BIPPI B's Independent Pro-Peace Initiative  

Secessionist insurgency in south Philippines – 1969/2008
updated at February 2008

Location of the Philippines

Geography of the Philippines

Administrative division of the Philippines

Source © Wikipedia

The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines, is an archipelagic nation located in Southeast Asia, with Manila as its capital city. The Philippine Archipelago comprises 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, of which only c. 400 are permanently inhabited.
The Philippines is among the world's most populous countries. There are more than 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide, about 11% of the total population.
The Philippines has many affinities with the Western world, derived mainly from the cultures of Spain, Latin America, and the United States. Roman Catholicism became the predominant religion, although the pre-Hispanic indigenous religious practices and Islam continue to flourish.


The confrontation between Philippine government and Muslim secessionists on the southern island of Mindanao, which began in 1969, have caused 120,000 deaths and displaced up to 2 million people.

The Mindanao conflict is deeply rooted in the colonial history of the country. Muslims arrived in the Philippines in the 13th century. Mindanao, the southernmost of the country's three regions, was ruled by Muslim sultanates well before Spanish Christians arrived in the second half of the 16th century, finding strong opposition to their rule in the Muslim area. When the Philippines passed from Spanish to American colonial rule at the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898, large areas of the Muslim south remained untouched. A process of forced economic and political integration started in the first decades of the 20th century. After independence, in 1946, the government encouraged Catholic settlers to move from the north to resource-rich Mindanao, displacing the comparatively poorer Muslim communities. 
The modern conflict flared at the end of the 1960s when the Muslim minority - known as the Moros - launched an armed struggle for their ancestral homeland in the south of Philippines, the so-called Bangsamoro.
But over the years, the Moro campaign for self-rule has become only one of several sources of bloodshed on Mindanao. These include a long Maoist insurgency, violence linked to militant Islamist groups with pan-Asian aspirations, bloody ethnic vendettas, clan wars and banditry.
In 1996 the government gave predominantly Muslim areas a low degree of self-rule, setting up the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which was generally considered an insufficient improvement.
Recently, significant progress has been made in peace negotiations with the two main Muslim separatist organisations, the MNFL and the MILF, but Mindanao and neighbouring islands remain an attractive refuge for radical jihadist groups.

Today more than 120,000 people remain uprooted by the fighting, an estimate considered to be conservative. 

Politics and religion aside, much of the violence is fuelled by deep poverty rooted in decades of under-investment.
Today poverty is considered at the same time a cause and a consequence of the war.
Estimates of economic losses due to the Mindanao conflict range from P5 billion to P10 billion annually from 1975 to 2002.

The Philippines has a representative democracy modelled on the US system. The 1987 constitution re-established a presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary. The president is limited to one six-year term. Provision also was made in the constitution for autonomous regions in Muslim areas of Mindanao and in the Cordillera region of northern Luzon, where many aboriginal tribes still live.
(Source: US Department of State)

The Philippines is divided into three island groups : Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. These are divided into 17 regions, 81 provinces, 131 cities, 1,497 municipalities, and 41,994 barangays.

On July 24, 2006, the State of the Nation Address of President Arroyo announced the proposal to create five economic super regions to concentrate on the economic strengths in a specific area.

Secessionist insurgency demanding
the formation of an independent Moro Islamic state in the southern portion of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago and Palawan.
Historically, the Moro people had settled the geographical areas we now describe as
Mindanao, the islands of Basilan and Palawan, and Sulu and Tawi-Tawi archipelago.

Read on
Moro people, Bangsamoro, the Sabah dispute and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

1) Philippines government, led in the last years by President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, mainly supported by US Army, Christian militias and pro-government Muslim militias.
2) Several Islamic groups acting with separate goals
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
Abu Sayyaf (ASG)
Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)
Al Qaeda-inspired groups (i.e. Rajah Soliman Movement, Abu Sofia, etc.)

« The first thing we need to do in order to understand the complex issue involved in the present Mindanao War is to distinguish the different Muslim actors. This is NOT a popular view, because from the Presidency to the people in the street, there is a natural proclivity to adopt a simplistic view of the complex issue and thus advocate for simplistic solution such as the prevailing "all out military solution" expressed in various slogans like: "final solution," "total war,"... »
By this words starts one of the many interesting articles on the conflict in Mindanao, which explain some aspects of such a complex matter.
Some articles are available here:
Mindanao Peace process (1996)
Important Considerations Regarding the War in Mindanao … (2001)
The Mindanao Peace Process (2004)
Philippines terrorism: the role of militant Islamic converts (2005)
“Radical Muslim Terrorism” in the Philippines (2006)

New People's Army (NPA) is a Maoist paramilitary group fighting for communist revolution in the Philippines.

Read on militias

According to Reuters AlertNet, an estimated 120,000 have died from the late 1960s (up to 50% of them were noncombatants) and, time by time, an estimated 2 million people were internally displaced.

In total, armed incidents have displaced between 119,600 and 139,600 people in Mindanao between January and September 2007
(Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre).

Read on internally displaced people

The Philippines government currently receives arms by USA and South Korea, according to ARMSFLOW.
Philippine military is accused by observers of igniting the conflict to promote military demands for updating their weaponry and equipment. British arms companies were poised to offer war materiel to the Philippine military.

Read on guerrilla warfare and arms industry


The conflict began in the late 1960s when a political organisation called MNLF began fighting for a Moro Muslim homeland (Bangsamoro), which includes the southern portion of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago and Palawan.

The struggle is rooted to the conflicts caused by Spanish and US colonisation, beginning in 1521. However, religion is but one difference, even if a large one, between the so-called Moro people and the rest of Filipinos. Culture, language, and tradition are also divisive.

On a larger scale, the Muslim insurgency in the Philippines is an outgrowth of the division of the Malay Archipelago by European and American colonial powers. The colonies that became the nations of Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand lumped together and split indigenous peoples of hundreds of languages and cultures into modern western-like nations, trying to assimilate them into "nationalities." There is no doubt that all of these indigenous groups have suffered immeasurably to avoid destruction of their culture, language, and livelihood.
At its root, the Moro insurgency is a struggle against the “historical and systematic marginalization and minoritization of the Islamized ethno-linguistic groups, collectively called Moros, in their own homeland in the Mindanao islands”. From 76 percent of the Mindanao population in 1903, Muslim groups accounted for no more than 19 percent in 1990
The conflict might be viewed as a clash between two imagined nations or nationalisms, Filipino and Moro, each with their own narratives of the conflict.

Politics, history and religion aside, it must be said that much of the present violence is fuelled by deep poverty rooted in decades of under-investment in the region.

Early history
The Negritos are believed to have migrated to the Philippines by land bridges some 30,000 years ago from Borneo, Sumatra, and Malaya. The Malays followed in successive waves. These people belonged to a primitive epoch of Malayan culture, which has apparently survived to this day among certain groups such as the Igorots. The Malayan tribes that came later had more highly developed material cultures.

The term Negrito refers to a small-statured, dwindling ethnic group which is now restricted to isolated parts of Southeast Asia. Negritos are arguably the most enigmatic people on our planet as they belong to an ancient stratum of Homo sapiens in Asia. No other living human population has experienced such long-lasting isolation from contact with other groups. [1] Their current populations include the Aeta, Ati and at least 25 other tribes of the Philippines, the Semang of the Malay peninsula, the Mani of Thailand and 12 Andamanese tribes of the Andaman Islands.

"Negrito" is the Spanish diminutive of negro, i.e. "little black person", referring to their small stature, and was coined by early European invaders and explorers who assumed that the Negritos were from Africa. Occasionally, some Negritos are referred to as pygmies, bundling them with peoples of similar physical stature in Central Africa.

The Malay people are believed to have originated in Borneo and then expanded outwards into Sumatra and later into the Malay Peninsula.

The social and political organization of the population, in the widely scattered islands, evolved into a generally common pattern. Only the permanent-field rice farmers of northern Luzon had any concept of territoriality. The basic unit of settlement was the barangay, originally a kinship group headed by a datu (chief). Within the barangay, the broad social divisions consisted of the maharlika (nobles), including the datu; timawa (freemen); and a group described before the Spanish period as dependents. Dependents included several categories with differing status: landless agricultural workers; those who had lost freeman status because of indebtedness or punishment for crime; and alipin (slaves), most of whom appear to have been war captives.

The Philippines had cultural and trade relations with India, China, and Islamic merchants as early as the 9th century.

In the 13th century Arab traders from Malay, Borneo and the Indonesian islands started introducing Islam into the southern islands. By the 13th century, Islam was established in the Sulu Archipelago and spread from there to Mindanao; it had reached the area of modern Manila by 1565. Although Islam spread as far north as Luzon, animism was still the religion of the majority of the Philippine islands. Muslim immigrants introduced a political concept of territorial states ruled by rajas or sultans who exercised suzerainty over the datu. Neither the political state concept of the Muslim rulers nor the limited territorial concept of the sedentary rice farmers of Luzon, however, spread beyond the areas where they originated.

Before the arrival of the Spanish colonialists the Bangsamoro was already in the process of state formation and governance. In the middle of the 15th century Sultan Shariff ul-Hashim established the Sulu Sultanate followed by the establishment of the Magindanaw Sultanate in the early part of the 16th century by Shariff Muhammad Kabungsuwan. Their experience on state formation continued with the establishment of the Sultanate of Buayan, the Pat a Pangampong ko Ranao (Confederation of the Four Lake-based Emirates) and other political institutions. These states were already engaged in trade and diplomatic relations with other countries, including China. Administrative and political systems based on the realities of the time existed in those states. In fact, it was with the existence of this well-organized administrative and political system that the Bangsamoro people managed to survive the military campaigns against them by Western colonial powers for several centuries and preserve their identity as a political and social entity.

When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, an estimated 500,000 people lived in the Philippines area.

The first Europeans to visit (1521) the Philippines were those in the Spanish expedition around the world led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Other Spanish expeditions followed, including one from New Spain (Mexico) under López de Villalobos, who in 1542 named the islands for the infante Philip, later Philip II.

Spanish colonisation
The conquest of the Filipinos by Spain did not begin in earnest until 1564, when another expedition from New Spain, commanded by Miguel López de Legazpi, arrived. Spanish leadership was soon established by violence and destruction over many small independent communities that previously had known no central rule.
By 1571
, López de Legazpi established the Spanish city of Manila on the site of a Moro town he had conquered the year before to the Tagalog
Muslim king, Rajah Suliman. Then the Spanish foothold in the Philippines was secure, despite the opposition of the Portuguese, who were eager to maintain their monopoly on the trade of East Asia.

Manila repulsed the attack of the Chinese pirate Limahong in 1574. For centuries before the Spanish arrived the Chinese had traded with the Filipinos, but evidently none had settled permanently in the islands until after the conquest. Chinese trade and labor were of great importance in the early development of the Spanish colony, but the Chinese came to be feared and hated because of their increasing numbers, and in 1603 the Spanish murdered thousands of them (later, there were lesser massacres of the Chinese).

The Spanish governor, made a Viceroy in 1589, ruled with the advice of the powerful royal audiencia. There were frequent uprisings by the Filipinos, who resented the encomienda system.

The encomienda system was a trusteeship labor system employed by the Spanish crown during the Spanish colonization of the Americas and the Philippines in order to consolidate their conquests. Conquistadors were granted trusteeship over the indigenous people they conquered, in an expansion of familiar medieval feudal institutions. The maximum size of an encomienda was three hundred Amerindians, although they were usually much smaller. The encomenderos were similar to feudal lords in that they were entitled to demand tribute from the people under their care in the form of specie, kind, or corvee, but differed in that they were not given juridical authority. In exchange for the right to collect this tribute, the encomenderos were charged with maintaining order through an established military and providing instruction in Catholicism. As European disregard for the Amerindians led to widespread corruption and abuses, the system that was intended to assist in the evangelization of the Natives and the establishment of a stable society became a force for oppression and enslavement. Although the Crown reserved the right to revoke an encomienda from the hands of an unjust encomendero, it rarely did.

By the end of the 16th century Manila had become a leading commercial center of East Asia, carrying on a flourishing trade with China, India, and the East Indies. The Philippines supplied some wealth (including gold) to Spain, and the richly laden galleons plying between the islands and New Spain were often attacked by English freebooters. There was also trouble from other quarters, and the period from 1600 to 1663 was marked by continual wars with the Dutch, who were laying the foundations of their rich empire in the East Indies, and with Moro pirates. One of the most difficult problems the Spanish faced was the subjugation of the Moros. Intermittent campaigns were conducted against them but without conclusive results until the middle of the 19th cent.

The term “Moro” was the appellation applied to all the Muslim population of Southeast Asia by the Portuguese who seized Melaka in 1511. The Moros are today a multilingual ethnic group and they mostly live in a region dubbed as Bangsamoro in the southern Philippines. Bangsamoro was originally home to the Muslim sultanates of Mindanao (such as Maguindanao and Sulu).

Although Spain claimed the territories of Moros prior to the Spanish-American War, the Spanish had little actual control over the area. The staunchly Muslim sultanates of the Sulus and Mindanao fiercely resisted Spanish colonial rule and consequent attempts at forcible conversion to Catholicism, and were therefore not fully integrated with the rest of the islands. In the face of this stiff resistance, the Spanish were restricted to a handful of coastal garrisons, and they made only occasional punitive expeditions into the interior. After a series of less-than-successful attempts during the centuries of Spanish rule in the Philippines, Spanish forces captured the city of Jolo, the seat of the Sultan of Sulu, in 1876. The Spanish and the Sultan of Sulu signed the Spanish Treaty of Peace on July 22, 1878. Control of the Sulus outside of the Spanish garrisons was left in the hands of the Sultan. The treaty had translation errors: According to the Spanish language version, Spain had complete sovereignty over the Sulus, while the Tausug version described a protectorate instead of an outright dependency.

As the power of the Spanish Empire waned, the Jesuit orders became more influential in the Philippines and acquired great amounts of property, while the sultanate was taken by internal struggles and international claims, aiming to keep as much power as possible more than to protect the people.
he power of the clergy together Spanish injustices, bigotry, and economic oppressions fed the rising sentiment for independence, greatly inspired by the brilliant writings of José Rizal.

