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    Philippine Territorial Claims: Problems and Prospects
    (Center for Philippine Studies, 1990-03-09) Colmenares, Serafin P Jr.
    This paper discusses two major territorial claims of the Philippines, such as the claim to Sabah, and the claim to the Kalayaan Islands. The author presents the problems encountered by the Philippine government in making these claims as they involve disputes with neighboring countries.
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    Boxing Day in Cotabato: Notes from the Field
    (Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, 2009-08-14T16:46:26Z) Barter, Shane Joshua
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    Muslim resistance in Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines : religion, ideology, and politics
    (Washington, D.C.: East-West Center Washington, 2006) Liow, Joseph Chin Yong
    This study analyzes the ongoing conflicts in southern Thailand and southern Philippines between indigenous Muslim minorities and their respective central governments. In particular, it investigates and interrogates the ideological context and content of conflicts in southern Thailand and southern Philippines insofar as they pertain to Islam and radicalism in order to assess the extent to which these conflicts have taken on a greater religious character and the implications this might have on our understanding of them. In the main, the monograph argues that while conflicts in southern Thailand and southern Philippines have taken on religious hues as a consequence of both local and external factors, on present evidence they share little with broader radical global Islamist and Jihadist ideologies and movements, and their contents and contexts remain primarily political, reflected in the key objective of some measure of self-determination, and local, in terms of the territorial and ideational boundaries of activism and agitation. Furthermore, though both conflicts appear on the surface to be driven by similar dynamics and mirror each other, they are different in several fundamental ways. About the AuthorJoseph Chinyong Liow is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. In 2005, he was a Southeast Asia Fellow at the East-West Center Washington, where this study was written.
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    The Moro conflict : landlessness and misdirected state policies
    (Washington, D.C.: East-West Center Washington, 2004) Gutierrez, Eric ; Borras, Saturnino M.
    The conflict in the southern Philippines is becoming increasingly complex, and untangling the knots for a greater understanding of the problem is no easy task. Yet underlying the many manifestations of a complex conflict is a straightforward political-economic explanation. This study represents a step toward a more systematic inquiry into the problem by developing a political-economic explanation of the conflict. It starts from two observations: first, the geographic areas in the southern Philippines where there is a significant if not a majority presence of Muslims are marked by a high incidence of poverty and social exclusion; second, there has been an alarming surge of "entrepreneurs in violence" in these areas determined to enforce their own nonstate systems of property relations. The study contends that these two observations result, to a significant degree, from the highly skewed distribution of ownership and control over land resources in the southern Philippines that should be traced back in the country's colonial history. Thus we argue that the continuing war, the persistence of poverty and landlessness, and the emergence of entrepreneurs in violence are mere symptoms of something that has not yet been sufficiently addressed by a succession of Philippine governments or even by mainstream Moro revolutionary organizations: the highly skewed distribution of land-ownership and control in the southern Philippines. This study posits that the widespread landlessness, the continuing weakness of state institutions in implementing agrarian reform and enforcing ancestral domain claims, as well as the absence of autonomous civil society, are fundamental issues whose resolution may well hold the key to establishing long-term peace in the southern Philippines. Redistributive land reform must be a major component of any comprehensive solution to the crisis. Such reform holds the promise of addressing issues of poverty and eliminates a major reason for the proliferation of entrepr4eneurs in violence. Several key propositions are put forward here. First, the eradication of poverty in the southern Philippines can offer poor Muslim households a workable alternative to joining the armed rebellion and the ranks of entrepreneurs in violence. Second, this process of poverty eradication must go beyond the current policy prescriptions of the central state and confront the issues of poverty and social exclusion from historical, social justice, and redistributive land reform perspectives. Third, in the context of agrarian societies like the southern Philippines, broad-based social development can only be achieved if there is a redistribution of productive assets, especially land. Land is central to the rural poor household's capacity to construct and maintain a sustainable livelihood. Fourth, policy discussions about the issue of ancestral domain of Muslim Filipinos must be intertwined with the issue of redistributive land reform and the ancestral domain claims of other indigenous communities (Lumads). And fifth, redistributive land reform and respect for indigenous claims over ancestral domains, as repeatedly emphasized by scholars, are a necessary but not sufficient requirement for broad-based social development. Equally important is a comprehensive package of support services to enable the rural poor to sustain their livelihoods. The policy propositions put forward here are broad outlines of possible options; the actual content of state policies may vary as long as the general principles underscored in this study are maintained. Whether these policy options are politically practical in the immediate context should be informed by further research on certain contentious issues identified in this study–how, for example, can autonomous social movements emerge in the context of the contemporary southern Philippines? The political-economic explanation advanced in this study does not necessarily contradict other interpretations of the conflict in the southern Philippines. Whether coming from the strictly "economic reform" perspective, the political-constitutional reform (federalist) framework, or, most radically, secession and the creation of a new Moro state, the fundamental issues raised here are likely to remain relevant. Peace building from below is necessary if only to ensure that agreements settled at the negotiating table can be properly implemented. There is no easy solution. Policies that focus attention only on strengthening state authority may be important but not sufficient; policies that focus attention only on building civil society are also crucial but incomplete. An interactive state/society policy framework may be more useful. The challenge is to attain a redistribution of wealth and power that favors the poor, largely through land redistribution and agrarian reform, alongside peace building to be generated from below as well as from above.
