Wednesday, July 23, 2014

UN Timeline Chronology for Moros in the Philippines

TitleChronology for Moros in the Philippines
PublisherMinorities at Risk Project
Publication Date2004
Cite asMinorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Moros in the Philippines, 2004, available at: [accessed 24 September 2012]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Chronology for Moros in the Philippines

Feb 1990Elections were held in the newly-created Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The candidate favored by President Aquino, Zacaria Candao (formerly the legal representative for the MNLF), was elected to the governorship of Muslim Mindanao. In November 1989, a referendum was held in 13 provinces and nine cities in Mindanao on proposed legislation envisaging autonomy for these areas, with direct elections to a unicameral legislature in each province. This plan is in contrast with the MNLF's demand for autonomy in 23 provinces, to be granted without a referendum. The MNLF appealed, with limited success, to the Muslim population (about 28% of the inhabitants of the region) to abstain from participating in the referendum. The Christian population (about 66% of the regional population) was largely opposed to autonomy. Only four provinces, a non-contiguous amalgamation (Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Tawi-tawi and Sulu) voted in favor of the autonomy plan and formed the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.
Jun 1990The newly-elected Governor Zacaria Candao was confronted by an outbreak of serious fighting that arose due to a dispute between rival family clans.
Oct 1990The autonomous administration assumed some degree of credibility when President Aquino granted limited executive powers to the Candao government. An official statement said that the functions of the departments of public works, labor and employment, local government, environment and natural resources, tourism, science and technology and social services had all been transferred to the Autonomous Regional Government.
Mar 199113 Muslim rebels were killed by the government troops in sporadic fighting in Mindanao. A power transmission tower was blasted by a rebel bomb in the south.
May 1991A free trip to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the pilgrimage is being offered as an incentive to rebels who turn in their guns.
Jul 1991In its annual report, Amnesty International accused both the Philippine government and the rebels of gross human rights violations. Government troops killed 30 Muslim kidnappers after a sea chase. A delegation of government-backed Muslims have visited Gulf countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia to seek Arab investment in the development of the southern Philippines. The delegation was headed by Candao.
Dec 1991The Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) summit meeting held in Dakar, Senegal, has voiced its support for the agreement between the government of the Philippines and the MNLF to resume peace talks. The MNLF failed to win OIC membership; currently, it has observer status.
May 1992National elections were held to select the President, Vice-President, 24 Senators, 200 members of the House of Representatives and 17,014 local officials. More than 100 people were killed in outbreaks of violence during the pre-election period. General Fidel Ramos, who was the defense minister under the Aquino government, and Joseph Estrada, formerly a popular movie actor, were elected President and Vice-President respectively.
Sep 1992The new President's priority of achieving peace was institutionalized through the establishment of a National Unification Commission (NUC), headed by former Election Commissioner Haydee Yorac, a University of the Philippines Law Professor. The first law passed during the Ramos administration, Republic Act 7636, among other things, repealed the 35-year old anti-subversion law.
Feb 1993A Philippine marine patrol was ambushed on the southern Mindanao island of Basilan. Twenty-five marines were killed, making this the worst ambush in the corp's history. The event has prompted a renewed military crackdown on elements of the MNLF. The ambush was reported to be in retaliation for the rape of a Muslim woman.
Apr 1993An agreement to begin peace talks before the end of June was announced after a meeting in Jakarta between MNLF leader Nur Misuari and a Philippine government panel headed by congressman and former army general Eduardo Ermita. While Misuari publicly stuck to his old position of seeking independence, the joint communique recognized that national sovereignty and territorial integrity will prevail in any negotiations between the two sides. Philippine officials described Libya as the prime mover behind the April 14-16 meeting. The government has agreed to allow the OIC to act as a facilitator at the talks, scheduled to be held somewhere in Mindanao.
Jun 1993Government troops have killed 17 Muslim rebels, who have increased their activities in view of the impending autonomy negotiations. Rebels toppled an electric transmission tower, plunging 37 towns into darkness. In its report, the National Unification Commission recommended to the President that the granting of amnesty to all rebels in the country is a way attaining peace.
Jul 1993President Ramos named Justice Minister Drilon as a Peace Advisor until a permanent agency is set up to oversee negotiations with the rebels. The NUC has presented its report to the President, thus completing its mission. The President also appointed Retired General Manuel Yan, a former ambassador, as chief negotiator for talks with the MNLF. The talks were supposed to start before June 30; however, disagreements over the venue have led to a postponement.
Nov 1993An interim ceasefire agreement has been signed in Jakarta between the MNLF and the Philippine government. The accord also set up a committee to tackle the problems of Muslims in Mindanao. 75 rebels of the MNLF Lost Command, a term used for a radical splinter group of the MNLF headed by Abu Sayyaf, surrendered to the government after 4 months of negotiations.
Dec 1993Christian gunmen threw a grenade into a mosque in the southern Philippines, eight hours after explosions inside a nearby Roman Catholic Church killed 7 people and wounded 151 others. No one claimed responsibility for the church attack, but it is believed to be the work of the MNLF Lost Command, which is trying to derail the peace talks (UPI, 12/27/93).
Oct 1994President Ramos paid an official visit to Saudi Arabia. While meeting Saudi officials, Philippine government representatives described various efforts to improve the situation of Muslims in the Philippines.
Dec 1994The "Final Statement" of the OIC summit held in Morocco recorded with satisfaction the positive developments in the situation of the Muslims in the Philippines (UPI, 12/19/94).
Feb 1995Muslim guerrillas, believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf group, released two of the five government workers they had held hostage since last November.