José Rizal is considered a national hero and the anniversary of Rizal's death is commemorated as a Philippine holiday called Rizal Day. He was a member of a wealthy mestizo family but he felt limited by Spanish insistence on promoting only "pure-blooded" Spaniards. He began his political career at the University of Madrid in 1882 where he became the leader of Filipino students there. For the next ten years he traveled in Europe and wrote several novels considered seditious by Filipino and Church authorities. He returned to Manila in 1892 and founded La Liga Filipina, a political group dedicated to peacefully unite the whole archipelago into one vigorous and homogenous organization. He was rapidly exiled to Mindanao. During his absence, Andrés Bonifacio and other members of the Liga founded the revolutionary organization Katipunan, dedicated to the violent overthrow of Spanish rule. When the Philippine Revolution started on August 26, 1896, Rizal was convicted of rebellion, sedition and of forming illegal association, condemned and shot dead at Bagumbayan Field.

Andrés Bonifacio y de Castro is regarded as the "Father of the Philippine Revolution" and one of the most influential national heroes of his country, eventually given the title of Supremo.. Born to a Tagalog father and a Spanish mestiza mother, he was a clerk before becoming a nationalist leader and poet.
Just before the Revolution broke out, he formed a revolutionary government called "Republika ng mga Katagalugan" with himself as the president. But his personal campaigns were less than successful; he lost all his battles and all led to heavy casualties and massacres. The revolutionaries, led by officers coming from the upper classes as the celebrated Emilio Aguinaldo, had greater success in Cavite, temporarily driving the Spanish out of the area. Thus, they sent out a manifesto calling for a revolutionary government of their own, disregarding Bonifacio's leadership.
Bonifacio's birthday on November 30 is celebrated as Bonifacio Day and is a public holiday in the Philippines.

Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy was a Filipino general, politician, and independence leader, who played an instrumental role in Philippine independence during the Philippine Revolution against Spain and the Philippine-American War that resisted American occupation. In the Philippines, Aguinaldo is considered to be the country's first and the youngest Philippine President, though his government failed to obtain any foreign recognition.

The Philippine Revolution followed the creation of La Liga Filipina and the Katipunan.
In 1895
, Emilio Aguinaldo joined the Katipunan rebellion as a lieutenant under Gen. Baldomero Aguinaldo and rose to the rank of general in a few months. When, in 1896, 30,000 members of the Katipunan launched an attack against the Spanish colonizers in the same week, only Emilio Aguinaldo's troops were successfull.
Bonifacio presided over the Tejeros Convention in Tejeros, Cavite (deep in Aguinaldo territory) to elect a revolutionary government in place of the Katipunan on March 22, 1897. Away from his power base, Bonifacio unexpectedly lost the leadership to Aguinaldo, and was elected instead to the office of Secretary of the Interior.

Even the election of Bonifacio as Secretary of the Interior was questioned by an Aguinaldo supporter, claiming Bonifacio had not the necessary schooling for the job. Insulted, Bonifacio declared the Convention null and void, and sought to return to his power base in Rizal. Bonifacio was charged, tried and found guilty of treason (in absentia) by a Cavite military tribunal. As a consequense he was sentenced to death. Aguinaldo's soldiers caught up with Bonifacio in the town of Indang. They surrounded the house and asked Bonifacio and his men to disarm and come out peacefully but Bonifacio refused and violence followed, during which the Supremo was wounded. Then Aguinaldo confirmed the death sentence, and the dying Bonifacio was hauled to the mountains of Maragondon in Cavite, and executed on May 10, 1897, even as Aguinaldo and his forces were retreating in the face of government troops augmented by new recruits from Spain.

The new Spanish Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera declared, "I can take Biak-na-Bato. Any army can capture it. But I cannot end the rebellion". Then he offered peace to the revolutionaries. Lawyer Pedro Paterno volunteered as negotiator between the two sides. For four months, he travelled between Manila and Biak-na-Bato. His hard work finally bore fruit when, on December 14-15, 1897, the Pact of Biak-na-Bato was signed, which specified that the Spanish would give self-rule to the Philippines within 3 years if Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was exiled. In accordance with the pact, Aguinaldo and twenty five other top officials of the revolution were banished to Hong Kong with 400,000 pesos in their pockets, that they subsequently used to buy weapons to resume the fight, while the rest of the men got 200,000 pesos.
However, thousands of other Katipuneros continued to fight the Revolution against Spain for a sovereign nation. Unlike Aguinaldo who came from a privileged background, the bulk of these fighters were peasants and workers who were not willing to settle for 'indemnities.' 

American colonisation
On April 25, 1898, war broke out between Spain and the United States, the so-called the Spanish-American War. The United States relied greatly on assistance from Filipino revolutionaries led by Emilio Aguinaldo, who already controlled much of the countryside and had proclaimed a Philippine republic when American troops arrived in large numbers in July. Americans negotiated Spain’s surrender of Manila in August, as the war ended. But, instead of liberating the Philippines from Spanish domination, the United States chose to annex the islands and begin building an American empire.

Following declaration of war, Commodore George Dewey sailed from Hong Kong with Emilio Aguinaldo on board, in the hope he would rally Filipinos against the Spanish colonial government. Fighting began in the Philippine islands at the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, where Commodore Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet. However, he did not have enough manpower to capture Manila and so Aguinaldo's guerrillas made the big job and took control of the entire island of Luzon, except for the walled city of Intramuros. On June 12, 1898, Aguinaldo declared the independence of the Philippines. Then 15,000 US troops arrived at the end of July. Although a peace protocol was signed by the two belligerents on August 12, Commodore Dewey and Maj. Gen. Wesley Merritt, leader of the army troops, assaulted Manila the very next day, unaware that peace had broken out, and captured the city. This battle marked an end of Filipino-American collaboration, as Filipino forces were prevented from entering the captured city of Manila, an action which was deeply resented by the Filipinos and which later led to the Philippine-American War.

On June 12, 1898, Filipino revolutionary forces under General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed the sovereignty and independence of the Philippines from the colonial rule of Spain. The formal Philippine Declaration of Independence  proclamed by the Dictatorial Government of the Philippines of Emilio Aguinaldo essentially placed the Philippines under the protection of the United States, so that it was later modified by another proclamation. The dictatorial government then in place was replaced by a revolutionary government headed by Emilio Aguinaldo as president on June 23, 1898.
The First Philippine Republic, officially República Filipina was established on January 23, 1899, with the proclamation of the Malolos Constitution.
Then Aguinaldo and his men fled to Northern Luzón, trying to resist the American occupation. The US combined tactics of pacification and social improvement with brutal military strikes and finally Aguinaldo was captured on March 23, 1901.
On April 1, 1901, Aguinaldo announced allegiance to the United States, formally ending the First Republic and the Philippine-American War, recognizing the sovereignty of the United States over the Philippines. Some non-organized hostilities continued anyway until the battle Bud Bagsak in 1913.

The Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898, ending the Spanish-American War only 109 days after the outbreak. Spain ceded to the US, for $20 million, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Caroline Islands, Guam and  the entire Philippines, despite the controversial situation created in 1878 with the Sultan of Sulu concerning protectorate or dependency of the Moro territories. Included in this cession were the territories of Mindanao and Sulu, which actually had not been in full Spanish control. About two years later, on November 7, 1900, the US paid an additional $100,000 to Spain to include in the 1898 cession the Sulu islands stretching as far west as Sibutu and Cagayan de Sulu.

Following the Treaty of Paris, the Americans asked the Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram II, to recognize the US in the place of Spain, and honor the 1878 provisions of the treaty, which the Sultan had signed with Spain. As first, the Sultan refused, stating that the US was a different entity. But the Sultan was not supported by his ruling council and after few months he had to concede to the Americans. 

In place of the Spanish treaty, the Sultan presented Brig. General John Bates with a 16-point proposal.
The proposal allowed the US to fly its flag side by side with the Sultanate's and required the US to continue monthly payments to the Sultan and his datus. The US was not to occupy any of the land without the permission of the Sultan.
The Sultan's proposal was rejected by Bates, because it did not acknowledge US sovereignty.
Bates then countered with his 15-point proposal, which included the recognition of US sovereignty over Sulu and its dependencies, the guarantee of non-interference with Moro religion and customs and a pledge that the "US will not sell the island of Jolo or any other island of the Sulu Archipelago to any foreign nation without the consent of the Sultan."
The sultan resisted Bates's offer for several months, but he could not get unanimous support from his ruma bichara (ruling council) to press for his demands to the Americans. Because of this internal dissension, led by his own prime minister and adviser Hadji Butu and two of his top ranking datus, Datu Jolkanairn and Datu Kalbi, the sultan conceded to the Americans. Officially, Hadji Butu cooperated with the Americans and "advised his people to accept American rule, for the sake of peace and to prevent unnecessary loss of lives and property in Sulu" (Senate of the Philippines).
In February 1899, Aguinaldo led a new revolt, this time against US rule. Defeated on the battlefield, the Filipinos turned to guerrilla warfare.
On May 19, 1899, while the forces of the First Philippine Republic under President Emilio Aguinaldo were resisting the American invaders, two American battalions occupied Jolo. The following month, on August 20, Hadji Butu, representing Sultan Jamalul Kiram II, concluded a treaty with General John C. Bates. According to this so-called “Bates Treaty,” the Sultan of Sulu recognized American sovereignty and, in return, the United states recognized the sultanate as an American protectorate and agreed to respect the Islamic religion and customs (including polygamy and slavery) of the Taosug people and not to cede or sell Sulu or any part of it to any foreign country.
This treaty was based on the earlier Spanish treaty, and it retained the translation error: the English version described a complete dependency, while the Tausug version described a protectorate.
Article I of the Treaty in the Tausug version states "The support, aid, and protection of the Jolo Island and Archipelago are in the American nation," whereas the English version read "The sovereignty of the United States over the whole Archipelago of Jolo and its dependencies is declared and acknowledged."

Although the Bates Treaty granted more powers to the Americans than the original Spanish treaty, the treaty was still criticized in America for granting too much autonomy to the Sultan, particularly concerning the practice of slavery.
The Bates Treaty did not last very long. After the US had completed its goal of suppressing the resistance in northern Philippines, it unilaterally abrogated the Bates Treaty on March 2, 1904, claiming the Sultan had failed to quell Moro resistance and that the treaty was a hindrance to the effective colonial administration of the area. Payments to the Sultan and his datus were also stopped.
Bates later admitted that the treaty was merely a stop-gap measure, signed only to buy time the war in the north was ended and more forces could be brought to bear in the south.

On October 10, 1904, Hadji Butu was appointed by the American military authorities as assistant to the Military Governor of the province.
Subsequently, on June 20, 1913, General John J. Pershing (Military Governor of the Moro Province) promoted him as Deputy District Governor of Sulu.
In December, 1915, Hadji Butu was appointed by Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison as senator, representing the 12st Senatorial District (Mindanao and Sulu). He was thus the first Muslim to sit in the Philippine Senate.
Hadji Butu proved to be an able parliamentarian so that he was re-appointed senator by Governor-General Henry L. Stimson in 1928.

Many Americans strongly opposed this new trend of imperialism and the annexion of the new territories hardly passed in the Congress. Then Theodore Roosevelt became the twenty-sixth US president after the assassination of William McKinley in 1901. Roosevelt strongly supported American expansionism, and increased the size of the military to implement it. His policy was epitomized in the phrase, “Speak softly, but carry a big stick."
On July 4, 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt issued a proclamation declaring an end to the Philippine Insurrection and a cessation of hostilities in the Philippines "except in the country inhabited by the Moro tribes, to which this proclamation does not apply."

On June 1, 1903, the Moro Province was created, which included "all of the territory of the Philippines lying south of the eighth parallel of latitude, excepting the island of Palawan and the eastern portion of the northwest peninsula of Mindanao". English was declared the official language. Six hundred American teachers were imported aboard the USS Thomas. Although a Filipino was always appointed chief justice, the majority of the members of the Supreme Court were Americans. Also, the Catholic Church was disestablished, and a substantial amount of church land was purchased and redistributed. Some measures of Filipino self-rule were allowed, however. The province had a civil government, but many civil service positions, including the district governors and their deputies, were held by members of the American military. This system of combined civil and military administration had several motivations behind it.‭ ‬One was the continued Moro hostilities.‭ ‬Another was the Army's experience during the Indian Wars,‭ ‬when it came into conflict with the civilian Bureau of Indian Affairs.‭ ‬A third was that the Moros,‭ ‬with their feudal society,‭ ‬would have no respect for a military leader who submitted to the authority of a non-combatant.‭
Although determined to impose direct rule, the US Army moved cautiously to avoid encouraging widespread Moro opposition. The US Government preferred that the Army take control without the bloodshed that had characterized the recently concluded war against Filipino nationalists. The Philippine Commission announced that the United States would not interfere with tribal organization and culture, and US officials made it clear they would not seek to convert the Moros to Christianity
But the new Governor of the Moro Province, Major General Leonard Wood, had to face the Moro propensity for blood feuds, polygamy, and human trafficking. He wanted to bring them the American "high ideals of civilization" as soon as possible. (Andrew J. Bacevich, What happened at Bud Dajo, The Boston Globe, March 12, 2006).
He instituted many reforms:

  • On Woods' recommendation, the United States unilaterally abrogated the Bates Treaty, citing continuing piracy and attacks on American personnel. The Sultan of Sulu was demoted to a purely religious office, with no more power than any other datu, and was provided with a small salary. The United States assumed direct control over Moroland. 

  • Slavery was abolished. Slave trading and raiding were repressed, but slaves were left with their owners. Wood announced that slaves were "at liberty to go and build homes for themselves wherever they like[d]," and pledged the military's protection for any former slaves that did so. Similar actions had been taken by individual commanders in the past, but Wood's edict had the backing of the Moro Council, giving it more permanent weight.

  • The Cedula Act of 1903 created an annual registration poll tax. This registration poll tax was highly unpopular with the Moros, since they interpreted it as a form of tribute. According to Hurley, participation in the Cedula was very low as late as 1933.

  • The legal code of Moroland was reformed. Disputes between Moros and non-Christians had been left to Moro laws and customs, with Philippine laws only applying to disputes with Christians. This led to a double standard, with a Moro who killed a Christian facing a stiff prison sentence, but with a Moro who killed another Moro facing only a maximum fine of 150 pesos. Wood attempted to codify Moro law, but there was simply too much variance in laws and customs between the different tribes and even between neighboring cottas. Wood placed the Moros underneath the Philippine criminal code, but actual enforcement of this proved difficult.

  • Private land ownership was introduced, in order to help the Moros transition to a more individualistic society from their traditional tribal society. Each family was given 40 acres (16 ha) of land, with datus given additional land in accordance with their status. Land sales had to be approved by the district governments in order to prevent fraud.

