Island Wilayat Rising? Stemming the tide of violent extremism after Marawi

Thanks to a few twists of fate, I’ve got a short (read: heavily redacted) piece on Marawi  published by the Australian National University’s East Asia Forum. It comes in several weeks later than I’d like, but at any rate, I’m posting here an earlier unedited and less circumspect version, written roughly two, three weeks ago.

Marawi was a victory for Islamist extremism in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. The next choices taken by the Philippine government will determine the extent of its spread.

 

It has been more than sixty days since the outbreak of violence in the Islamic City of Marawi, just over 500 miles south of Manila, and kilometre zero of the island-region of Mindanao. What started in the morning of May 23 has led to over 314,000 persons displaced. More than half of the lakeside city is in ruins; approximately 100 civilians and hostages are still trapped in the crossfire. Aerial bombardments and house-to-house fighting continue. As the first widespread incident of urban violence in the Philippines—its partial precursors being Zamboanga in 2013, Ipil in 1995 and the razing of Jolo in 1974—the impact of the Marawi siege is unprecedented, not least in its implications to the rise of violent extremism in the region.

While the reported death of Abu Bakr Baghdadi and the jihadi group’s losses at Mosul and Raqqa signal a transformation of Daesh presence in the Middle East, Marawi by all accounts was a victory for islamist terrorism in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. From a ragtag group of ‘black flag wannabes’ that could barely stage a bomb attack on the US Embassy in Manila in 2016, the Maute group now has enough street cred to attract international interest and support. They have achieved what others have failed to do: signal to the disgruntled and marginalised that violent extremism, particularly through urban warfare, is a viable path forward.

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Implementing Peace and Development in the Bangsamoro: Potentials and Constraints of Socio-Economic Programs for Conflict-Affected Areas in Southern Philippines (1913-2015)

Even as an early-career institution-less wannabe scholar and development worker, I’ve always tried to walk the fine line between theory and practice, research and ground operations. I’ve given up on getting my shit proper journal peer-reviewed so in case anyone has any interest in reading a very roughly written attempt at a history of government development programs for ARMM from 1913-2016, focusing particularly on the mainland (Maguindanao, with spillovers in Ranao)–here you go.

Download a pdf here: Fernandez – P&D in the Bangsamoro 2017-06-20

Main point being to look at potentials and constraints, especially (!) on the sins committed. A key limitation: it looks purely on government policies and interventions, and not on international donor interventions. This is partly true due to data constraints, but also because local decisions and choices will largely determine if any true transformation can arise. And I say this as someone who has served in government but whose bills have been paid for the past few years by the multilaterals.

Continue reading “Implementing Peace and Development in the Bangsamoro: Potentials and Constraints of Socio-Economic Programs for Conflict-Affected Areas in Southern Philippines (1913-2015)”

Lupa

Writing this quick note to process one of the many strange developments of the week, which included my being roped in last minute to present a study conducted by the World Bank and the International Organization for Migration on marginalization through land dispossession in the Bangsamoro region. Presentations are part of my usual day-to-days but this was unusual—it was a launch at Camp Darapanan, the present headquarters of the largest armed revolutionary group in the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (or MILF, read as M-I-L-F, not the lewd joke familiar to most westerners).

It just so happened that our lead author, Dr. Fermin Adriano, was unable to fly to Cotabato and our rather crazy and generous team leader, Matt, chose to gleefully task me with translating the key technical messages in a vernacular that would be understood by the larger audience, and not just the international actors and VIPs present in the room. And that entailed being the lost young female non-Muslim, non-Mindanawon pseudoacademic on the dais with Mindanao peace process heavy hitters such as Ishak Mastura, Guiamel Alim, Rufa Guiam, peace panel chairs Mohagher Iqbal and Irene Santiago, plus the amerul mujahid himself, Al-haj Murad Ebrahim. Kumbaga sa Tagalog, pinabili lang ng suka, napadpad na sa Darapanan. (Which actually describes a fair chunk of the seven years of this life, to be fair.)

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Transformation –> Relationships. Or, stitching together our wounded world

Originally posted on Facebook on 26 May 2013.



I was asked to give a short talk yesterday for an event honoring volunteers working with Hands on Manila. I wasn’t even supposed to be there, but a friend had recommended me to her friend who happened to be one of the organizers and well, that was that. The talk and the slides were hastily assembled about two hours before the whole shebang and it was mostly pulled out of my ass (and the deepening conversations with friends just before that), so this is an attempt to get it out of my head and write it down in a more coherent form.

Transformation –> Relationships. Or, stitching together our wounded world.

Hi, my name is Ica. I won’t talk about the work I do, because I wear a lot of hats, and most importantly, because everyone here is a carrier or volunteer of some kind of awesome initiative anyway, and I don’t think my initiatives are more important than those of you kindness revolutionaries here. (I salute all of you.)

What I do want to talk about tonight though is something that I believe is at the core of any kind of work that aims towards “social transformation”–may it be classical development work, volunteerism, charity, whatever you want to call it. Everyone in this room knows this, on some level, but let me put it out there: at the end of the day, change making is all about relationships. Let me say it again. Relationships. And that entails the relationships we have with ourselves, with each other, and with our world/s.

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On Typhoon Pablo, DRRM and systems thinking

Written for PLAN 210. Unfortunately I seem to have waylaid the diagram mentioned here–maybe I can get around to resketching it, someday.

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One emerging challenge for local governments is disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM), or the need to holistically respond to extreme climate events that increasingly pose threats to life and property. This can be seen in the recent experience of Typhoon Pablo, which completely devastated many municipalities in the eastern seaboard of Mindanao. As per the 17 January 2013 report of the DSWD Disaster Risk Reduction and Response Operations Office (DRRROO), a total of total of 504,857 families with 2.2 million persons have been affected in 2,631 barangays, 292 municipalities, 35 cities, 33 provinces in 10 regions, with particular emphasis on Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley and some parts of the Caraga Region. Although the onslaught of said typhoon was experienced as a single event (cited as a once-in-a-century storm) that has direct linear effects, further analysis of the situation reveals complex cyclical cause-effect patterns that must be factored into any plan of action.

Continue reading “On Typhoon Pablo, DRRM and systems thinking”

God Knows Hudas Not Pay

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Bumper sticker found on a tricycle plying the Brgy.Malamig-Boni MRT Station route. Late as I was, couldn’t help but chuckle thanks to this reminder of just how powerful Culture and flies-in-the-ointment can be. After which, a thought bubble: sino kaya ang nagbayad sa pagpapalimbag nito? Dun-dun-dun.

Now if only someone would make a Tito Sotto version.