Mar 1995President Ramos paid an official visit to Iran. While meeting his Iranian counterpart, Ramos described his government's efforts to resolve the Muslim problem including the implementation of Sharia Law in the area. He said, "We are endeavoring to resolve the problems of the Muslims in the Moro region peacefully" (BBC, 03/13/95). Twelve high-ranking leaders of the heavily-armed Abu Sayyaf group have been captured by government forces, officials said. However, the top leader could not be captured. Government forces confiscated 37 high-powered rifles and mortars during the operation (UPI, 03/20/95).
Apr 1995Around 200 Muslim rebels, reportedly members of an extremist group led by Abu Sayyaf, raided three banks and attacked buildings and civilians in the town of Ipil on Mindanao island. Authorities state that over 45 people were killed and another 40 injured. This was reported to be the worst single violent attack in the 20-year Muslim insurgency. Authorities believe that two other rebel organizations, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were also involved in the attack (Reuters, 04/05/95).
Apr 6, 1995A spokesman for the MNLF denied that members of the group took part in the attack at Ipil. He indicated that the Abu Sayyaf group, the MILF, and members of the breakaway faction of the MNLF were responsible. The MNLF and the government are set to resume peace talks in June in Indonesia (Reuters, 04/06/95).
Apr 10, 1995A government minister says the Abu Sayyaf group is deeply opposed to peace talks and it has put mainstream MNLF leader Nur Misuari on a "hit list". Misuari now lives in exile in Jeddah. The minister states that the Ipil attack was meant to provoke a war between Muslims and Christians. Ipil was once a Muslim majority town but it now has a Christian majority as people have moved in from other areas of the Philippines (Reuters, 04/10/95).
Apr 11, 1995A new Muslim group calling itself the Islamic Command Council of the MNLF has claimed "full responsibility" for the violent attack on Ipil. Officials believe that the Abu Sayyaf group was responsible for the incident (Reuters, 04/11/95).
Apr 13, 1995Government troops have killed 39 Muslim rebels who reportedly launched last week's raid on Ipil (Reuters, 04/13/95).
Apr 22, 1995Philippine warplanes bombed an island near the city of Zamboanga killing four Muslim rebels and wounding six others (Reuters, 04/22/95).
May 1995The MNLF has agreed to help the government battle "lawless elements" in the south (Reuters, 05/03/95).
May 21, 1995A 15 year development plan for Mindanao was unveiled by President Ramos. The plan will focus on improving the region's infrastructure, modernizing fish processing and establishing crop and livestock production and processing centers (Reuters, 05/21/95).
May 29, 1995The government has detained twenty-one Muslims, alleging that they are were about to launch an attack on a major city in the southern islands. Meanwhile, the MNLF has accused Manila of violating a ceasefire when it bombed rebel-controlled areas in late April (Reuters, 05/29/95).
Jun 1995A gun battle between members of the Abu Sayyaf group and security forces on Basilan Island resulted in the deaths of 15 rebels and 7 soldiers. The government states that the Sayyaf group has links with Ramzi Ahmed Yousef who is on trial in New York in connection with the World Trade Center bombing (Reuters, 06/07/95).
Jun 23, 1995Another round of talks between the Manila government and the MNLF has concluded. A spokesman for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which is mediating the talks, says that 75 to 80% of the issues have been resolved. Further meetings will be held next month (Reuters, 06/23/95).
Jul 1995Philippine and foreign investors have signed agreements worth some $80 million to develop Mindanao (Reuters, 07/02/95).
Jul 4, 1995A member of the Abu Sayyaf group was killed and one soldier injured when the army rescued three teachers that were being held for a ransom. Around 60 schools were closed in Mindanao as more than 2000 teachers launched a protest, fearing they might be the next kidnap victims (Reuters, 07/04/95).
Jul 27, 1995MNLF leader Nur Misuari says that he has the support of the MILF to undertake peace talks with the government. The MILF split from the MNLF in the early 1980s over Misuari's leadership (Reuters, 07/27/95).
Sep 1995The leader of the MNLF says that Sharia law will apply to Muslims in the southern Philippines. However, Nur Misuari indicates that Christians will be allowed to be governed by Christian law (Reuters, 09/12/95).
Oct 1995A breakaway faction of the MNLF killed six soldiers and then released seven teachers that they had abducted on Basilan island (Reuters, 10/01/95).
Oct 19, 1995Clashes between soldiers and Muslim rebels in Maguindanao province resulted in the deaths of six people (Reuters, 10/19/95).
Nov 1995Clashes between government soldiers and MNLF members on Basilan island have broken a ceasefire between the two sides. The incident occurred when troops entered a rebel camp. Both sides suffered casualties (Reuters, 11/16/95).
Nov 2, 1995One person was killed and eighteen injured when grenades were hurled at a market on Mindanao. Authorities do not know which group was responsible for the attack (Reuters, 11/28/95).
Nov 27, 1995Three villagers were killed on Mindanao by members of a Muslim rebel group (Reuters, 11/27/95).
Dec 1995An interim agreement was signed by the MNLF and Manila following five days of peace talks in Indonesia. The agreement covers areas such as education, economic and financial systems, and the autonomous area's proposed government and administration. However, key issues still remain including the integration of the rebels into the military and the government's demand that a referendum be held to approve the proposed autonomous region. Muslims are now reported to make up only 40% of Mindanao's population (Reuters, 12/01/95).
Dec 5, 1995President Fidel Ramos has unilaterally ordered a month-long ceasefire during the Christmas holiday season (Reuters, 12/05/95).
Dec 9, 1995Members of the MNLF are reported to be responsible for the killing of four rubber traders in the remote town of Kabasalan. Five people were also injured (Reuters, 12/09/95).
Dec 13, 1995A clash between the MILF and a Christian militia named Ituman resulted in the deaths of five Ituman members (Reuters, 12/13/95).