  • An educational system was established. By June 1904, there were 50 schools with an average enrollment of 30 students each. Because of difficulties in getting teachers that spoke native languages, classes were conducted in English after initial training in that language. Many Moros were suspicious of the schools, but some offered buildings for use as schools.

  • Trade was encouraged in order to give the Moros an alternative to fighting. Trade had been discouraged by banditry, piracy, and the possibility of inter-tribal disputes between Moro merchants and local customers. When trading with foreign merchants, a lack of warehousing made for a buyer's market, leading to low prices. Wood handled banditry and piracy by establishing military posts at river mouths in order to protect sea and land routes. Starting with a pilot project in Zamboanga, a system of Moro Exchanges were established. These exchanges provided Moro traders with warehouses and temporary housing in exchange for honoring a ban on fighting within the exchange. Bulletin-boards listed market prices in Hong Kong and Singapore, and the district governments guaranteed fair prices. These Exchanges proved highly successful and profitable, and provided a neutral ground for feuding datus to settle their differences.

Not surprisingly, Wood’s policies met with increased opposition. The elimination of slavery and the traditional legal code struck directly at the power of the datus, and some of them decided to take up arms against the Americans. Other Moros chose to resist for religious reasons, fearing the Americans would eventually demand that they convert to Christianity. The Cedula Act also created intense resentment among many Moros who saw compliance as a form of tribute to a non-Islamic government. 
On the other hand, the cultural difference between Americans and Moros was too big and the mentality of Indian Wars ("the only good Indian is a dead Indian", US Gen. Philip Sheridan, 1869) easily came to Philippines. "Civilize 'em with a Krag" became a similar catchphrase (the Krag was the rifle used at that time by the US Army)

The Moro rebellion took several forms even if the American occupation forces did not face a unified insurgency or nationalistic movement, but rather the forces of individual datus who refused to accept American control as well as localized popular uprisings.
Some Moros, especially on heavily forested Mindanao, practiced guerrilla warfare, raiding US encampments for weapons and setting ambushes on jungle trails. The most unnerving form of Moro resistance was the juramentado, or suicide attack. A juramentado attacker would seek to reach paradise by slaying as many nonbelievers as possible before being killed himself. Such attacks were not common, but they occurred often enough to keep the Americans on edge.
The Moro rebellion was an ugly war, poorly armed Moro warriors against seasoned US Army regulars. The Moro weapon of choice was the kris, a short sword with a wavy blade; the Americans used Springfield rifles and field guns. Obviously, the Americans never lost an engagement. Yet even as they demolished one Moro stronghold after another and wracked up an impressive body count, the fighting persisted.
Modern Muslim inhabitants of the southern Philippines see the Moro Rebellion as one phase of a continuing struggle against non-Muslim influences, the Spanish, the Americans, and the central government of the Philippines.

To keep full control of the Moro territory, Wood engaged in strong military actions against the rebels but the usual result of the indiscriminate firing by US soldiers was the killing of women and children and burning houses and crops. Any punitive expeditions left people without homes or food, children without parents, clans without leaders, and contributed to the breakdown of the Moro social order.
A long chain of events brought to the First Battle of Bud Dajo, in which 790 American troops armed with artillery and rifles attacked a village of rebels hidden in the crater of the dormant volcano Bud Dajo, killing 600 up to 1,000 men, women and children and suffering as many as 18 casualties.
Although the battle was a victory for the American forces, it was also an unmitigated public relations disaster

In late 1905, hundreds of Moros-determined to avoid paying the cedula head tax, which they considered blasphemous-began, took refuge on the peak of Bud Dajo, a volcanic crater on the island of Jolo, in the Southern Philippines.
Refusing orders to disperse, they set themselves up as ''patriots". In response Wood dispatched several battalions of infantry to Bud Dajo with orders to ''clean it up." On March 5, 1906, the reinforcements arrived and laid siege to the heights. The next day, they began shelling the crater with artillery. At daybreak on March 7, the final assault commenced, the Americans working deliberately along the rim of the crater and firing into the pit.  When the action finally ended some 24 hours later, the extermination of as many as 1,000 Filipino Muslims had been accomplished. Only six of them survived in front of 15 to 18 American casualties.
Among the dead laid several hundred women and children.

On February 1, 1906, Major Gen. Tasker H. Bliss replaced Wood as Governor of Moro Province. He preferred diplomacy to coercion and opened a "peace era," at the price of tolerating a certain amount of lawlessness. His new reforms reduced crime and promote agriculture and trade but law enforcement in the Moro Province remained difficult.  An elected Filipino legislature was established in 1907.
In 1909 Bliss was replaced by Brigadier General John J. Pershing, who largely adhered to the policies Bliss had put in place and didn't practice collective punishment. But his 1911 decision to disarm the population enraged many Moros and opened a new period of conflict. In late 1911 about 800 Moros fled to the old battleground of Bud Dajo to make a stand but Pershing succeeded in dispersing them ("only" 12 Moro were killed), thanks to a patient approach and to the cooperation of some Moro leaders.
In 1913 thousands of Moros moved to the fortified crater of Bud Bagsak in eastern Jolo to defy the disarmament policy. Pershing tried to negotiate a pacific solution but a group of around 500 remained in their stronghold and refused to surrender their weapons. Unwilling to accept such open defiance and under pressure to end the insurgency, Pershing ordered an attack on Bud Bagsak that resulted in the deaths of almost all the Moros who were there, including as many as 50 women and children

During the Moro Rebellion, the Americans suffered clear cut losses, amounting to 130 killed and 323 wounded. Another 500 or so died of disease. The Philippine Scouts who augmented American forces during the campaign suffered 116 killed and 189 wounded. The Philippine Constabulary, a local police force, suffered heavily as well, more than 1,500 losses sustained, half of which fatalities. On the Moro side, losses were remarkably high, with several thousand killed and wounded. Estimates range from 10,000 to well over 20,000 killed, with an unknown number of wounded. (Wikipedia, Moro rebellion)

The battles at places like Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak long ago faded from the consciousness of Americans—in fact, they were not much noticed by Americans even at the time. Among the Moros, however, the US campaigns were of major importance. The high Moro death tolls resulting from US military operations contributed to the development of an anti-US sentiment that continues today. That sentiment became obvious in February 2003 when the Philippine Government announced it would participate in Operation Balikatan, a joint exercise with the United States on Jolo. The government’s announcement provoked loud condemnations from many Filipinos, including nationalists who feared the United States would use the exercise as a way to become directly involved in combat against the Islamic groups, a role they said the Philippines Constitution prohibited. Equally significant was the reaction of the residents of Jolo. A journalist visiting the island shortly after the announcement reported an outpouring of opposition to the idea of US troops arriving. A banner in the island’s main port read, “We will not let history repeat itself! Yankee back off.” The island’s radio station played traditional ballads with new lyrics: “We heard the Americans are coming and we are getting ready. We are sharpening our swords to slaughter them when they come. . . . Our ancestors are calling for revenge.”25 In the face of growing opposition, the Philippine Government canceled the exercises on Jolo.26 For the Moros, whose ballads and storytelling keep events of the past alive, the US military’s occupation a century before remains a source of ill will toward the United States.
(Charles Byler, Pacifying the Moros: American Military Government in the Southern Philippines, 1899-1913 in

When Woodrow Wilson became US President in 1913, there was a major change in official American policy concerning the Philippines. While the previous Republican administrations had predicted the Philippines as a perpetual American colony, the Wilson administration decided to start a process that would slowly lead to Philippine independence. US administration of the Philippines was declared to be temporary and aimed to develop institutions that would permit and encourage the eventual establishment of a free and democratic government. Therefore, US officials concentrated on the creation of such practical supports for democratic government as public education and a sound legal system. The Philippines were granted free trade status, with the US

The question of Philippine independence remained a burning issue in the politics of both the United States and the islands. The matter was complicated by the growing economic ties between the two countries. Although comparatively little American capital was invested in island industries, US trade bulked larger and larger until the Philippines became almost entirely dependent upon the American market. Free trade, established by an act of 1909, was expanded in 1913.

After 1913, civilians replaced US Army officers in positions in the provincial government, and most US soldiers withdrew. Fighting between Moros and government forces virtually ceased, in part because the disarmament policy had removed thousands of weapons from the province. Perhaps more important, the Moros became more supportive of US rule as the prospects for independence for the Philippines increased; they realized that independence would probably mean their lands would fall under the control of the hated Christian Filipinos.

When the US Government promised to grant independence to the Philippines, the Bangsamoro leaders registered their strong objection to be part of the Philippine Republic. In the petition to the US President dated June 9, 1921, the people of the Sulu archipelago said that they would prefer being part of the US rather than to be included in an independent Philippine nation (See Appendix C, Jubair 1999). Bangsamoro leaders meeting in Zamboanga on February 1, 1924, proposed in their Declaration of Rights and Purposes that the "Islands of Mindanao and Sulu, and the Island of Palawan be made an unorganized territory of the United States of America" in anticipation that in the event the US would decolonize its colonies and other non-self governing territories the Bangsamoro homeland would be granted separate independence.

Pershing was replaced as governor of Moro Province by a civilian, Frank Carpenter

Though the bloody campaigns against the Moros officially ended in 1915, US troops continued to encounter sporadic Moro attacks for the next two decades. 
Governor Frank Carpenter asked the Sultan, his heirs, and his council to sign another agreement with the US on March 22, 1915, asking the Sultan and his heirs to abdicate their claims to the throne.  Implementation of the 1915 Agreement was further delayed by negotiations over what the sultan and his heirs would receive in exchange for their giving up their temporal powers.  

In 1916, the Philippine Autonomy Act, popularly known as the Jones Law, was passed by the US Congress. The law which served as the new organic act (or constitution) for the Philippines, stated in its preamble that the eventual independence of the Philippines would be American policy, subject to the establishment of a stable government. The law maintained the Governor General of the Philippines, appointed by the President of the United States, but established a bicameral Philippine Legislature to replace the elected Philippine Assembly (lower house) and appointive Philippine Commission (upper house) previously in place. The Filipino House of Representatives would be purely elected, while the new Philippine Senate would have the majority of its members elected by senatorial district with senators representing non-Christian areas appointed by the Governor-General. Elections happened on October 3, 1916.

The negotiations which concluded in May 1919 gave the sultan a life-time payment of P12,000 per annum and allowed him and his heirs the usufruct use of public lands. Carpenter was confident that with the settlement final, the sultan would now cooperate with the US by fully recognizing US sovereignty over Sulu.

When the Republicans regained power in US in 1921, the trend toward bringing Filipinos into the government was reversed. Gen. Leonard Wood, former Governor of the Moro province and responsible of the Moro Crater Massacre, was appointed governor-general. He largely supplanted Filipino activities with a semimilitary rule. However, the advent of the Great Depression in the United States in the 1930s and the first aggressive moves by Japan in Asia (1931) shifted US sentiment sharply toward the granting of immediate independence to the Philippines. Members to the elected Philippine legislature lost no time in lobbying for immediate and complete independence from the United States. Several independence missions were sent to Washington, D.C. A civil service was formed and was regularly taken over by Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by the end of World War I.

In 1932, the United States Congress passed the
Hare-Hawes Cutting Act, providing for complete independence of the islands in 1945 after 10 years of self-government under US supervision. The bill had been drawn up with the aid of a commission from the Philippines, but Manuel L. Quezon, the leader of the leading Nationalist party, opposed it, partially because of its threat of American tariffs against Philippine products but principally because of the provisions leaving naval bases in US hands. Under Quezon's influence, the Philippine legislature rejected the bill. closely looks like the Hare-Hawes Cutting Act, but struck the provisions for American bases and carried a promise of further study to correct “imperfections or inequalities.”

Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina (b. August 19, 1878 in Baler, Aurora, Philippines - d. August 1, 1944 in Saranac Lake, New York, United States) was the first Filipino president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines under US occupation rule. He is also considered by most Filipinos, as the second President, after Emilio Aguinaldo, whose administration did not receive international recognition at the time. He has the distinction of being the first Senate President elected to the presidency, the first president elected through a national election, and was also the first incumbent to secure re-election (for a partial second term, later extended, due to amendments to the 1935 Constitution). He is known as the "Father of the National Language".

In 1934, the United States Congress finally passed a new Philippine Independence Act, popularly known as the Tydings-McDuffie Act. The law provided for the granting of Philippine independence by 1946. It closely looked like the Hare-Hawes Cutting Act, but struck the provisions for American bases and carried a promise of further study to correct “imperfections or inequalities.”

On March 18, 1935, an assembly of more than 100 Maranao leaders passed a strong worded manifesto known as the Dansalan Declaration addressed to the US President vehemently opposed the annexation of the Bangsamoro homeland in reaction to the US-backed convention organized to write the Philippine constitution. But the Philippine legislature ratified the Tydings-McDuffie Act and the new constitution, approved by President Roosevelt in March 1935, was accepted by the majority of Philippine people in a plebiscite two months later.

US rule was accompanied by improvements in the education and health systems of the Philippines; school enrollment rates multiplied fivefold. By the 1930s, literacy rates had reached 50%. Several diseases were virtually eliminated. However, the Philippines remained economically backward. US trade policies encouraged the export of cash crops and the importation of manufactured goods; little industrial development occurred. Meanwhile, landlessness became a serious problem in rural areas; peasants were often reduced to the status of serfs.

In September 1935 Manuel L. Quezon won the Philippine's first national presidential election against Emilio Aguinaldo and Bishop Gregorio Aglipay. Following a plebiscite, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was formally established, featuring a very strong executive, a unicameral National Assembly, and a Supreme Court composed entirely of Filipinos for the first time since 1901. The new government embarked on an ambitious agenda of establishing the basis for national defense, greater control over the economy, reforms in education, improvement of transport, the colonization of the island of Mindanao, and the promotion of local capital and industrialization. The Commonwealth however, was also faced with agrarian unrest, an uncertain diplomatic and military situation in South East Asia, and uncertainty about the level of United States commitment to the future Republic of the Philippines.
To develop defensive forces against possible aggression, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was brought to the islands as military adviser in 1935, and the following year he became field marshal of the Commonwealth army.

In 1939-40, the Philippine Constitution was revised to restore a bicameral Congress, and permit the reelection of President Quezon, who was eventually reelected in November 1941.
During the Commonwealth years, Philippines sent one elected Resident Commissioner to the United States House of Representatives.

