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Urban, religious violence spike in Bangsamoro: Study

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By Anna Gabriela A. Mogato

THE Bangsamoro region of Mindanao saw a spike in urban violence as well as inter- and intra- religious identity violence last year, a new report found. This, despite the drop in rebellion-related violence.

International Alert Philippines’ Conflict Report 2018 pointed to a string of increasing conflict caused and reinforced “by the cycle of violence in the Bangsamoro.”

The study also noted that there is a “newly-emerging strand of violence extremism” due to these combatants having experienced struggles in the past, mostly related to politics, land disputes, and identity.

The study cited the recently-formed Maute Group/Dawlah Islamiya and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters as having branched out from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front, shifting their alliance to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

International Alert Senior Peace and Conflict Adviser for Asia Francisco J. Lara Jr. said in a Tuesday press briefing at the World Bank office in Taguig City that last year’s five-month siege in Marawi City was a “product” of the unrest in the region, not a cause.

“We need to look at conflict as a string of violence running alongside the main cause,” Mr. Lara said.

“We saw the case of BIFF and the Maute which had not been resolved despite having been neutralized,” he added.

International Alert Country Manager Nikki de la Rosa noted that there should still be ongoing consultations among the government, traditional leaders and clans in the region to ensure lasting peace amid the ongoing Bangsamoro transition.