Jan 4, 1996A 1995 Philippine Defense Department report indicates that membership in Abu Sayyaf rose 12%, from 580 to 650, in 1995. The combined strength of the MNLF and the MILF grew 11%, from 22,330 in 1994 to 24,870 by last November. The leader of Abu Sayyaf, Libyan-trained Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, 32, is now the most wanted criminal in the Philippines; the group is reported to have links with Ramzi Yousef, the main suspect in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing (Japan Economic Newswire, 01/04/96).
Jan 7, 1996The 4th round of talks between the MNLF and the govt will resume in Jakarta next month. Five major issues remain unresolved -- the timing of a plebiscite to set up the autonomous government; the geographic scope of autonomy; the number of MNLF forces to be integrated in the army and the national police; revenue-sharing in the autonomous area; and the establishment of a regional security force (Xinhua News Agency, 01/07/96).
Jan 11, 1996MNLF leader Nur Misuari refuses a government offer to lead the ARMM, sticking to the MNLF demand for "more meaningful autonomy”.
Jan 11, 1996The MILF accuses the government of violating a truce agreement by deploying over 900 soldiers in the area of an irrigation project in North Cotabato province. The $65.4 million project was halted in 1994 following battles between the MILF and the government that left over 50 people dead (UPI, 01/11/96; Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/11/96).
Feb 29, 1996Several mayors and provincial governors in the south refuse to participate in a meeting with MNLF leader Nur Misuari to help prepare the region for autonomy (UPI, 02/29/96).
Feb 29, 1996After 20 years of hostilities, the MNLF and a rival Christian movement, the Illaga, form an alliance to promote peace and development in the south (UPI, 02/29/96).
Mar 2, 1996Talks between the government and the MNLF, under the auspices of the OIC, break down over the issue of setting up a Muslim provisional government. Manila wants to hold a plebiscite before a provisional government is established while the MNLF wants the government set up by presidential edict as it fears that the Christian majority will reject autonomy. Representatives of the OIC and MNLF leader Misuari warn that the failure of the negotiations could strengthen the hands of radical groups such as the Abu Sayyaf (Reuters, 03/02/96 & 03/03/96).
Mar 5, 1996The second largest Muslim group in the Philippines, the MILF, throws its support behind efforts by the MNLF to ensure that autonomy in the south will include the 13 provinces and 9 cities that were first outlined in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/05/96).
Mar 11, 1996The bombing of two Roman Catholic Churches in Zamboanga leaves 12 people injured. Authorities believe that Abu Sayyaf is responsible for this attack along with numerous others bombings during the past three years (Bangkok Post: Reuter Textline, 03/11/96).
Mar 20, 1996The MILF accuses the Philippine military of using nerve-gas bombs on the southern island of Mindanao. The military denies the charges, stating that it does not possess any such weapons (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/20/96).
Apr 4, 1996President Fidel Ramos orders the armed forces to help halt a wave of bombings on Mindanao. Abu Sayyaf is reported to be responsible for eight bombs that have exploded in the past three weeks (Reuters, 04/04/96).
Apr 10, 1996Battles between the MILF and government forces in North Cotabato result in 11 deaths (United Press International, 04/10/96).
Apr 18, 1996A seven-point agreement is reached between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to halt hostilities on Mindanao. Thirty-four people have died in battles during the last two weeks (UPI, 04/18/96).
Apr 24, 1996President Fidel Ramos states that he will never impose martial law in order to deal with separatism in the south (Reuters, 04/24/96).
May 1, 1996Officials claim that the MILF suffered a major defeat in gun battles with the military in early April, revealing that it is not in a position to survive an all-out war with the country's armed forces. The MILF states that it will abide by any agreement reached between the government and the MNLF, providing it does not compromise on full autonomy (The Straits Times, Singapore, 05/01/96).
May 14, 1996The Philippines government has reportedly devised a compromise in order to help break the deadlock in its negotiations with the MNLF. Under the proposal, Muslim rebels would take part in peacekeeping and development in Mindanao for at least two years. After that, a plebiscite would be held to determine the level of support for the provisional authority. Muslim groups have repeatedly warned of a renewed war if the current peace talks fail (Reuters, 05/14/96).
Jun 3, 1996Some member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference are holding talks in Jakarta aimed at addressing the deadlock in the negotiations between the Philippines government and the MNLF. The representatives from Bangladesh, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Indonesia are discussing issues such as a plebiscite and the geographical reach of the autonomous area. The Philippines government and the MNLF are in attendance (UPI, 06/03/96).
Jun 5, 1996A breakthrough has been reached in talks in Jakarta between the Philippines government and the Moro National Liberation Front. Although no specific details were provided, it appears that a government compromise plan unveiled on May 14 helped break the deadlock over the two sides’ differing interpretations of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement. Indonesia heads an OIC ministerial committee that is brokering the talks (Reuters, 06/05/96).
Jun 20, 1996The Philippines government and the MNLF fail to agree on the issue of integrating rebel forces into the army. This is one of the main issues blocking an agreement that would establish an MNLF transitional body to supervise development in the southern Mindanao region (Reuters, 06/20/96).
Jun 23, 1996Following three days of talks between government and MNLF negotiators, an agreement is reached to establish the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development. The Council, which will be run by the MNLF and guided by a consultative assembly of local officials and representatives from NGOS, is expected to pave the way for an autonomous region. Fourteen provinces and nine cities in the south will be governed by the council; this is basically the region that was laid out under the 1976 Tripoli Agreement. A plebiscite will be held in 1999 to determine if the region’s residents want to continue the council's rule. However, two key issues still remain unresolved: an MNLF demand to establish its own regional police force and the integration of the rebels into the national army. These issues will be tackled by a special working group (Reuters, 06/23/96).