WWII and independence
War came unexpectedly to the Philippines. On December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan attacked without warning the defending Philippine and United States troops (about 80,000 troops, four fifths of them Filipinos) under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, which surrendered few months later.
President Quezon and Vice President Osmeña left for the United States, where they set up a government in exile. José P. Laurel was instructed to remain in Manila because of his prewar, close relationship with Japanese officials. Laurel was among the Commonwealth officials instructed by the Japanese Imperial Army to form a provisional government.

Japanese troops attacked the islands in many places and launched a pincer drive on Manila. Aerial bombardment was followed by landings of ground troops in Luzon. Under the pressure of superior numbers, the defending forces  withdrew to the Bataan Peninsula and to the island of Corregidor at the entrance to Manila Bay where they entrenched and tried to hold until the arrival of reinforcements, meanwhile guarding the entrance to Manila Bay and denying that important harbor to the Japanese. But no reinforcements were forthcoming. Manila, declared an open city to stop its destruction, was occupied by the Japanese on January 2, 1942.
The Philippine defense continued until the final surrender of United States-Philippine forces on the Bataan Peninsula in April 1942 and on Corregidor in May.

Many individual soldiers refused to surrender, however, and guerrilla resistance, organized and coordinated by US and Philippine army officers, continued throughout the Japanese occupation. MacArthur was ordered out by President Roosevelt and left for Australia on March 11, where he started to plan for a return to the Philippines.

Most of the 80,000 prisoners of war captured by the Japanese at Bataan were forced to undertake the notorious Bataan Death March to a prison camp 105 kilometers to the north. It is estimated that as many as 10,000 men died before reaching their destination.

Japanese occupation of the Philippines was opposed by such a large-scale underground and guerrilla activity that, by the end of the war, Japan controlled only twelve of the forty-eight provinces. The major element of resistance in the Central Luzon area was furnished by the Hukbalahap (Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa mga Hapon, "People's Army Against the Japanese"), which armed some 30,000 people and extended their control over much of Luzon.

The Japanese military authorities immediately began organizing a new government structure in the Philippines. They initially organized a Council of State through which they directed civil affairs until October 1943, when they declared the Philippines an independent republic, headed by President José P. Laurel, former Supreme Court justice.

In August 1944, President Quezon died. Vice President Sergio Osmeña became president.  Osmeña returned to the Philippines on October 20, 1944, with the first liberation forces, which surprised the Japanese by landing at Leyte, in the heart of the islands, after months of US air strikes against Mindanao. 

The landing was followed (October 23–26) by the greatest naval engagement in history, called variously the battle of Leyte Gulf and the second battle of the Philippine Sea. A great US victory, it effectively destroyed the Japanese navy and opened the way for the recovery of all the islands. Luzon was invaded (Jan., 1945), and Manila was taken in February. On July 5, 1945, MacArthur announced “All the Philippines are now liberated.” Fighting continued until Japan's formal surrender on September 2, 1945. The Philippines suffered great loss of life and monstrous physical destruction by the time the war was over. An estimated 1 million Filipinos had been killed, and Manila was extensively damaged. The Japanese had suffered over 425,000 dead in the Philippines.
After signing a peace treaty with Japan, the Philippines eventually received $800m in reparations payments.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur ordered Laurel arrested for collaborating with the Japanese. In 1946 he was charged with 132 counts of treason, but was never brought to trial due to the general amnesty granted by President Manuel Roxas in 1948.

The Philippine congress met on June 9, 1945, for the first time since its election in 1941. It faced huge problems. The land was destroyed by war, the economy destroyed, the country torn by political warfare and guerrilla violence. Osmeña’s leadership was challenged in January 1946 when one wing (now the Liberal party) of the Nationalist party nominated for president Manuel Roxas, who defeated Osmeña in April.

As the US was preparing to give the Philippines commonwealth status in preparation for its independence in 1946, some Moro leaders favored integration into the republic but majority from both Sulu and Mindanao protested the plan to incorporate their homeland into the Philippine state. 
In 1946, contrary to its promise under the Bates Treaty "not to give or sell Sulu or any part of it to any other nation," the US incorporated Mindanao and Sulu against the will of the Moro people into the state today known as the Philippine Republic.
But even after their territories were made part of the Republic of the Philippines in 1946, the Bangsamoro people continued to assert their right to independence.

The Republic of the Philippines
Manuel Roxas became the first president of the Republic of the Philippines when independence was granted, as scheduled, on July 4, 1946.  But his sudden death by heart attack in April 1948 elevated the vice president, Elpidio Quirino, to the presidency. In November 1949, in a bitterly contested election Quirino defeated José P. Laurel to win a four-year term of his own.

In March, 1947, the Philippines and the United States signed a military assistance pact and the Philippines gave the United States a 99-year lease on designated military, naval, and air bases. At the beginning of 1967 a second agreement reduced that period to 25 years
In foreign affairs, the Philippines maintained a firm anti-Communist policy and joined the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization in 1954. There were difficulties with the United States over American military installations in the islands, and, despite formal recognition in 1956 of full Philippine sovereignty over these bases, tensions increased until some of the bases were dismantled in 1959.
At the beginning of 1967 a second agreement reduced that period to 25 years.

After independence, efforts to integrate the Muslims into the new political order met with stiff resistance. It was unlikely that the Muslim Filipinos, who have had longer cultural history as Muslims than the Christian Filipinos as Christian, would surrender their identity.
The enormous task of reconstructing the war-torn country was complicated by the activities in central Luzon of the Communist-dominated Hukbalahap guerrillas (Huks), who resorted to violence in their efforts to achieve land reform and gain political power.

The Hukbalahap, commonly known as Huks, was the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (PKP), formed in 1942 to fight the Japanese Empire's occupation of the Philippines during World War II.  The term is a contraction of the Filipino term "Hukbong Bayan Laban sa mga Hapon", which means "People's Army Against the Japanese."
They began as several groups of resistance against the Imperial Japanese Army, mostly joint by agrarian peasants of Central Luzon. They aimed to lead the Philippines toward Marxist ideals and communist revolution.

After its inception the group grew quickly and by late summer 1943 claimed to have 20,000 active military fighters and 50,000 more in reserve. Weaponry was obtained primarily by stealing it from battlefields and downed planes left behind by the Japanese, Filipinos and Americans.
They fought Japanese troops to rid the country of its imperialist occupation, worked to subvert the Japanese tax-collection service, intercepted food and supplies to the Japanese troops, and created a training school where they taught political theory and military tactics based on Marxist ideas.
In areas that the group controlled, they set up local governments and instituted land reforms, dividing up the largest estates equally among the peasants and often killing the landlords.

After the war, the Hukbalahaps remained active, although to a lesser extent and with their power diminished. Under the leadership of Luis Taruc and Communist Party General Secretary Jose Lava, the Hukbalahap continued waging guerrilla warfare against the United States and later against the first independent governments. The Hukbalahap Insurrection (1946-1954) was their attempt to take over the Philippines, but they were accused to commit rape, robberies and murders against unarmed civilians.
In 1949, Hukbalahap members ambushed and murdered Aurora Quezon, Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross and widow of the Philippines' second president, Manuel L. Quezon, and several others.
Public sympathies for the movement had been waning due to their postwar attacks, and what remained evaporated following the Quezon ambush. Without the protection of local supporters, active "Huk" resistance was eventually defeated in 1954, after a vigorous attack promoted by President Ramón Magsaysay. After four months of negotiations led by
Benigno Aquino, Jr. Taruc surrendered unconditionally to the government.

The Hukbong Mapagpalya ng Bayan was again ressurected as Bagong Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan during the early 1960s, but the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas shifted from the use of armed struggle to parliamentary struggle.

In November 1953, Ramón Magsaysay had became president of the country, having defeated Quirino. He had promised sweeping economic changes, and he did make progress in land reform, opening new settlements outside crowded Luzon island. His death in an airplane crash in March 1957 was a serious blow to national morale. Vice President Carlos P. Garcia succeeded him and won a full term as president in the elections of November 1957.

In June 1959, Philippine opposition to García on issues of government corruption and anti-Americanism led to the union of the Liberal and Progressive parties, this one led by Vice President Diosdado Macapagal.
In the 1961 elections Macapagal succeeded García as president. Macapagal’s administration was marked by efforts to combat the mounting inflation that had plagued the republic since its birth; by attempted alliances with neighboring countries; and by the Sabah dispute with Britain and Malaysia

Malaysia vigorously opposed the Philippine's territorial claim, arguing that a certain Baron de Overbeck had "purchased" Sabah from the sultan of Sulu before later assigning his rights to the British East India Company. Malaysia further argued that Sabah had become part of Malaysian territory when Britain granted independence to the Federated States of Malaysia. The Philippines, by reply, argued a case of bad semantics, insisting that in 1876 de Overbeck had only "leased" Sabah from the Sultan of Sulu. The alleged contract between de Overbeck and the Sultan of Sulu used, they argued, the word padjak, a Malay term that could mean either "lease" or "purchase."

From the official website of the ROYAL HASHEMITE SULTANATE OF SULU AND SABAH
The father of HM Sultan Jamalul Kiram II was HM Sultan Jamalul Ahlam Kiram (Sultan of Sulu and Sabah 1863 to 1881) leased North Borneo/Sabah to a British Company represented by the two Dent brothers and Gustavus Baron von Overbeck in 1878. This 1878 North Borneo Lease states: “The abovementioned territories are from today truly leased to Gustavus Baron von Overbeck and to Alfred Dent, Esquire, as already said, together with their heirs, their associates (company) and to their successors and assigns for as long as they choose or desire to use them, but the rights and powers hereby leased shall not be transferred to another nation, or a company of other nationality, without the consent of His Majesty’s Government.” Based on facts, reality and history, His Majesty’s Government or the Government of the Sultan of Sulu as owner never gave its consent to the 1963 British transfer of Sabah to Malaysia which means that the “Lease is breached” and based on point of Law, it can be stated that Sabah must and should be returned to the Lawful Owner namely to the Sultan of Sulu. Sabah is the private property of the Sultan of Sulu up to now and the Sabah occupation of Malaysia is unlawful.

The contemporary armed conflict on the Moro front may be set in periods as follows, based on qualitative changes in the situation, key issues, decisions, and developments:
1. Formative Years (1968-72)
2. Early Martial Law and Moro War of Liberation (1972-75)
3. First Peace Negotiations and Tripoli Agreement (1975-77)
4. Rest of the Marcos Regime (1977-86)
5. Aquino Administration (1986-92)
6. Ramos Administration (1992-98)
7. Recent Years: Estrada (1998-2001) and Arroyo Administrations (2001-present)

In the 1960s the central government in Manila enforced a "homestead" policy, which propelled the escalation of Christian migration to Mindanao region. Settlers from Luzon and Visayas occupied part of the Bangsamoro. Local and foreign big business obtained titles over the lands.

In the 1965 elections, Ferdinand E. Marcos succeeded to the presidency after defeating Macapagal. He inherited the territorial dispute over Sabah; in 1968 he approved a congressional bill annexing Sabah to the Philippines. Malaysia suspended diplomatic relations and the matter was referred to the United Nations.

Parallel with diplomatic attempts, Marcos conceived a plot of establishing a force of commandos to destabilize Sabah, then ultimately to take advantage of the instability by either intervening in the island on the pretext of protecting Filipinos living there, or by "the residents themselves deciding to secede from Malaysia."
The plot brought to the Operation Merdeka, which ended in March 1968 in the
so-called Jabidah Massacre, in which from 28 to 64 Filipino Muslim commandos were gunned down by the military in Corregidor, an island in the entrance of the Philippines' Manila Bay, because they had refused to invade Sabah.
The Philippines dropped its claim to Sabah only in 1978.

Marcos could not have chosen a more auspicious time to try and reclaim Sabah. Malaysia was only a fledgling state at that point, made even more wobbly by the secession of Singapore in 1965, two years after its independence from Britain. Too, Malaysia was embroiled in a border dispute with powerful Indonesia.

The codename for the destabilization plan was Operation Merdeka. The plan involved the recruitment of nearly 200 Tausug and Sama Muslims aged 18 to 30 from Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and their training in the island-town of Simunul in Tawi-Tawi. The recruits felt giddy about the promise not only of a monthly allowance, but also over the prospect of eventually becoming a member of an elite unit in the Philippine Armed Forces. That meant, among other benefits, guns, which Muslims regard as very precious possessions. So from August to December 1967, the young recruits underwent training in Simunul. The name of the commando unit was "Jabidah".
On December 30 that year, from 135 to 180 recruits boarded a Philippine Navy vessel for the island of Corregidor in Luzon for "specialized training."
This second phase of the training turned mutinous when the recruits discovered their true mission. It struck the recruits that the plan would mean not only fighting their brother Muslims in Sabah, but also possibly killing their own Tausug and Sama relatives living there. Additionally, the recruits had already begun to feel disgruntled over the non-payment of the promised P50 monthly allowance. The recruits then demanded to be returned home.
As Jibin Arula, the sole survivor, later recounted, the plotters led the trainees out of their Corregidor barracks on the night of March 18, 1968, to a nearby airstrip. There, the plotters mowed the trainees down with gunfire.
Story from 

The Jabidah Massacre contributed to the rise of various separatist movements: the Muslim Independence Movement (MIM), Ansar el-Islam, and Union of Islamic Forces and Organizations. When it became evident to the Bangsamoro leaders that it would not be possible to regain independence through political means because of lack of constitutional mechanism, they organized to pursue their goals through other means.
In 1969, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was founded by a group of educated young Muslims led by Nur Misuari, vowing to separate the islands of Mindanao, Palawan and the Sulu Archipelago from the country and create an independent Bangsamoro Republic in Mindanao. The group regarded the earlier movements as feudal and oppressive, and employed a Marxist framework to analyze the Muslim condition and the general Philippine situation.

At that time, the Moro were already the largest mainly non-Christian ethnic group in the Philippines, comprising about 5% of the total Philippine population, making them the sixth largest ethnic group in the country. They mostly lived in the southern Philippines in the region called Bangsamoro, a term coming from the Malay word "bangsa", meaning "nation or people", and the Spanish word "moro" referred to the Moro people, in general. These include the Tausug, the Maranao, Maguindanaoan, and the Banguingui.
Later on, due to migration, Moro communities began to appear in major cities like Manila, Cebu and Baguio, but Muslims and Christians generally remained distinct societies.

On March 29, 1969, the New People's Army (NPA) was formed as Maoist a paramilitary group fighting for communist revolution in the Philippines. The NPA started a "protracted people's war" as the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Starting out with 60 fighters and 34 rifles, the NPA quickly spread throughout the Philippine Islands during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. After the declaration of martial law on September 21, 1972 thousands of students came into the ranks.