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    Forging sustainable peace in Mindanao : the role of civil society
    (Washington, D.C.: East-West Center Washington, 2005) Rood, Steven
    This study investigates the role of civil society in forging sustainable peace in Mindanao. It argues that civil society groups have the potential to make significant contributions to the management of the separatist conflict in the southern Philippines and in forging durable peace. Due to the inherent weakness of civil society groups, however, as well as other local and national conditions, their impact has been indirect, limited, and of little consequence to the macropolitical process. Nevertheless, the role of civil society in peacebuilding is important and should be developed. To this end, the study offers several recommendations to strengthen civil society, especially Muslim civil society, and deepen its interaction with the public at large (especially the Christian population) as well as local and national governments—all with a view to enhancing the key role that civil society groups can play in bringing about a lasting peace in Mindanao. There is an active peace movement in Mindanao that reflects the general strength of civil society in the Philippines as a whole as well as special efforts made to manage Mindanao conflicts over the years. Beginning in the 1970s under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and continuing to the present day, both Christian and Muslim groups have attempted to build avenues to manage hostilities. This study construes “civil society” to include a wide range of organizations—from development NGOs to church-based groups and business associations. All of these organizational types are in one way or another involved in efforts to manage the conflict in the southern Philippines. They not only network in various ways among themselves and with organizations in the capital, Manila, but have international linkages. This study describes this welter of entities and relationships. It also points out that Muslim civil society is, for a number of reasons, less developed than its Christian counterpart, leading to some imbalance in peace efforts. Other characteristics of civil society include ideological divisions among the groups, the transitory nature of networks, and the fact that they are overwhelmingly intracommunal, i.e. based either exclusively among Christians or among Muslims. Further, Christian groups active in the peace movement are not representative of the citizenry at large, which supports aggressive moves to achieve “victory” over Muslim insurgents. In this context, the study argues that civil society in Mindanao can contribute significantly in terms of managing the conflict and ultimately achieving lasting peace in Mindanao. A number of specific peace efforts are described here. Interreligious dialogue was started in the 1970s but accelerated in the 1990s. There is an asymmetry in the dialogue, however, given that Christianity is more organized than Islam and Christians have more distrust to overcome. Even more serious is the limited reach of such efforts at dialogue, even within the Catholic clergy. A second set of peace activities involves civil society helping local communities establish “spaces for peace” where combatants are requested to stay out of a particular locality. Known by several names, these local efforts are motivated by communities who wish to avoid the effects of further conflict. But spaces for peace are limited, too, inasmuch as various parties to conflict do not respect the provisions established by the communities. Finally, civil society has been involved directly in the peace process over the years. Civil society groups helped the new Arroyo government move toward peace in consultations leading up the August 2001 cessation of hostilities with the MILF, for instance. And they helped roll back the level of conflict by agitating for a restoration of the cease-fire in July 2003 after the Arroyo administration’s assault on the MILF’s Buliok complex. Civil society is officially represented on the Local Monitoring Teams established under the Cessation of Hostilities and also has its own parallel cease-fire monitoring process in Bantay Cease-fire (Cease-fire Watch). The latter has been praised by both government and the MILF for providing impartial public analysis of accusations of violations of the terms of the Cessation of Hostilities. Still, peace has not come to Mindanao and formal peace talks remain suspended. This is not surprising: civil society’s role is inevitably secondary to firm government and insurgent commitments to peace. In addition to specific weaknesses, the inherent difficulty of transcending specific interests to embrace a larger political agenda means that civil society’s impact on macropolitical processes is limited. Instead, civil society’s peace agitation tends to have indirect effects. Civil society can air discussion of the root causes of conflict; it can argue in the media and with policy elites against pursuing “victory” and in favor of developmental changes; and it can provide political space for government officials to maneuver toward a settlement. In short, the nature of civil society affects its impact on conflict management; the involvement of civil society can improve the chances for a lasting peace; but there are inherent limits to the impact that NGOs can have on peace—limitations that can only be overcome by state action. Despite these limitations and weaknesses, local and international civil society organizations can help bring about lasting peace in the region. To this end, the study makes several recommendations: Muslim civil society needs to be strengthened to rectify Muslim/Christian imbalances. Civil society networks involved in the peace movement should be strengthened to help transform them from shifting alliances into organizations capable of bringing Muslims and Christians together in a sustained fashion. Empirical work on the impact of various approaches (interreligious dialogue, peace zones, effects on citizen attitudes) should be used to help guide conflict management efforts. Conflict management must involve local governments—particularly given the decentralized nature of politics and administration in the Philippines. Civil society organizations must work with policy elites to reach the public at large, to expose citizens to issues involved in peace talks, and to win the hearts and minds of the Christian populace.