Jun 25, 1996A Christian Congresswoman from Zamboanga is threatening to lead mass demonstrations to protest the establishment of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development. Church officials have also expressed concern over the role Muslim rebels will play in governing the region (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/25/96).
Jul 2, 1996As he arrives in Zamboanga, President Fidel Ramos is greeted by around 20,000 Christians protesting the peace agreement with the MNLF. Ramos is traveling in the region to garner support for the accord (Reuters, 07/02/96).
Jul 8, 1996The Roman Catholic Church urges President Ramos to defer a peace agreement with the Moros, warning that its implementation could lead to war by the Christian majority in the area (Reuters, 07/08/96).
Jul 10, 1996At least 29 governors, vice governors, mayors, and congressmen in Mindanao sign a resolution expressing their support for a Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) (Xinhua News Agency, 07/10/96).
Jul 12, 1996MNLF leader Nur Misuari states that he will seek the governorship of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao in elections this September. He will run under a coalition with President Ramos' Lakas Party. The MNLF leader says his decision signals the return of the entire MNLF to the constitutional fold (Reuters, 07/12/96).
Jul 14, 1996Philippine President Fidel Ramos has sent a letter to Indonesian President Suharto thanking his country and the OIC's Committee of Six for their help in peace talks with the MNLF. Ramos states that the breakthrough in the talks would not have been possible without the consistent support they provided (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 07/14/96).
Jul 15, 1996MNLF chief Misuari threatens to withdraw from September elections for the governorship of the ARMM unless he is confirmed as the head of the proposed Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development. Misuari's leadership of the SPCPD was part of the agreement reached between the two sides. However, some politicians argue that, legally, officials are barred from simultaneously holding two positions. Meanwhile, around 15,000 Christians in General Santos City protest against the peace deal (Reuters, 07/15/96).
Jul 17, 1996President Fidel Ramos states that his secret meeting with Libyan leader Qaddafi in February 1992 began the process of the current peace talks with the MNLF. During the early and mid-1970s, Libya provided key financial and military support to the Moro rebels. Ramos' trip occurred in the midst of his election campaign for the presidency (Reuters, 07/17/96).
Jul 18, 1996The National Ecumenical Consultative Committee, a religious advisory arm to the President, expresses support for the creation of the SPCPD. The Committee is composed of Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim groups. The 1990 government census reveals that only 5 of the 14 provinces the SPCPD will govern have a Muslim population of over 50% (UPI, 07/18/96).
Jul 23, 1996In a letter to OIC Secretary-General Hamid Algabid, President Ramos says that he is committed to establishing the Muslim council despite opposition from Christians. During his State of the Nation address, the President calls upon all Filipinos to support the peace proposal (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 07/22/96; Reuters, 07/23/96).
Jul 30, 1996The government says that it has spent US $2.78 billion during the last 26 years in its conflict with the Moros. It also states that of the 100,000 recorded casualties, half were Moro rebels while government troops accounted for 30% and innocent civilians the remaining 20% (Xinhua News Agency, 07/30/96).
Aug 2, 1996The government and the MNLF agree on the integration of 7500 MNLF members into the military and police services, removing one of the major issues left to be resolved (Xinhua News Agency, 08/02/96).
Aug 3, 1996Rejecting the peace agreement between the government and the MNLF, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front vows to continue the battle for "genuine Muslim autonomy". The military estimates that the MILF has a strength of 20,000 compared to the MNLF's 25,000 members (Xinhua News Agency, 08/03/96).
Aug 15, 1996Chief government negotiators Manuel Yan and Eduardo Ermita and the leader of the MNLF will initial the peace agreement in Jakarta at the end of the month. It will be formally signed in Manila the following week (Reuters, 08/15/96).
Aug 16, 1996Informal talks have begun between the government and the MILF. The government is also concerned about other splinter groups such as Abu Sayyaf and the Islamic Command Council but has not stated whether it will also open talks with them (Xinhua News Agency, 08/16/96).
Aug 19, 1996The first meeting in 10 years is held between President Ramos and MNLF leader Misuari in Malabang. The two are finalizing the peace plan (08/19/96).
Aug 23, 1996The Philippines Senate gives its unanimous support to President Ramos' peace proposal for Mindanao. However, the Senate reiterates its demand for some amendments that will be considered before the executive order is signed to create the southern council (Xinhua News Agency, 08/23/96).
Aug 30, 1996An accord to end the Moro insurgency is initialed today by government negotiator Manuel Yan and MNLF leader Misuari in Jakarta. President Ramos states that proposed amendments such as making the study of Islam in schools optional rather than mandatory should diffuse Christian opposition. The OIC, which has facilitated and mediated the talks, may continue its involvement in the peace process. This could be through the creation of an interim OIC monitoring team. Indonesian President Suharto says the accord is the result of four rounds of formal talks in Jakarta, three international consultations, and at least 70 other meetings in the Philippines (Reuters, 08/30/96; The Straits Times, Singapore, 08/31/96).
Sep 1, 1996The peace agreement between the Philippines government and the MNLF is formally signed in Manila on Monday, September 2. Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and OIC Secretary General Hamid Algabid are present at the ceremony (UPI, 09/01/96).