In November 1969, Marcos won an unprecedented re-election, easily defeating Sergio Osmeña Jr., but the election was accompanied by violence and charges of fraud. He was unable to reduce massive government corruption or to create economic growth proportional to population growth.
Civil disorder, student protests and labour strikes started. The Communist Party of the Philippines formed the New Peoples Army and and launched a "protracted people's war".

In 1969, the continuing need for land reform fostered an uprising in central Luzon, in something of a Huk revival, accompanied by mounting assassinations and acts of terror. The splinter CPP formed the New People's Army and launched a protracted people's war while Marcos began a major military campaign to subdue the revolt.
In January 1970, some 2,000 demonstrators tried to storm Malacañang Palace, the presidential residence; riots erupted against the US embassy.
In November 1970, when Pope Paul VI visited Manila, an attempt was made on his life.
In 1971, at a Liberal party rally, hand grenades were thrown at the speakers’ platform, and several people were killed.

In these years bad skirmishes happened between Christian vigilantes called “Ilagas” and Muslim vigilantes called “Barracudas” and “Blackshirts.” The series of Ilaga and military atrocities against Muslims in Mindanao from 1970 to 1972 caught international attention and raised concern in the Muslim world, especially when reported as acts of genocide.

In September 1972, President Marcos declared martial law, charging that a Communist rebellion threatened. He curtailed press freedom and other civil liberties; closed down Congress and media establishments; and ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and militant activists, including his staunchest critics Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.. and Senator Jose Diokno. A curfew was implemented. Political opponents were given the opportunity to go into exile.
Meanwhile the fighting on Mindanao had spread to the Sulu Archipelago. By 1973 some 3,000 people had been killed and hundreds of villages burned.

Immediately after the conflict flared up in Mindanao, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) took interest in the resolution of the conflict. The Third Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from February 29 to March 4, 1972, decided “to seek the good offices of the Government of the Philippines to guarantee the safety and property of the Muslims” as citizens of the country.
In its meeting the following year, the OIC decided to send to Mindanao a fact finding delegation composed of the foreign ministers of Libya, Senegal, Somalia and Saudi Arabia. It also urged Indonesia and Malaysia to exert their good offices to help find solution within the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Philippines was one the founder members.

In 1973, the 1935 constitution was replaced by a new one that provided the President with absolute direct powers. In July a plebiscite gave Marcos the right to remain in office beyond the expiration of his term.

Throughout the 1970s the economy was robust, with budgetary and trade surpluses. The Gross National Product rose from P55 billion in 1972 to P193 billion in 1980. Tourism rose from less than 200,000 in previous years to one million by 1980, contributing to the economy's growth.
On the other side, poverty and governmental corruption and nepotism increased, and Imelda Romualdez Marcos, Ferdinand’s wife, became more and more influential.

n January 18-19, 1975, through the mediation efforts of the OIC, representatives of the Philippine government (GRP) and the MNLF met in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The meeting was the start of the formal negotiations between the government and the MNLF, but it did not progress initially because of serious disagreements on many issues. As an attempt to reconcile the differences, the OIC put forward a plan of action that called for the establishment of an autonomous region for the Muslims, at the same time respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Philippines.
Imelda Marcos, invited to visit Libya, was sent as President special envoy. The visit resulted in the agreement to resume the peace negotiations. On December 15-23, 1976, the GRP and the MNLF met in Tripoli, Libya, under the auspices of the OIC. Following the signing of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, a formal ceasefire agreement between the GRP forces and the MNLF was concluded on January 20, 1977. The GRP and MNLF negotiating panels agreed on the establishment of an autonomous region for the Muslims covering thirteen provinces.
Subsequently, MNLF was accredited by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to represent Moros with an observer status.

The implementation of the Tripoli Agreement was immediately problematic. The Agreement embodied the general principles for autonomy and its institutional mechanism that would to be established. The details were to be discussed later by a mixed committee composed of the representatives of the government and the MNLF. The mixed committee met in Tripoli in February 1977 but no agreement on details of the autonomy was reached. Again, President Marcos sent his wife to Tripoli to meet President Gaddafi and exchanges of cables between the two presidents followed.
The two presidents agreed that (1) a decision be issued by the President of the Philippines declaring autonomy in the thirteen provinces covered in the Tripoli Agreement; (2) a provisional government be formed with the participation of the MNLF and the inhabitants of the areas of autonomy; and (3) a referendum be held in the areas of autonomy concerning administrative arrangements.
The Gaddafi-Marcos agreement, which was strongly objected to by the MNLF, became the basis of the government to unilaterally implement the Tripoli Agreement.
In March 1977, Marcos issued Proclamation 1628, creating two regional autonomous governments—thereby dividing into two groupings and reducing by three the 13 provinces under the Tripoli Agreement—and then subjecting this to a plebiscite in April.
Nur Misuari was invited to chair a provisional government, but he refused. The referendum was boycotted by the Muslims themselves. The talks collapsed, and fighting continued.

Since its first  steps, (resolution no. 18/5-P of the 5th ICFM), the OIC prescribed that the solution to the problem should be “within the framework of the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines.”
US Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly, in a letter to Chairman Salamat Hashim said that “the United States Government is committed to the territorial integrity of the Philippines.”
This attitude of the main mediators
caused a lack of participation of the Bangsamoro people in the peace process, particularly on matters of vital importance related to self-determination.
The MNLF made the decision to abandon independence as a goal in favour of autonomy without previous popular consultation. The consequence of that was the people’s lack of support for the peace agreement, as the people perceived it to be a product of betrayal of their cherished dream. As a consequence, there was shift of support from the MNLF to other groups that vowed to pursue the goal of independence.
Later on, even the
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), in spite of its terrorist and criminal activities, received some support from the masses of Basilan and Sulu.

For the period 1969-1976, which included the fiercest fighting between the government and the MNLF under the Marcos regime, it is estimated that as many as 60,000 people may have been killed, 54,000 wounded or maimed, and as many as 350,000 displaced.

In 1977, after Misuari acceded to the wishes of the OIC to drop the Front’s bid for independence and instead settle for autonomy, a faction lead by second-in-command Salamat Hashim broke away from the MNLF and formed the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to continue the struggle to pursue independence. MILF did not stray far from the philosophical foundations of MNLF but organized its own political machinery and armed forces separate from the MNLF. With 15,000 members, it became the largest Islamic separatist group in the Philippines.

Although the MILF was as strong a force as the MNLF and was dominant in Bangsamoro areas in mainland Mindanao, the government confined the negotiations with the MNLF until the peace accord was signed in 1996. Peace overtures with the MILF were limited to informal contacts. This was so because the MNLF was the signatory to the Tripoli Agreement, which was the basis of the peace talks. Likewise, the OIC, under whose auspices the negotiations were carried out, recognized the MNLF as the representative organization of the Muslims in South of the Philippines.
On the other hand, the MILF did not want to complicate the GRP-MNLF peace talks and rejected any attempt by the Philippine government to open separate negotiations.

In the early 1980s the New People's Army (NPA) was at its peak with over 25,000 fighters, being classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union

Martial law remained in force until 1981, when it was officially lifted in order to appease the Catholic Church before the visit of Pope John Paul II. An opposition boycotted presidential elections then ensued and Marcos was re-elected, amid accusations of electoral fraud.
On August 21, 1983, opposition leader Benigno Aquino, back to the Philippines after a long period of exile, was assassinated at Manila airport, which incited a new, more powerful wave of anti-Marcos dissent. The opposition united under Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino.

In February 1986 Marcos and his opponent, Corazon Aquino, run for presidential election. After the vote, both declared themselves the winner, and charges of massive fraud and violence were levelled against the Marcos faction. Marcos’s domestic and international support eroded, a peaceful civilian-military uprising, now popularly called the 1986 EDSA Revolution, forced Marcos into exile and he fled the country with his wife Imelda, eventually obtaining asylum in the United States. It is said he had amassed an estimated $10bn fortune, but he died only 3 years after in Hawaii.

In 1986, after President Corazon Aquino assumed the presidency, she called for a constitutional convention to draft a new constitution in 1987.
Her government faced mounting problems, including coup attempts, significant economic difficulties, and pressure to rid the Philippines of the US military presence (the last US bases were evacuated in 1992).
The government initiated the revival of the peace talks with MNLF. Government's envoys and MNLF chairman Nur Misuari met at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah, which resulted in the signing of the Jeddah Accord on January 3-4, 1987.

The two panels agreed to continue discussion of the proposal for the grant of full autonomy. It was also agreed upon that a joint commission, which would “discuss and draft the mechanism and details of the proposal for the grant of full autonomy” would be created.
The Accord actually deviated from the Tripoli Agreement by entertaining an MNLF proposal for full autonomy to Mindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan (23 provinces all in all) “subject to democratic processes.” However, the accord was overtaken in February 1987 by the ratification of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which had provisions for an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao “within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty, as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.”
The negotiations were again on track but both parties were not able to reconcile their different proposals.
The MILF refused to accept the

On January 29, 1987, a group of heavily armed rebels occupied a television station as part of a series of carefully orchestrated attacks on key military bases and broadcasting stations, including the Villamor air force base near Manila airport. It was the fifth uprising following her controversial election victory in spring 1986.
Following the uprising, Corazon Aquino ordered the arrest of a number of dissident high ranking army officers involved in the rebellion. She survived one more coup attempt in 1989, when US jets assisted Philippine government forces in suppressing the rebellion.

In 1990, with the new constitutional mandate, President Aquino proceeded to establish the partially autonomous region known as the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao region was first created on August 1, 1989 through Republic Act No. 6734 otherwise known as the Organic Act in pursuance with a constitutional mandate to provide for an autonomous area in Muslim Mindanao. A plebiscite was held in the provinces of Basilan, Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Palawan, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur; and in the cities of Cotabato, Dapitan, Dipolog, General Santos, Iligan, Marawi, Pagadian, Puerto Princesa and Zamboanga to determine if the residents would want to be part of the ARMM.
Of the areas where the plebiscites were held only Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi voted favorably for inclusion in the new autonomous region, which was rejected where Christian residents were predominant. The ARMM was officially inaugurated on November 6, 1990 in Cotabato City, which was designated as its provisional capital.

Social factors in the early 1990s contributed against the political autonomy sought by Muslim leaders. Industrial development and increased migration outside the region brought new educational demands and new roles for women. These changes in turn led to greater assimilation and, including intermarriage.

In 1992, Aquino declined to run for re-election and was succeeded by her former army Chief General  Fidel V. Ramos. He immediately launched an economic revitalization plan premised on three policies: government deregulation, increased private investment, and political solutions to the continuing insurgencies within the country.

On January 1, 1993 a new Islamic group was formed in Johor, Malaysia, by the name of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which means “Islamic Community”. JI had its roots in Darul Islam (meaning "House of Islam"), a conservative movement born in Indonesia in the 1940s. JI's goal was the creation of an Islamic state across Southeast Asia to include Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, southern Thailand, and southern Philippines.
While Jemaah Islamiyah did not exist as a violently brutal terrorist entity until 1993, the group began to take shape in 1973, when two Muslim clerics, supporters of Darul Islam formed a pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) in Solo, Indonesia called Pondok Ngruki.
Upon the eventual formation of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) around 1993, the group actively advocated the use of violence to attain its goals. By the late 1990s, JI was recruiting and training extremists for the purpose of terrorist actions in Southeast Asia. Jemaah Islamiyah has shown the ability and willingness to inflict significant casualties on innocent civilians (including tourists) and those they believe to be allied with “Western interests.”
JI was linked to several bombings in 2000.
On October 12, 2002, Jemaah Islamiyah inflicted the horrific Bali bombings, killing over 200 people.
Jemaah Islamiyah is also suspected of carrying out the Zamboanga bombings, the Rizal Day Bombings, the 2004 Jakarta embassy bombing and the 2005 Bali terrorist bombing.
On October 25, 2002, the Abu Sayyaf Group was put on the list of entities belonging to or associated with the Al-Qaida organisation by the the United Nations Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 on 15 October 1999.
In August 2003, JI leader Riduan Isamuddin, called Hambali, was captured. His arrest surely damaged the group but JI remained an active and significant terrorist threat in Southeast Asia, having been directly and indirectly involved in dozens of bombings in the southern Philippines, usually in league with the Abu Sayyaf.
Financial links between Jemaah Islamiyah, Abu Sayyaf and al-Qaeda, have been found to exist.

On December 11, 1994, a bomb exploded on a Philippines Airlines flight en route from Manila to Tokyo with 292 people on board. One passenger was killed an 10 others injured. The victims were all Japanese. The Abu Sayyaf Group claimed credit for the bombing, even if it is still not sure that the group was involved.
Anyway that was the first of many attacks to private and public properties, tourists and authorities claimed by the group.

The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is one of the smallest (but maybe the strongest) radical Islamic group active in the Southern Philippines and Malaysia. Its stated goal is the creation of an independent Islamic state encompassing the Islamic parts of Southern Thailand, the island of Borneo, the Sulu Archipelago, and Mindanao, areas where Moro Muslims make up the majority of the local population.
Abu Sayyaf, which literally means “father of the sword” in Arabic, was founded in 1991 by
Abdurajik Abubakar Janjalani and some radical MNLF members who objected to the MNLF’s peace negotiations with the Philippine government. Janjalani, former teacher and veteran of war against Soviet Union in Afghanistan, was native of Isabela City, currently one of the smallest and poorest, or so-called "5th-class" cities of the Philippines. Though Janjalani’s first recruits were dissidents from the MNLF, both the MILF and the MNLF deny having links with Abu Sayyaf because of its attacks on civilians and its profiteering. Islamic scholars do not support Abu Sayyaf because their acts violate Islamic values. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) also does not support Abu Sayyaf for the same reason.
It is generally believed that the group received initial funding and training from Al Qaeda in the early 1990s through Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden. Since then, Abu Sayyaf has been largely self-financed through extortion rackets and kidnapping-for-ransom schemes. One report estimated its revenues from ransom payments in 2000 alone between $10 and $25 million. According to the US State Department, it may also receive funding from radical Islamic benefactors. The Philippine government considers ASG to be allied with the radical Islamic group Jemaah Islamiyah.
Abu Sayyaf's first large-scale action was the beachhead assault on the town of Ipil in Mindanao in April 1995.
On December 18, 1998, the founder Abdurajik Janjalani was killed in a firefight with the Philippine National Police on Basilan Island. The death of the older brother Janjalani marked a turning point in ASG operations, shifting from its ideological focus to more general kidnappings, murders and robberies, as the younger brother Khadaffy Janjalani then rose to command.
Since then many consider the group nothing but a criminal racket as it carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, rapes and extortion in what they describe as fight for independence.
On October 6, 2001, the Abu Sayyaf Group was put on the list of entities belonging to or associated with the Al-Qaida organisation by the the United Nations Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 on 15 October 1999.
On February 27, 2004, an explosive device tore through the Superferry 14, killing at least 118 people on the shores outside Manila. This attack, among many attributed to Abu Sayyaf, was the region's worst terrorist attack since the 2002 bombing of a Bali nightclub. It was believed that Abu Sayyaf bombed Superferry 14 because the company that owned it, WG&A, did not comply with a letter demanding protection money.
Khadaffy Janjalani and Abu Sulaiman were considered the mastermind of the attack.
In September  2006 Janjalani was killed in an encounter with government troops on September in Sulu Island.
On January 7, 2007, Abu Sulaiman, considered Janjalani's successor to Abu Sayyaf leadership, was killed in a clash after more than 7,000 troops had been hunting him for months in a US-backed campaign called "Oplan Ultimatum."

