The Mindanao Conflict in the Philippines


At the southern end of the Philippine archipelago, close to Indonesia and Malaysia, lies Mindanao — a large island about the size of Greece, with a current population of about 18 millio n. Contact with Mindanao by Muslim traders from today’s Indonesia and Malaysia long predated the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16 th century, and was responsible for the conversion to Islam of the inhabitants, and the formation of the Muslim Sultanates of Maguindanao and Sulu, among others, in the western part of the island. Spain subdued the northern island of Luzon (where Manila is located) and most of the “in - between” islands of the Visayas, converting most of the inhabitants to Catholicism, but never s ucceeded in controlling Mindanao. Only with the arrival of the Americans at the turn of the 20 th century, and after the end of the Philippine - American War, was most of the island brought under central control, although hostility and conflict remained endemic.

Thus, persisting for some five centuries, the Mindanao conflict is the second - oldest on earth, after the conflict between North and South Sudan (which can be dated back to the 10 th century, or much earlier if one includes the continual strife between Egyptians and Nubians in Pharaonic times). The Philippines was comparatively calm for a period after independence in 1946, but conflict flared up again in the late 1960s as growing numbers of Christians settled in Mindanao. Settlers arrived particularly fr om Central Luzon and Panay Island in the Visayas. The resettlement was fostered by deliberate policy of the central government, in Manila, and eventually resulted in Mindanao having a Christian majority overall, with Muslim - majority areas concentrated in t he central and southwestern regions .

Source InstitutionWorld Bank
Source URL
Page Count23
Place of PublicationPasig City
Original Publication DateFebruary 1, 2005