Sep 2, 1996Alex Magno, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, says that the peace agreement "allows the MNLF to reach a political settlement...without losing face and losing honor". Magno also states that it "allows the Philippine government to signal that western Mindanao is now a peaceful place, [it] is our front door to the southeast Asian common market and is now open for business". The Philippines government is forming a special "growth zone" that includes southwestern Mindanao and parts of Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia in order to promote trade and development and break down barriers between economically deprived areas. Magno expects that the MILF will eventually join the peace process, isolating the few hundred members of Abu Sayyaf, and that perhaps the greatest threat might emerge from Christian extremists (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 09/02/96). A recent UNDP study found that functional literacy ranges from 48.1 to 68.7% in the ARMM compared to the 1994 national average of 83.8%. Life expectancy in the region averages in the fifties, the lowest in the country and below the national average of 66.9 years (Inter Press Service, 09/02/96).
Sep 3, 1996Abu Sayyaf denounces MNLF leader Nur Misuari as a traitor for signing a peace agreement with the government. It vows to continue the battle for an Islamic state (Reuters, 09/03/96).
Sep 11, 1996Nur Misuari is elected governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Misuari ran unopposed and is reported to have received 90% of the votes cast. The turnout is estimated at 80%. He will formally assume office on September 30. Meanwhile, President Ramos announces $1.2 billion in aid to develop the region (Reuters, 09/11/96; South China Morning Post, 10/01/96).
Oct 2, 1996President Ramos issues an executive order to create the Southern Philippines Peace and Development Council. The order clears the way for the appointment of Misuari as head of the body. Opponents of the council vow to challenge the legality of the order. One of Misuari's top priorities is expected to be convincing almost half a million refugees in Malaysia to return home. The refugees mainly fled to Sabah during the 1970s and while some have become Malaysian citizens, the strain on the Sabah economy has been an issue in Philippine-Malaysian relations (Agence France Presse, 09/24/96, 10/02/96).
Oct 8, 1996Nine Christian House of Representative Members and a Provincial Governor ask the Supreme Court to void the agreement to establish the autonomous Muslim region. They argue that Muslims would be ruling over Christian-majority areas. No date is given for a judgement (Reuters, 10/08/96).
Oct 22, 1996Nur Misuari is appointed as head of the SPCPD (Reuters, 10/22/96).
Oct 30, 1996Clashes between the MILF and the government claim at least 26 rebel lives this month. 11 soldiers are injured. Meanwhile, the wave of kidnappings in the south continues. Former rebels are reportedly responsible for the extortion efforts (Reuters, 10/30/96).
Nov 6, 1996The MILF begins exploratory talks with the government (Reuters, 11/06/96).
Nov 28, 1996The government declares a unilateral 60-day ceasefire against all armed groups. 7 soldiers die in clashes with the MILF (Reuters, 11/28/96).
Dec 4, 1996From 50-200,000 Muslims rally in Maguindanao province demanding a separate state. It is not known if the MILF organized the rally (Reuters, 12/04/96).
Dec 11, 1996At an annual meeting of donor countries and the Philippines government, $400 million is provided in grants to Mindanao along with $2.5 billion in loans. Half of the total amount is courtesy of Japan (Reuters, 12/11/96).
Dec 26, 1996Asiaweek reports that the Moro insurgency cost 100,000 lives -- half of these were rebel casualties, 30% were soldiers, and the rest civilians. Overall, the government spent $3 billion and an average 40% of its military budget to combat the Moros. Reports also reveal that per capita income in one of the four ARMM provinces is $159 while on Tawi Tawi (another province), average life expectancy is 53 years and the illiteracy rate is around 50% (Reuters, 12/26/96).
Jan 7, 1997Talks begin between the government and the MILF. They will meet again on February 25. Estimates are that the MILF has a force between 6-8,000 while Abu Sayyaf numbers in the several hundreds (Reuters, 01/07/97).
Jan 27, 1997A ceasefire is signed between the MILF and the government. Since the new year, at least 33 rebels and 4 civilians have died in various incidents (Reuters, 01/27/97).
Feb 4, 1997A Catholic bishop, the highest ranking priest in the south, has been killed. He was involved in efforts to unify the two religious communities. No one has claimed responsibility (Reuters, 02/04/97).
Feb 27, 1997The MILF and the government agree to create a panel of church people and lawyers to monitor their ceasefire (Reuters, 02/27/97).
Mar 23, 199710-13,000 Muslims protest following the deaths of 11 civilians reportedly due to army shelling that was directed toward rebel positions. President Ramos orders an investigation (Reuters, 03/23/97). In May, an independent probe determines that the civilian deaths are likely the result of army shelling (Reuters, 05/21/97).
Apr 6, 1997Since the peace agreement was signed last September, the federal government has allocated $1.6 billion for infrastructure development in the south (Reuters, 04/06/97).
Apr 23, 1997Talks resume between the government and the MILF. So far this month, at least 16 Abu Sayyaf members and up to 25 MILF rebels have died in confrontations with soldiers. A University of the Philippines political science professor says that while the agreement produced high expectations, it has been a big letdown. The professor worries that uneducated youth might join the remaining rebels. President Ramos has ordered the fast-tracking of development programs in Mindanao (Reuters, 04/23/97).
Apr 24, 1997The next round of talks between the MILF and the government are set for May 13-14 (Reuters, 04/23/97).
Apr 28, 1997Sri Lankan politicians assert that their government should follow the Manila model and involve separatists in all efforts at conflict resolution. The politicians returned from the Philippines where they observed such practices between the Moros and Manila. A peace plan to eliminate the Tamil insurgency is being prepared by Colombo but to date the LTTE has not been involved in the process (Reuters, 04/28/97).
Apr 29, 1997The MILF says that it is not responsible for a hotel fire in Cotabato on April 26 that resulted in 27 deaths, including MNLF members. The fire occurred two days before Nur Misuari was set to give a state of the region address. His talk was postponed. The MILF asserts that someone is trying to sow discord between the two organizations (Xinhua News Service, 04/29/97).