Abu Sayyaf is believed to receive a small level of logistical and material support from other extremist groups active in the region and and to provide safe haven for terrorist leaders from other groups. It has local infrastructure in place to raise money. It is also known to have substantial links to factions of the MILF.
It is thought to have two to five hundred core members mostly recruited from educational institutions and up to 2000 supporters. Low numbers indicate a lack of support among the local population. Their actions are generally fully condemned by the Islamic world as violating the tenets of Islam.
The US Department of State has branded the Abu Sayyaf Group a terrorist entity by adding it to the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

Ramos' political program was in part successful, opening dialogues with the Marxist and Muslim guerrillas. Although Muslim unrest and violence continued, the government signed a peace accord with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996, which led to an expansion of the autonomous region in 2001.
It was under the presidency of Fidel V. Ramos that the final agreement between the government (GRP) and the MNLF was reached, after three rounds of talks were held in Tripoli and Jakarta with the active mediation of Indonesia.

On September 2, 1996, in Manila, Ambassador Manuel T. Yan, Nur Misuari, Ali Alatas and Dr. Hamid Al-Ghabid, representing the government, MNLF, the OIC Committee of Six, and the OIC Secretariat, respectively, affixed their signatures to the agreement, which was the full implementation of the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 and embodied the totality of all agreements, covenants and understanding between the government and the MNLF.
The 1996 Peace Agreement was to be implemented by establishing local governance instruments and integrating MNLF forces to the Philippines Army and the police force.  In the meantime, a GRP offer was accepted by the MNLF for an alliance with the ruling party, enabling the MNLF to gain control over the existing ARMM through elections held immediately after in September 1996.
But both parties could not agree on the how and to what extent would be the implementation of the accord.
The MILF rejected it because it was not a solution to the Bangsamoro problem, which was in "establishing a system of life and governance suitable and acceptable to the Bangsamoro people.”.

On December 3-5, 1996, 1,070,697 delegates allegedly took part to the First Bangsamoro People's Consultative Assembly (BPCA) held  in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, and called for reestablishment of the original Bangsamoro state and government.

On September 9, 1996, elections were held for the ARMM officials. Prof. Nurallaji Misuari, the Chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was elected as governor and stayed in charge till 2002. The ARMM elections were considered unique because they were peaceful, despite being held in what has been the country's traditionally most volatile areas. After his election as ARMM governor, Misuari promised to use "moral pressure" to convince members of the Abu Sayaf group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to lay down their arms and assist the government in promoting peace and development in Mindanao.
But in the following years
the MNLF, at least the Nur Misuari faction, continued to accuse the government of violation and non-implementation of some provisions of the peace agreement. In particular they didn't see a clear legislative confirmation of many of the vital aspects of the Tripoli Agreement like ancestral domain, territories, development of conflict areas and administrative system, being the Philippine Congress controlled by members who were against the very spirit of the agreement. Misuari affirmed that ARMM as created by the Philippines Congress was not really equipped to provide meaningful autonomy for the Bangsamoro people.
On the other hand, the government maintained that it had faithfully implemented the accord and
miserably portrayed Nur Misuari as inept and corrupt.
As a matter of fact, ARMM was granted no fiscal autonomy, so money might come from the national government, which determined how it had to be spent. Instead, the MNLF wanted the regional government to determine where the money goes.

The role of the OIC and Libya was helpful in bringing the government and the MNLF to the negotiation table, and Indonesia was instrumental in forging the final peace agreement. But in the implementation stage the OIC, Libya and Indonesia stayed at the background while the multi-donor agencies took the center stage.

Several natural disasters, including the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo on Luzon and a succession of severe typhoons, slowed the country’s economic progress in the 1990s. The Philippines, however, escaped much of the economic turmoil seen in other East Asian nations in 1997 and 1998, in part by following a slower pace of development imposed by the International Monetary Fund.
Following the signing of the 1996 Peace Accord expectations were high that the people of Mindanao would enjoy lasting peace. But subsequent violent clashes between government troops and Moro forces displaced more than a million civilians and destroyed their productive assets.

When the Philippine government was sure that final agreement with the MNLF would be reached, it contacted the MILF to search for a peaceful and political settlement of the Mindanao problem.
On August 3, 1996, former Executive Secretary Ruben Torres met MILF Vice Chairman for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar in Davao City to enter into formal negotiations.
Vice Chairman Jaafar and Secretary Torres met again on September 9-10 in Cagayan de Oro City. This time the discussions were on issues concerning cessation of hostilities and the creation of technical committees from both sides to draw the talking points and the guidelines of the proposed ceasefire.
The GRP and MILF technical committees met on January 7, 1997. This meeting marked the beginning of the official negotiations between the two parties. But before the second meeting was convened, armed confrontations between the two protagonists erupted in Buldon, Maguindanao, from January 16 to 27, 1997.

Subsequent meetings of the GRP-MILF Technical Committees were focused on the cessation of hostilities. Agreements were mainly on the operational guidelines for the general cessation of hostilities, administrative procedures, monitoring mechanism and identification and acknowledgment of MILF positions/camps.
The government and the MILF signed formal ceasefire agreements, on July 18, 1997.

In 1998, Joseph Estrada, a former movie actor, was elected president, pledging to help the poor and develop the country’s agricultural sector.
On August 27, 1998, GRP and MILF signed an agreement that reiterated the commitment of both parties to pursue the peace negotiations, to pledge to implement the joint agreements/arrangements previously signed, and to protect and respect human rights. Both parties recognized that there would be lasting peace on Mindanao when there was mutual thrust, justice, freedom and tolerance for the identity, culture, and ways of life and aspirations of all the peoples of Mindanao.

Hundreds of thousands of Bangsamoro allegedly participated in the Rally for Peace and Justice held in Cotabato City and Davao City on October 23, 1999, in Marawi City on October 24, 1999 and in Isabela, Basilan on December 7, 1999.
They issued a manifesto stating, "we believe that the only just, viable and lasting solution to the problem of our turbulent relationship with the Philippine government is the restoration of our freedom, liberty and independence which were illegally and immorally usurped from us, and that we be given a chance to establish a government in accordance with our political culture, religious beliefs and social norms."

On May 3, 2000, Abu Sayyaf guerillas abducted 21 tourists from a beach of Sipadan, Malaysia's renowned dive resort island, hitting Malaysia's tourism industry. Two Malaysians were freed early because they were Muslims. Abu Sayyaf was demanding $2.4 million for the release of the other hostages which included at least 10 foreigners. The Abu Sayyaf even demanded the release of various Muslim terrorists including Ramzi Yousef, convicted of masterminding the bombing the World Trade Center in New York in 1993.
In April 2001, Abu Sayyaf guerillas abducted for ransom 20 more tourists from another beach resort in the south of Philippines. An American man died during a rescue mission by troops in June 2002. Another American man and several Filipinos were also beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf militants.

The ceasefire agreement was broken in April 2000 when MILF's main base, Camp Abu Bakar, was attacked by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and fell to the Philippines military. 

After twenty months of negotiations at the technical committees level, the formal negotiation on the panel level was inaugurated on October 25, 1999 at the Da’wah Center, Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. Then on December 17, 1999 both peace panels met and agreed on the rules and procedures on the conduct of the formal peace talks. Substantive issues were tabled for discussion, but these were not tackled seriously because of reported ceasefire violations in Maguindanao, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Lanao del Norte provinces.

On the identification and acknowledgment of MILF positions/camps, out of 46 major and satellite camps submitted by the MILF for recognition, only Camp Abubakre as-Sidique, Camp Bushra, Camp Darapanan, Camp Omar, Camp Badre, Camp Rajahmuda and Camp Bilal were acknowledged. The other 39 camps were scheduled for verification and acknowledgment.

The peace panels met on April 27, 2000 in Cotabato City and before midnight signed an Aide Memoire enumerating what steps they would take to defuse the tensions. At dawn, however, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) launched an attack against Camp Abubakre, opening the Philippine Government-initiated all-out war against the MILF in Central Mindanao, which displaced half a million people.
In response the MILF declared a jihad against persecution and oppression.

In response to the call of civil society to save the peace process, a meeting between the two peace panels took place on June 1, 2000, when the GRP representatives presented a political package as a government proposal to solve the problem. That was a draft of the amendments to the ARMM Organic Act, which, earlier, had been rejected by the MNLF. After few days the MILF central committee decided to withdraw from the talks and disbanded its negotiating panel.

In November 2000, Estrada was impeached on charges of graft. Demonstrations against him mounted and members of his cabinet resigned, the supreme court stripped him of the presidency, and Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was sworn in as Estrada’s successor.

Late in 2000, Estrada was accused to have accepted millions of dollars in payoffs from illegal gambling operations. Although his support among the poor Filipino majority remained strong, many political, business, and church leaders called for him to resign. In November 2000, Estrada was impeached by the house of representatives on charges of graft, but the senate, controlled by Estrada’s allies, provoked a crisis when it rejected examining the president’s bank records. As demonstrations against Estrada mounted and members of his cabinet resigned, the supreme court stripped him of the presidency, and Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took the presidency.
Estrada was indicted on charges of corruption in April, and his supporters attempted to storm the presidential palace in May. One year late, Estrada was charged with plundering more than 80 million dollars from state funds while in office, found guilty. In 2007 he was jailed for life but, shortly afterwards, he won a presidential pardon.

When Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became President, Nur Misuari was ousted by the "MNLF Council of 15", forced to vacate his chairmanship of the MNLF and replaced by a senior official of the MNLF.

Bangsamoro leaders headed by Sultan Abdul Aziz Guiwan Mastura Kudarat IV of the Sultanate of Magindanaw meeting in Cotabato City on January 28, 2001 expressed their strong desire to regain the Bangsamoro independence. The Declaration of Intent and Manifestation of Direct Political Act they issued states:
"As sovereign individuals, we believe that the Bangsamoro people's political life, as matters stand, call for an OIC-sponsored or UN-supervised referendum in the interest of political justice to decide once and for all:

- To remain as an autonomous region
- To form a state of federated union
- To become an independent state"

On March 24, 2001, GRP and MILF signed an agreement for the resumption of the talks, which provided for the resumption of the peace negotiations to “continue the same from where it had stopped before April 27, 2000 until they shall have reached a negotiated political settlement of the Bangsamoro problem.”

The Second Bangsamoro People's Consultative Assembly held on June 1-3, 2001 held  in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, allegedly attended by 2,627,345 delegates from all over the Bangsamoro homeland, including representatives of non-Muslim indigenous communities, unanimously declared that "the only just, meaningful, and permanent solution to the Mindanao Problem is the complete independence of the Bangsamoro people and the territories they now actually occupy from the Republic of the Philippines."
In its declaration, the Assembly gave the MILF a conditional support and mandate in negotiating with the government. “(We) are giving our full support and mandate to the MILF to represent us in … (the) negotiations… provided, however, that the MILF does not deviate from our demand for complete independence…. Should the MILF choose to deviate, these support and mandate are deemed automatically rescinded and withdrawn.”

In 2001 a new law was passed for the expansion of the ARMM to include the areas which initially rejected inclusion and the provinces which were carved from them, however only Marawi City and Basilan with the exception of Isabela City opted to be integrated in the region.
Finally, ARMM was composed of five provinces and one city namely: Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Marawi City. Cotabato City was the seat of the regional government

Following talks brought to a ceasefire and then to the Tripoli Agreement on Peace on June 19–22, 2001.
The agreement recognized the distinct identity of the Bangsamoro people, their inherent right over their ancestral domain and their fundamental right to determine their future and political status.
A second round of talks in Kuala Lumpur focused on the implementing guidelines of the ceasefire. 
The third round was supposed to tackle the issue of the rehabilitation of refugees and development of conflict-affected areas, but the two panels could not agree on the details.
The government and the MILF signed a formal implementing agreement on August 7, 2001, after the resumption of peace negotiations
, but fighting with fundamentalist Islamic guerrillas continued and attacks were claimed even under the name MILF.

After President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office, she sought the assistance of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad and Indonesian President Abdul Rahman Wahid to convince the MILF to go back to the negotiation table. After series of trips by the Malaysian emissaries, MILF chairman Salamat Hashim agreed to resume talks with the government and sent his top deputy, Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim, to Kuala Lumpur to meet the Philippine Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Eduardo Ermita. The meeting was kept so secret that even Presidential Assistant for Mindanao Jesus Dureza, the chairman of the new Philippine peace panel, was not informed about it. On March 24, 2001, Murad and Ermita signed the agreement for the resumption of the talks.
The Murad-Ermita agreement provided for the resumption of the peace negotiations to “continue the same from where it had stopped before April 27, 2000 until they shall have reached a negotiated political settlement of the Bangsamoro problem.” It also provided a commitment “to honor, respect and implement all past agreements and other supplementary agreements signed by them.” Both parties agreed to undertake “relief and rehabilitation measures for evacuees, and joint development projects in the conflict-affected areas.” The MILF and the GRP committed themselves “to negotiate with sincerity and mutual trust, justice and freedom, and respect for the identity, culture and aspirations of all peoples of Mindanao.”

