieged Marawi City.

(Jes Aznar/Getty Images)


  • Militant attacks, piracy and kidnapping continue to threaten the southern Philippines six months after the end of fighting in Marawi City.
  • Although that threat has diminished, slow movement on the political front gives the threat more time and space to grow.
  • Regional interconnectedness means that militant safe havens in the southern Philippines will continue to pose a threat to Malaysia and Indonesia.

Six months have passed since the Armed Forces of the Philippines officially wrapped up operations against Islamic State-aligned militants who had occupied Marawi City on the southern island of Mindanao. Liberating the southern provincial capital has yielded a significant peace dividend for the Philippine government. President Rodrigo Duterte continues to enjoy high popularity in the southern Philippines, local Moro leaders continue to support security forces in keeping the jihadist militant threat at bay, and despite anti-U.S. rhetoric emanating from Manila, cooperation with the United States on security matters has continued to grow. But the militant threat in the southern Philippines lingers, and underlying grievances driving the militancy remain largely unaddressed. At some point, the goodwill generated by the militants' defeat in Marawi City is going to run out, and the tenuous peace currently presiding over Mindanao will be tested over the next few months....

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