Apr 30, 1997The MILF is suspected in a grenade attack on the village of Pera, Zamboanga del Norte Province. There were no casualties. Since the middle of this month, 25 rebels have been killed by police in the area (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/30/97).
May 1, 199723 Abu Sayyaf and 25 MILF members surrender to police authorities (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/01/97).
May 2, 1997A reported MILF attack on a military detachment in Tungawan results in two deaths (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/02/97).
May 7, 1997The MILF fires rockets at a power station in Zamboanga Province (Lloyd’s List, 05/07/97).
May 9, 199718 MILF and 7 Abu Sayyaf rebels surrender and are given an amnesty package (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/09/97).
May 10, 1997Japan Economic Newswire reports increasing disgruntlement among the Moros due to the slow nature of the implementation of the autonomy accord. Residents are believed to be particularly concerned over the lack of economic development and the slow nature of the rehabilitation process of former MNLF rebels. This has raised concerns about a renewal of violence by MNLF members (05/10/97).
May 11, 1997Two rebels are dead following clashes between the MILF and soldiers in Maguindanao province (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/11/97).
May 12, 1997The MILF has denied it is responsible for the killing of an airline executive. Since 1993, kidnappings and deaths associated with these incidents have increased significantly in the south (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/12/97).
May 16, 1997The World Bank has given the Philippines a $10 million loan for small-scale livelihood and basic services projects in Mindanao. The funds will be distributed by the regional council. The loan is part of a $1.13 billion package the World Bank has allocated for 18 projects in the Philippines over the next three years (Japan Economic Newswire, 05/16/97).
May 17, 1997The government deploys the marines to the south to help deal with gangs that have engaged in numerous kidnappings over the past few years. Businesses in the region are threatening a week-long strike to protest the kidnappings (Straits Times, Singapore, 05/17/97).
May 18, 1997The Philippines military reports that some 1500 MNLF members have joined the MILF (Xinhua News Service, 05/18/97).
May 20, 1997President Ramos releases $203,800 US for poverty alleviation in the south. Low-level talks resume between a government-MILF committee (Xinhua News Service, 05/20/97).
May 27, 1997No progress is reported in talks between the MILF and the government. The two sides will meet again June 17-18 (Xinhua News Service, 05/27/97). Some 1100 MNLF members will begin training this week to promote their integration into the military. A total of 5500 former MNLF rebels will eventually join the armed forces (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/27/97).
Jun 16, 1997Two Abu Sayyaf rebels are killed in a police attack (Agence France Presse, 06/16/97).
Jun 18, 1997Eight rebels and one soldier die in a government operation to free hostages (UPI, 06/18/97).
Jun 27, 1997Up to 70 people are reported dead following numerous clashes between government troops and the MILF (Japan Economic Newswire, 06/27/97).
Jul 6, 1997Fighting between soldiers and the MILF continues. 18 persons have died in recent days. Some 70,000 residents have fled the area (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 07/06/97).
Jul 9, 1997The government implements a unilateral ceasefire (Xinhua News Service, 07/09/97).
Jul 21, 1997A ceasefire between the MILF and the government goes into effect (Asia Pulse, 07/21/97).
Aug 26, 1997MNLF leader Nur Misuari, who is the governor of the southern Muslim region and the head of the regional council, states that he now regrets signing the 1996 autonomy accord (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 08/26/97).
Sep 26, 1997Eleven are dead following clashes between soldiers and the MILF (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 09/26/97).
Oct 9, 1997The MILF kills one Muslim and one Christian after they are found guilty by the group’s shariah court (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 10/09/97).
Oct 15, 1997Two bombing attacks, reportedly by the MILF, occur in the south (Straits Times, 10/15/97).
Dec 28, 1997The government and the MILF agree to sign a preliminary peace accord before January 30, 1998 (AAP Newsfeed, 12/28/97).
Dec 31, 1997The Chief of Staff of the Philippines Armed Forces says that in 1997 the biggest threat to national security was the MILF (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 12/31/97).
Jan 1, 1998Another businessman is kidnapped in the south. Former MNLF rebels disgruntled over unkept government promises of livelihood assistance and benefits are reported to be responsible. This is the third incident in which the former MNLF rebels have resorted to kidnapping as an avenue to press the government to implement the rehabilitation program (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/01/98).
Jan 12, 1998President Fidel Ramos reportedly cancels a visit to Basilan province following threats by Abu Sayyaf to disrupt his arrival and bomb an oil depot. Government officials just state that the visit has been postponed until February (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/12/98).
Jan 13, 1998Abu Sayyaf members are reported to be responsible for the killings of four fishermen on Basilan island. The four did not allegedly pay the organization "revolutionary taxes" (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/13/98).
Jan 14, 1998Two Abu Sayyaf members are killed when government commandos respond to a robbery attempt on a bus in Zamboanga Province (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/14/98).
Jan 16, 1998Presidential candidate Jose De Venecia says that he is hopeful the MILF will sign a peace pact based on a government proposal that is similar to the "one country, two systems" approach that China implemented in Hong Kong. Venecia is the candidate hand-picked by President Ramos. The proposal calls for the Philippines to exercise authority over Christians in the south while the MILF or its appointed government rules over the Muslims. Venecia sidesteps the issue of the MILF’s use of shariah courts and its executions of those found guilty. Meanwhile, 4 MILF members and 1 militiaman are killed during two gun battles. A ceasefire between the two sides has been in effect since July of last year (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/16/98).
Jan 19, 1998The government has set up a military post consisting of around 100 personnel after 10 European nuns refuse to leave a monastery in South Cotabato province despite threats from former MILF members who are now allegedly comprise a kidnapping gang (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/19/98).