Following the Kuala Lumpur talks, the MILF declared the suspension of offensive military action (SOMA) against AFP forces on April 3, 2001 to reciprocate the government declaration of suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) against MILF forces. Satisfied that its conditions5 were met, the MILF central committee agreed to the resumption of the negotiations and reconstituted its negotiating panel.
Tripoli was chosen as the venue for the resumption of the negotiations. The meeting on June 19–22, 2001 resulted in the signing of the Agreement on Peace Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), otherwise known as the Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001.
The agreement called for the discussion of three issues: 1) security (ceasefire); 2) rehabilitation and development of conflict-affected areas; and 3) ancestral domain. The agreement recognized the distinct identity of the Bangsamoro as a people occupying a definite territory, referred to in the document as the Bangsamoro homeland, and the inherent right of the Bangsamoro people over their ancestral domain. It also acknowledged the fundamental right of the Bangsamoro people to determine their future and political status, and that, therefore, the problem was political in nature that needed a comprehensive, just and lasting political settlement through negotiations, and that negotiations and peaceful resolution of the conflict should involve consultations with the Bangsamoro people free of any imposition. The agreement allowed the evacuees to be awarded reparations for their properties lost or destroyed by reason of the conflict. While previous agreements did not mention the participation of the OIC, this time the MILF and the GRP wanted that it acted as observer and monitor implementation of all agreements, not just the ceasefire agreement.

The second round of the resumed talks in Kuala Lumpur focused on the implementing guidelines of the ceasefire. At the end of the meeting of the peace panels, agreement on the Implementing Guidelines for the Security Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement of Peace of 2001 was signed on August 7, 2001 at Putrajaya, Malaysia.

The third round was supposed to tackle the issue of the rehabilitation of refugees and development of conflict-affected areas, but the two panels could not agree on the details. To preclude the breakdown of the negotiations the GRP panel presented the Manual of Instruction for the Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and Local Monitoring Teams (LMT) for consideration. The contents of the manual were culled from provisions of previous agreements. It was signed on October 18, 2001 at Mines Resort, Selangor, Malaysia.

Then the talks were suspended. Malacañang announced that the negotiations would still continue through the back channel with Secretary Norberto Gonzales, the Presidential Assistant on Special Concerns, in charge of the part of the government.

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, and the Abu Sayyf abduction of a group of 20 tourists in 2001 that left five hostages dead, including Americans, pushed the United States government to provide training and assistance to Philippine troops fighting the guerrillas.
In November 2001 there was a MNLF uprising.
Nur Misuari led a raid on a military camp in Jolo, Sulu, to protest the government’s alleged non-compliance with the Tripoli Agreement. He was then subsequently incarcerated.

In January 2002 US announced joint exercises with Filipino military as a new phase in war on international terrorism. Operation Enduring Freedom - Philippines was part of Operation Enduring Freedom and was classified as part of US War on Terrorism. More than 1,200 members of United States Special Operations Command, Pacific (SOCPAC) and its components joined their counterparts from the Southern Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The mission was to advise and assist the AFP to help combat terrorism in the country. Much of the mission took place on the island of Basilan in the southern Philippines, a stronghold of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. This deployment of forces was conducted under a Exercise Balikatan 02-1, which is not to be confused with a much larger exercise named Balikatan 02-2 which took place in April 2002 and was purely a training exercise. 
Within OEF-Philippines was another project called Operation Smiles, an extensive program to provide medical care for local civilians of Basilan where the fighting had occurred. Operation Smiles included personnel from the Philippine Government as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), JTF 510 and non governmental organizations. Among the results of this operation was the creation of 14 schools, seven clinics, three hospitals, 81 kilometres of road and over 20 fresh water wells.

A new militant group, the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), was formally established in January 2002, apparently to divert military attention from the Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf.
The RSM was the radical fringe of the Balik-Islam movement, literally “return to Islam”, which s made up of people who grew up as Roman Catholics that have since converted to Islam. Members call themselves “reverts”, not converts, for two reasons. First, they maintain that all humans are born free of sin into Islam, but, misled by parents or guardians, may be brought up in other traditions. When they revert to Islam, they are cleansed of sin. Secondly, they argue that Islam was the country’s original religion, whose spread was forcibly reversed by Spanish colonial intervention. A powerful symbol of this frustrated destiny is Rajah Solaiman, Muslim overlord of Manila in the 1500s, at the time of the Spanish conquest.
Filipino workers returning from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf were the most important source of adherents to RSM for the more ideological forms of activist Balik-Islam.
RSM was relatively small in size, in spite of this its operations were large in scale. In 2004 and 2005, members of this new group took part in two bombings in the capital region that reflected intertwined relationships between the converts, the ASG who directly handled them, their Indonesian mentors and the MILF commanders who sheltered all three groups.
In October 2005, Ahmed Santos, RSM’s founder and first leader, was captured by Filipino security forces. Pio de Vera, his deputy, took his place as the leader of RSM, only to be captured two months later. Though it remained unclear who was then leading RSM, the young organization grew quickly and stayed very active.

On May 7, 2002, the parties signed an agreement that authorized the MILF to determine, lead and manage rehabilitation and development projects and established that the GRP would provide reparations for properties lost in the conflict.
The agreement broke down on February 11, 2003, after large-scale attacks on MILF positions. The government tied up
more than half its armed forces in Mindanao, despite pledges by both sides that they would negotiate and exercise restraint. More than 1,000 US troops arrived in the southern Philippines to train Filipino troops on so-called "small unit tactics", ideal for fighting guerrilla movements.

On February 21, 2003, the US Department of Defense announced that the US and Philippine forces would conduct combined operations against the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Southern Philippines. About 350 US special operations personnel from the Army, Navy and Air Force joined Philippine soldiers in the Sulu Archipelago. Another 750 Americans were to provide logistics support from the headquarters in Zamboanga on Mindanao Island.
At the end, US Military estimated that the number of Abu Sayyaf Group members on Basilan Island had decreased to approximately 80 from a prior high of 700 or more.
Ties between the US and the Philippines reached a high point in May 2003, when in return for the deployment of troops for the invasion of Iraq, the US accorded the Philippines the status of major non-NATO ally.

In March 2003, a powerful bomb exploded at Davao airport, in the Philippines' second largest city, killing at least 21 people and injuring 148, CNN reported. An hour after the airport blast, a bomb exploded at a health center in Tagum City, 50 kilometers north of Davao, injuring two people. The Philippine government blamed on rogue MILF elements, though MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu denied involvement in the airport attack and denounced both blasts.

However, a truce was declared in July 2003. In the same month some 300 soldiers were involved in a mutiny in Manila that the government claimed was part of a coup attempt.

Suspended talks resumed on May 7, 2002 at Putrajaya, Malaysia after months of back channel contacts. Instead of the Dureza panel representing the government, Secretary Norberto Gonzales and Secretary Eduardo Ermita were in Kuala Lumpur talking to the MILF. They signed the version of the agreement that Secretary Dureza had refused to sign.
The agreement reached by the two parties provided for the respect of human rights and observance of international humanitarian laws. It authorized the MILF to determine, lead and manage rehabilitation and development projects through a project implementing body that it would organize. The agreement also provided that the GRP would provide reparations for properties lost in the conflict.

Ancestral domain was the third issue to be discussed but the talks were not resumed after the May 7 meeting. The attack by government forces on MILF positions in Pikit and Pagalungan on February 11, 2003, at the time the Muslims were celebrating ‘id el adha (feast of sacrifice), derailed the resumption of the negotiations. Three exploratory talks were held to put back the negotiations on track, but the talks remained suspended. The MILF insisted that the government should comply with its commitment made during the exploratory talks that government troops withdrew from the Boliok complex and criminal charges against MILF leaders be dropped.

The military confrontations between the AFP and MILF forces in the year 2000 had displaced an estimated 932,000 people.
The 2001 clashes between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and MNLF in Sulu, added to AFP pursuit of the Abu Sayyaf, had dislocated close to 300,000 people. 
In February 2003 when government forces attacked MILF positions in Maguindanao and Cotabato Province, 393,039 people were displaced from their homes.
Oxfam estimated that 85% of those displaced were Muslims, 17% were Christians and 7% were non-Muslim indigenous people.

As of 2003, MILF controlled 12,000 men under arms, broken up into small and very mobile guerrilla units, whose leaders were confined to secret locations.
The MILF had set up checkpoints and even shadow governments in a number of towns and villages.
Many of their political leaders were former mujahideen, or holy warriors. In the 1980s they had been backed by US to fight the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan as volunteers.

The ARMM was supposed to translate into reality the political empowerment of the Bangsamoro people but it went to paralysis in front of poverty, lack of basic services and unresponsive leadership.
The peace accord did not improve the living conditions of the Bangsamoro people. The area of the ARMM and other conflict-affected areas remained the poorest provinces in the country. In fact,
according to the World Bank, the average income of people in conflict-affected areas declined after the 1996 peace agreement and many people felt dramatically below the poverty line.

On May 6, 2003, in a BBC interview, Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim, the MILF Vice Chairman for Military Affairs and Chief of Staff of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), said that Islam inspired the Bangsamoro, movement, but he stressed that the struggle was really about political and social neglect.
"The Bangsamoro people feel that the Manila government is not doing much for the benefit of the Moro People.  So that even now, the Moro people still consider Manila as a foreign government, a foreign colonial government," Al-Haj Murad said. "The problem here in Mindanao cannot be part of a fight against global terrorism. It is only a struggle for the aspiration of the Mindanao people."
Mr Murad met with Osama Bin Laden in the 1980s.
MILF admitted to sending around 600 volunteers to Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, and that Osama Bin Laden sent money to the Moro region, though the group denied directly receiving any of the money. The MILF even didn't deny that it welcomed foreign visitors to its camps. But MILF leaders denied connections with terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Al-Qaeda, though both the US and the Philippines government suspect that members of the MILF helped train Indonesians connected to Jema'ah Islamiah (JI), the group accused of carrying out the 2002 Bali bombing.
Read the interview: 

On February 2004 peace talks between government and communist rebel New People's Army started in Norway, to be called off by the rebels in August, when the government declined a request from the rebels to convince the United States and other Western European states to remove the New People's Army (NPA) and its self-exiled leader, José María Sison, from terrorist blacklists.

In May 2004, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was elected president in her own right, but the balloting was marred by violence and irregularities as well as a tedious vote-counting process that was completed six weeks after the election.

In July 2004 President Arroyo decided to withdraw the 51 Philippines troops from Iraq, bowing to the demands of the Iraqi Islamic Army, which had kidnapped a Filipino lorry driver. The decision worsened relations between US and the Philippines but the driver was freed.

A series of four devastating storms during November and December killed as many as 1,000 in the country’s north and east, particularly on Luzon.

On October 10, 2004, the International Monitoring Team (IMT) was officially deployed in Mindanao  with a one year mandate to monitor the upholding of a cease fire from both camps, to monitor the implementation of the agreements signed since 2001 and to ensure that the peace process progress to the stage of rehabilitation, reconstruction, and development of the conflict affected areas. The team was composed of 60 members among which 4 Libyans, 10 Bruneians, and the rest were Malaysians. Upon arrival in Mindanao, the members were re-grouped and stationed in five areas or sectors that cover the conflict areas, namely, Iligan City, General Santos City, Davao City, Zamboanga City, and Cotabato City which served as its headquarters.
All IMT members were financially sponsored by their respected governments while operation costs were borne by the Philippine government.

On December 22, 2004, the MILF and the Philippine government announced that they had formed a joint organization to clear the southern Philippines of criminal elements and operatives of two terrorist organizations, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

In early 2005 heavy fighting broke out on Mindanao between government forces and a splinter group of MILF rebels; also a "state of war" was declared by a MNLF splinter group in Sulu, followed by frontal attacks against AFP fixed positions. The AFP countered with artillery, aerial bombardment and armored supported ground troop assaults against MNLF fixed positions in both the eastern and western fronts in Sulu. The fighting resulted in hundreds of casualties on both sides while, due to the pre-evacuation of 70,000 civilians from the battle zones, there were zero civilian casualties during that ten-day war.
The AFP estimated the force strength of the MNLF in Sulu to be about 1,000 (the MNLF claimed at least twice more than this), while that of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu to be about 300. 

Despite peace negotiations that had appeared to be fruitful and a two year cease-fire, in January 9, 2005, MILF operatives attacked government troops in Maguindanao resulting in at least twenty-three deaths. Led by Abdul Rahman Binago, one or two hundred MILF guerrillas surrounded the soldiers and were believed to have executed several wounded. The combined troops of MILF and Abu Sofia (a small splinter group of the Pentagon Gang allegedly involved in kidnaps for ransom) were involved in days of fighting, to avenge the killing of suspected kidnappers by soldiers.
The MILF officially denied authorizing the attack, and said they were trying to communicate with Binago.
The incident, along with a 2003 bombing at Davao airport, raised speculation that the peace negotiations might be ineffectual in bringing peace to Mindanao if the MILF is unable to control its operatives.

Another round of peace negotiations between the MILF and the government of the Philippines to discuss ending the Muslim insurgency began in mid-April 2005 in Malaysia. Issues to be discussed included “ancestral domain” and the natural resources present in rebel-held areas. Negotiators disagreed over the size of the proposed Muslim homeland.

In July-September 2005 President Arroyo survived an opposition attempt to impeach her over allegations of vote-rigging.

In 2005 and 2006 renewed fighting between the government forces and Abu Sayyaf guerillas allied with the New People's Army (NPA) hit the south of the Philippines. At the end of 2006 the NPA was estimated to have 7,000 fighters while Abu Sayyaf had 2,000.

A new round of fighting occurred from June 28 to July 6, 2006, between the MILF and armed civilian volunteers (CVOs) under Maguindanao Province Governor Andal Ampatuan who were backed by Philippine Army troops.

The fighting began after Governor Ampatuan blamed the MILF for a June 23 bomb attack on his motorcade, which killed five in his entourage. The MILF denied responsibility, but Ampatuan sent police and CVOs to arrest MILF personnel allegedly connected to the attack. Four thousand families were reported displaced by the fighting that followed, which was ended by a cease-fire agreement signed July 10-11.

In August 2006 President Arroyo survived an opposition attempt to impeach her over allegations of corruption, human rights abuses and election fraud.

In February 2007 a Government report accused military figures of being behind the killings of hundreds of mainly left-wing activists since 2001.

In March 2007, the Philippine government offered to grant extensive self-government rights to Muslim communities in the south, which it had never done in over three decades of conflict and intermittent negotiations.
In general terms government would treat the proposed Muslim homeland, whose borders are to be defined, as indigenous land. Residents would control rights over Mindanao's rich natural resources and taxation. The central government would keep control of defence, foreign affairs, the monetary system and the postal system.

In April 2007 Abu Sayyaf militants beheaded seven Christian road workers in retaliation for the death of a militant commander, and sent their heads to troops on the southern Philippine island of Jolo, which had been carrying out operations against Islamic militants for several months, aided by US counter-terrorism trainers.
The road workers' employer had refused to pay a ransom.
At that time Abu Sayyaf was the smallest of Muslim rebel groups in the Philippines, with about 400 members.

On July 12, 2007, in Basilan, a patrol of GRP marines searching for kidnapped Italian priest, Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, ran into a group of some 300 MILF armed men. During the clash, 14 marines were killed, 9 other marines were wounded and at least 4 rebels were killed. Later 10 of the marines were beheaded.
Mohagher Iqbal, the chief negotiator for the MILF, later confirmed MILF being involved in the clash, but denied that it was responsible for the beheadings or for the kidnapping of the priest. Iqbal said the marines had attacked one of the group's strongholds, violating a ceasefire agreement, and that his forces had therefore fought back.
On July 19, 2007, no ransom was paid for the freedom of Father Giancarlo Bossi. He pointed to members of the notorious Abu Sayyaf rebel group as his kidnappers. Authorities blamed a renegade commander of the MILF, which always denied any responsibility.

In Spring 2007 allegedly 140 people were killed during three months of campaigning for parliamentary and local elections.

On July 9, 2007, a lower court Judge allowed jailed MNLF leader Misuari to attend a tripartite meeting in Saudi Arabia, which aimed to the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement between the Philippine government and MNLF. Misuari, however, failed to leave for failure to present a "sovereign guarantee" to return from the Saudi government. On December 20, 2007, Makati Regional Trial Court denied Misuari's petition for bail as he remained under house arrest in New Manila, Quezon City.

In August 2007, battles between the Philippine military and militants on the island of Jolo left at least 26 soldiers and 31 militants dead.  

On September 5, 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Amnesty Proclamation 1377 for members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army; other communist rebel groups; and their umbrella organization, the National Democratic Front. The amnesty had to be approved by the Congress.

The amnesty would cover the crime of rebellion and all other crimes "in pursuit of political beliefs," but not including crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom, use and trafficking of illegal drugs and other crimes for personal ends and violations of international law or convention and protocols "even if alleged to have been committed in pursuit of political beliefs".

Active in 69 of 81 Philippine provinces, the communist New People’s Army rebels have been waging a protracted guerrilla war that has killed more than 40,000 people and stunted economic growth. The rebels were supported by rural communities, which also supplied them with young recruits. Philippine security forces laimed they had reduced the number of communist rebels to a record low, 5,760 fighters as of 2008, destroying 13 NPA bases in 2007.

In mid-November, 2007 Arroyo created a cabinet-level task force to end political violence after putting Manila and provinces north and south of the capital under a state of alert.

In November 2007 renegade soldiers barricaded themselves in a luxury hotel in Manila after breaking out of court where they were standing trial for the failed 2003 mutiny, and called for the overthrow of President Gloria Arroyo "in order to end her unconstitutional and illegal occupation of the presidency," one of the leaders, Brig Gen Danilo Lim, wrote. About 1,500 government troops had surrounded the building before an armoured personnel carrier smashed through the main entrance. The renegades were all arrested.
Counting this one, Mrs Arroyo survived at least two coup plots and three attempts to impeach her during her time in office, by long-standing corruption allegations.

On February 18, 2008, about 6,000 U.S. soldiers held conventional and anti-terrorism drills with 2,000 Filipino troops during the two-week annual Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises in several areas in the country, including on Jolo.

At the beginning of 2008, the International Monitoring Team (IMT) overseeing the ceasefire between soldiers and insurgents in Mindanao was composed of 41 officers from the Malaysian Defense Forces, the Royal Malaysian Police, and the Prime Minister’s Department. The team was supported by 10 military officers from Brunei, 5 from Libya and 1 expert in "socio-economic monitoring" from Japan. 
During its mandate, the IMT members were well supported by the GRP and MILF in the conduct of their work. They are assured of cooperation and "free movement" from the soldiers of Armed Forces of the Philippines and the MILF, the GRP-MILF Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and Local Monitoring Teams (LMTs) in its field investigations. Nonetheless, they were escorted by GRP-MILF security during their activities at all times. In as much as the IMT wanted to disseminate information and publish its investigation reports for public interest, it was primarily bound to submit its reports to the GRP and the MILF Peace Panels. And since the IMT's creation was hinged on the consent and full cooperation of the conflict parties, the termination or suspension of their involvement was dependent on the uncooperative response and declining relationship between them. 
Since the International Monitoring Team arrived in 2004, fighting between security and rebel forces drastically decreased from 698 armed clashes in 2004 to just 7 incidents in 2007.

The difficulties of the ongoing GRP-MILF peace negotiations included intervals of cease fire violations, suspension of peace negotiations, administrative delays, from the conflict parties and the third party facilitator as well. The March 2007 governmental offer of self-determination to the Moros raised hopes for a durable peace deal but negotiations with the MILF then stalled for about a year over the issue of boundaries. A breakthrough was announced in November 2007 and  in January 2008. Jesus Dureza, the president's adviser on the peace process, said a mutually acceptable deal could be reached and sent a copy of the re-worded agreement on ancestral domain to Malaysia hoping to schedule a new round of talks by February, but he signalled that the government would need for congressional approval. On the other hand, the MILF feared if any deal was sent to Congress it would be watered down by the Christian majority, which happened to the 1996 peace agreement with MNLF. Although President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo repeatedly said she wanted peace, hawks in her cabinet were opposed to giving large swathes of land to Muslims and politically powerful Christian clans in the south opposed a deal, so that many analysts had cast doubt on Manila's willingness to relinquish full control over one of the most resource-rich parts of the country.

The discontent among the Moros became an opportunity for a handful of jihadists, hiding in remote areas in the restive south, to train fresh recruits for bombing campaigns. While Indonesia had arrested hundreds of militants allegedly linked to JI, foreign jihadists continued to operate in the Philippines, training recruits in bomb-making.

The decades-old conflict has already killed more than 120,000 people, displaced 2 million and kept millions more in dire poverty despite their region having billions of dollars worth of unexplored mineral wealth and fertile farmlands.

In February 2007 President Gloria Arroyo declared a week-long State of Emergency in response to alleged coup conspiracies involving members of the mainstream opposition in "tactical alliance" with rightists, communist rebels, leftist politicians and members of the military. Police enforced a ban on public assemblies and raided a newspaper office, threatening to shut down media outlets that failed to follow "responsible" reporting guidelines. Scores of people were arrested or threatened with arrest, particularly members of legal leftist political parties which were accused by government and military officials of links with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA). Dozens were arrested and charged with "rebellion" in the period following the alleged coup plot, including critics of the government.
In April 2007, President Arroyo announced the commutation of all death sentences. At least 1,230 prisoners had been sentenced to death since 1994. Death sentences were replaced with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Amid reports of ineffective investigations, and with witnesses and relatives of the victims too frightened to co-operate with the police, perpetrators were rarely brought to justice. In May the authorities set up a special police investigative task force. However, only a limited number of people were arrested and few cases were filed in court by the end of the year.
As military operations intensified, there were reports nationwide of arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and harassment of civilians suspected of being CPP-NPA supporters.
In October 2007 the Senate amended an Anti-Terrorism Bill, including by reducing the time suspects could be detained without judicial authority, and by withdrawing clauses extending law enforcement powers to the military.

Terror tactics are no monopoly of insurgents. Government forces have countenanced and at times even supported, particularly through the activities of paramilitary and vigilante groups, covert abductions, “salvagings” and killings of legal personalities suspected of collaborating or sympathizing with insurgents. For some on the government side, terror tactics can look like a cheap and convenient way to resolve certain issues and set up a deterrent without the inconvenience of going through the legal system. TFDP documented 152 cases of summary executions under the Ramos administration and 28 under Estrada, numbers which on the other hand can be compared with the estimated 2,500 summary executions under the Marcos regime.
The government is also responsible of carpet-bombing or the use of antipersonnel land mines, which hit mainly civilians.
Unarmed civilians have become casualties not only because they were attacked by soldiers, but because of the havoc wrought by the fighting. Together with the destruction of lives and livelihoods, war destroyed croplands, forests, water and sanitation systems, and other key resources that support communities.

The Philippine economy is growing at its fastest pace in 25 years with real GDP growth expected to exceed 7% in 2007. Higher government spending contributed to the economy's acceleration, but consumer spending and large remittances from the millions of Filipinos who work abroad have played an increasingly important role in the economy. The economy has averaged 5% real growth since President Macagapal-Arroyo took office in 2001, reflecting the continued resilience of the service sector, and improved exports and agricultural output. Nonetheless, it will take a higher, sustained growth path to make appreciable progress in the alleviation of poverty given the Philippines' high annual population growth rate and unequal distribution of income. Macagapal-Arroyo is also credited with improving the Philippines' fiscal balance by improving government tax collection efforts and tightening spending. Manila is now planning to step up a series of privatizations of large unprofitable public enterprises, especially in the energy sector, to further close the budget gap and raise capital to help finance new infrastructure projects. Credit rating agencies have at times expressed concern about the Philippines' ability to service its large private and public debt, though central bank reserves appear adequate and remittance inflows appear stable.

In the meanwhile the economy of Mindanao is growing. It contributes 34 per cent of the country’s total agricultural production; 44 per cent of domestic food trade; and 13 per cent of its total manufacturing output.
But the island has got serious environmental problems. Gold miners poison bodies of water by using mercury to process ores. Deforestation causes serious flooding in many parts of the island during the monsoon rains. And the loss of forest cover threatens to kill off many species, including the world’s largest eagle, the endangered Philippine eagle.

Estimates of economic losses due to the Mindanao conflict range from P5 billion to P10 billion annually from 1975 to 2002.

Read the Philippine Human Development Report 2005



LOCAL e-news
The Manila Times
Manila Bulletin
Philippine News
The Daily Tribune
Manila Standard Today

ABS-CBN Interactive
Amnesty International
CIA The World Factbook

Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05

Foreign Policy Association
HIIK - Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research

ICG - International Crisis Group

IRIN - Integrated Regional Information Networks
Library of American Congress
Mindanao State University
MIPT - The Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism

Project Ploughshares

Senate of the Philippines
Royal Hashemite Sultanate of Sulu & Sabah
SEACSN Bulletin
Swish of the kris - The Story of the Moros online
The Manila Times
UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
US Department of State



The Philippines has a total population of 91,077,287 as of July 2007, with a growth rate of 1.76%. (2,8 million live in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, 16 million in all Mindanao island group)

Ethnic groups
2000 census: Tagalog 28.1
Cebuano 13.1%
Ilocano 9%
Bisaya/Binisaya 7.6%
Ilonggo 7.5%
Bikol 6%
Waray 3.4%
other 25.3%
The great majority of the people of the Philippines belong to the Malay group and are known as Filipinos. Other groups include the Negritos (negroid pygmies) and the Dumagats (similar to the Papuans of New Guinea), and there is a small Chinese minority.

Official languages are Filipino (standardized version of Tagalog) and English (imposed by the Americans during the colonisation). More than 180 languages and dialects are spoken in the archipelago

About 94% of Filipinos are Christians, where 81% belong to the Roman Catholic Church, 2% composed of Protestant churches and 11% either to the Philippine Independent Church (Aglipayan), Iglesia ni Cristo and others.
Approximately 5% of Filipinos are Muslims. Muslim population among Mindanao island group make up to 20%

Life expectancy is 70.51 years.  65% of the population is up to 14 years old, being the median age less than 23.

Total literacy rate (2000 census) is 92.6% (92.5% for males and 92.7% for females).
The Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in the developing world.

Demographic data from 2007 CIA World Factbook

Economy: With their tropical climate, heavy rainfall, and naturally fertile volcanic soil, the Philippines are predominantly agricultural. Rice, corn, and coconuts take up about 80% of all cropland. Fishing is a common occupation.

The Philippines will need a higher, sustained growth path to make appreciable progress in the alleviation of poverty given the Philippines' high annual population growth rate and unequal distribution of income.  (CIA) 

GDP (PPP)(2006 est.)(CIA)
- Total $449.8 billion - Per capita $5.000
- Grow rate 5.4%

Gini coefficient 46.1 (high)(CIA 2003)

HDI 0.763 (84th) (UNDP 2006)

47.5% of the population live on less than $2 per day (UNDP 2006)

36.8% of the population live below national poverty line (UNDP 2006) 

Unemploy-ment rate 7.9% (2006 est.)(CIA)

Child labour 12% (5-14 year olds) (1999-2005) (UNICEF)

Under-five mortality rate 34‰ (UNDP 2006)

Military ex-penditures 0.9% of GDP (2005)(CIA)
The Armed Forces of the Philippines consists of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Due to its close relationship with the United States military establishment, the Armed Forces of the Philippines was in the past the strongest national defence programme in Asia — especially in the 1950s and 1960s. The expulsion of US military presence in 1992, cuts in funding by the Congress of the Philippines and the nature of Philippine politics has been cited as sources of decline of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in recent years.   
A strong security relationship between USA and the Philippines rests on the 1952 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). In February 1998, US and Philippine negotiators concluded the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), paving the way for increased military cooperation under the MDT. 
(Wikipedia/US Dep of State)

CIA Factbook
US Dep State

Ferdinand Magellan

Miguel López de Legazpi

José Rizal

Andres Bonifacio

Emilio Aguinaldo

Sultan Jamalul Kiram II

Senator Hadji Butu

Gen. Leonard Wood

Mjr. Gen. Tasker H. Bliss

Major General John J. Pershing

President Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur

President José Paciano Laurel y García

Bishop Gregorio Labayan Aglipay

President Sergio Osmeña

President Manuel Acuña Roxas

President Elpidio Rivera Quirino

Luis Taruc

President Ramon del Fierro Magsaysay

Benigno Servillano A. Aquino, Jr.

President Carlos Polistico Garcia

Diosdado Pangan Macapagal

President Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralín Marcos

Imelda Trinidad Romualdez-Marcos

Nur Misuari

Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi

Salamat Hashim

President María Corazón Sumulong Cojuangco-Aquino

President Fidel Valdez Ramos

Riduan Isamuddin "Hambali"

Osama bin Laden

Abdurajik Abubakar Janjalani

Khadaffy Janjalani

Jainal Antel Sali, Jr. alias Abu Sulaiman

President Joseph Ejercito Estrada

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim

Eduardo Ermita

Jesus Dureza

Ahmed Santos

José María Sison