Jan 21, 1998The MILF threatens to indefinitely postpone talks with the government as a result of MILF-govt clashes on January 14. Each side accuses the other of violating the ceasefire. The MILF wants the government to withdraw from the vicinity of its main camps (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/21/98).
Jan 22, 1998Government negotiators call for an emergency meeting with the MILF to discuss three recent clashes that potentially threaten to derail peace talks. The latest battle on January 20 did not allegedly result in any casualties. The MILF says that a meeting is not possible due to the observance of the festival of Ramadan (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/22/98).
Jan 25, 199810 MILF members and 1 soldier are dead following clashes in Maguindanao province (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/25/98). The MILF again threatens to boycott upcoming February 4 talks with the government. The organization claims that it can mobilize one million fighters and has some 80,000 arms, including anti-aircraft weapons. The actual membership of the MILF is estimated at 10,000 (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/25/98).
Jan 26, 1998Around 5000 residents flee their homes as fighting between the MILF and government forces in Zamboanga and Maguindanao provinces results in the deaths of 10 rebels and 1 soldier (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/26/98).
Jan 27, 1998An emergency phone conference is held between government and MILF representatives to ensure that the February 4 talks proceed on schedule (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/27/98).
Jan 28, 1998The relatives of five men accuse the MILF of executing them under Islamic law. The MILF contends that they escaped from custody (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/28/98).
Jan 29, 1998The MILF accuses the government of amassing troops in Buldon town near its main camp in Maguindanao province in preparation for a full attack. The government denies the claims (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/29/98).
Jan 30, 1998Clashes between the MILF and government forces in Buldon town result in the death of one rebel (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/30/98).
Feb 1, 1998An MILF spokesman says that 85% of the group’s 30-member Central Committee wants to boycott upcoming talks with the government following recent ceasefire violations. This includes chairman Salamat Hashim (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/01/98).
Feb 2, 1998The MILF decides to attend the upcoming talks but demands that the government stop launching offensives (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/02/98).
Feb 4, 1998During the first day of talks between the government and the MILF, the rebel organization demands that its camps should be considered its legitimate territory. This is the first time the two sides have met since last November (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/04/98).
Feb 6, 1998Following two days of talks, the government and the MILF sign an agreement aimed at preventing future hostilities. Under the deal, the government will withdraw from hot spots near MILF camps. This is expected to help set the stage for formal peace negotiations. The two sides will meet again in late February (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/06/98).
Feb 14, 1998An MILF-MNLF skirmish is reported in North Cotabato province. The military is drawn in after one of their bases is attacked. Three rebels die as a result. This is the first confrontation between the MILF and government forces since a February 6 deal on preventing future battles (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/14/98).
Feb 19, 1998A business summit to lure investors, especially from the Middle East, is to be held in June in the south (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/19/98).
Feb 25, 1998The Philippines will give Indonesia $1 million worth of medicine to help deal with shortages due to the falling rupiah. The aid is in response to Indonesia’s previous help to the Philippines which includes the provision of rice and oil supplies and active mediation to help promote peace with the Moros (Agence France Presse, 02/25/98).
Mar 1, 1998The MILF says that it is still building its military forces despite its ongoing talks with the government. However, it asserts that it won’t launch a war unless all peaceful efforts fail. The next talks are set for March (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/01/98).
Mar 10, 1998Talks occur between the MILF and the government. The two sides agree to activate a quick response team that will monitor and draft proposals on ceasefire violations. It will assist an existing ceasefire monitoring team. The MILF asserts that the major issue blocking formal talks is its demand for government recognition of its 13 main and 20 sub-camps in Mindanao (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/10/98).
Mar 17, 1998Three people are injured following a bomb explosion in Isabela, the capital of Basilan province. This is the stronghold of Abu Sayyaf. This is the 5th bomb attack in the past 5 weeks. President Ramos has rejected talks with Abu Sayyaf, arguing that the rebels are criminals (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/17/98).
Mar 21, 1998The newly-established quick response team (composed of both government and MILF reps.) asserts that the government has failed to meet the 5 km. radius distance requirement in the withdrawal of troops from rebel hot spots. It says the forces have only moved 4 km. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/21/98).
Mar 23, 19986 MILF members are killed in gun battles with government troops in Zamboanga province. The government says they were criminals (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/23/98).
Mar 24, 1998A new Islamic faction, the Markaz Qulbon Suja’h (translated as the Center for the Brave), says that the government is actually responsible for the atrocities that is blames on Abu Sayyaf and the MILF. It says the government is seeking an avenue to allow President Ramos to stay in power as federal elections are set for May 11, and under the constitution, Ramos is not allowed to run again. By promoting disruptions, it argues that Ramos could be allowed to stay in power. No other information on the group is available (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/24/98).
Mar 24, 1998The MILF warns that fighting could escalate if the government doesn’t cease attacks on one of its camps in Zamboanga province (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/24/98).
Mar 25, 1998Three people are seriously injured in two bomb attacks in Ipil, Zamboanga province. Two other explosions occur in the state. It is not clear if the MILF or Abu Sayyaf is responsible (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/25/98).
Mar 25, 1998The World Bank approves three loans worth $79 million for the Philippines. Ten million will be used to improve social services in rural areas affected by the Moro insurgency (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/25/98).
Mar 30, 1998A radio journalist is shot dead in Zamboanga City. He was reported to be a critic of the MNLF (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/30/98).
Apr 2, 1998An area manager and the driver of a timber company are killed by the MILF in Zamboanga province. The company had reportedly refused to pay "revolutionary taxes" demanded by both the MILF or Abu Sayyaf (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/02/98).
Apr 4, 1998The Philippines army captures control of a Muslim rebel training camp in Zamboanga province. Also, former MILF members, who surrendered two years ago, threaten to blow up power lines in Lanao de Sur province if they do not get the livelihood funds that they are promised (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/04/98).
Apr 11, 1998A spokesman for Abu Sayyaf denies that his group held secret talks with the government to negotiate the surrender of its leader, Libyan-trained Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani. The governing party’s presidential candidate says that if elected, he will pursue talks with the group, indicating that such meetings have already occurred. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/11/98). The MILF says it recently provided Abu Sayyaf with weapons, including 10 grenade launchers (Ibid.).
Apr 13, 1998The MILF’s military chief, Al Haj Murad, says that if peace talks with the government fail, violence in the south will increase. Murad also states that his organization is building up its military and human resources. The government and the MILF are set to meet again in late April. At issue remains the MILF’s demand for recognition of its control of its camps and other territories (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/13/98).
Apr 14, 1998While the MILF warns its comrades not to actively participate in the upcoming May 11 federal elections, it says that its members can vote. The group indicates that it won’t disrupt the polls (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/14/98).
Apr 18, 1998Roman Catholic Church leaders and former MNLF members accuse Manila and southern Governor Misuari of not doing enough to help drought victims who are facing starvation. Some 2.6 million people are reported to be affected with 12 dead in recent weeks. The drought is blamed on El Nino. The government states that the problem is food shortages, rather than a drought (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/18/98).
Apr 27, 1998President Ramos urges Muslims in the south to press ahead with efforts to lure foreign investors, a process begun during his tenure. Indonesia remains among the biggest funders but others have been detracted due to continuing violence (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/27/98).
Apr 30, 1998President Ramos says the government has agreed to reposition soldiers in disputed areas in the south to prevent hostilities between the military and the MILF amid ongoing talks. Meetings on April 22-23 resulted in the two sides reaffirming a February agreement and continuing confidence-building measures. The next meeting on May 25 will discuss official recognition of the MILF’s 13 main camps and an agenda for formal peace talks (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/30/98).
May 2, 1998Unofficial comments by MILF and MNLF members warn of bloodshed if federal polls are held as planned on May 11. The members assert that electioneering is fostering massive corruption in local government units. The government has rejected proposals to postpone the elections (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/02/98). Meanwhile, reports indicate that numerous MILF members surrounded a local election rally in Lanao del Sur province but peacefully retreated some time later (Ibid.).
May 3, 1998An increasing number of violent incidents in Mindanao are alleged to pose a threat to upcoming federal polls. At least four people have died in four recent incidents (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/03/98).
May 4, 1998The MILF accuses the government of working with bandits to promote chaos in the south in order to discredit elections, thus allowing President Ramos to extend his term in office. President Ramos has denied the allegations, stating that he will relinquish power on June 30. Under the Philippines constitution, Presidents are only allowed to serve one term. The MILF also contends that its members did not disrupt a May 2 election rally in Lanao del Sur province (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/04/98).
May 6, 1998The government warns that Abu Sayyaf is planning bombings in key southern cities to disrupt next week’s federal elections. Half of the country’s armed forces have reportedly been deployed in southern regions to prevent election-related violence. The MILF reiterates that it will not disrupt the May 11 polls (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/06/98).
May 7, 1998SPCPD Governor Nur Misuari urges the Philippines Commission on Elections to postpone polls in most of Mindanao due to anomalies in voter registration including the reported padding of voter registration lists (Xinhua News Agency, 05/07/98). The government rejects his appeal (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/07/98).
May 11, 1998At least seven people are dead and poll failures are declared in 20 towns in Sulu following election-related violence. The dead include a former MNLF mayoral candidate (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/11/98).
May 11, 1998Vice-President Joseph Estrada, a former movie actor, achieves an overwhelming victory in federal elections to replace President Fidel Ramos.
May 19, 1998Soldiers overrun a suspected Abu Sayyaf camp in Basilan province after an ambush results in the death of one soldier. Abu Sayyaf blames the MILF for the ambush. Meanwhile, the MILF and government representatives are set to meet May 27-28 to develop an agenda for peace talks (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/19/98).
May 25, 1998The MILF, the Muslim Reform Party, the Islamic Missionary Movement, and the Confederation of Major Muslim Organizations of the Philippines urge Vice-President Estrada to appoint a Muslim to his cabinet. Previous leaders have not appointed Muslim members to their cabinets (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/25/98). The MILF has postponed talks with the government until a new administration is in place. Estrada will be sworn in as President on June 30. Muslim groups state that 47% of Muslims voted for Estrada (Ibid.).
May 28, 1998The MILF invites President-elect Estrada to visit its main camp, Camp Abubakar, to discuss the prospects for peace. In April, Estrada met with some MILF representatives (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/28/98).
May 30, 1998Some 20 MILF members storm a logging firm, killing one security guard. The motive is alleged to be the firm’s refusal to pay revolutionary taxes (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/30/98).
May 31, 1998President Ramos condemns this month’s nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan, asserting that an arms race will hurt the region’s economies. The MILF, however, expresses support for Pakistan’s tests, asserting that international censure, led by the US, is a campaign to prevent Muslim nations from becoming global powers. Some reports indicate that Pakistani extremist groups are allegedly providing financial aid and arms to the MILF (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/31/98).
Jun 6, 1998The military suspends offensives only against Abu Sayyaf in order to pave the way for peace talks between the rebel organization and the Basilan provincial government. Last month, Abu Sayyaf indicated that it was willing to hold talks with the new administration of Joseph Estrada (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/06/98).
Jun 8, 1998President Ramos and SPCPD Governor Nur Misuari will travel to Senegal next week to receive the 1997 Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize awarded by UNESCO. The prize is to honor their role in reaching a 1986 peace agreement (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/08/98). A three-day battle between government and MILF forces results in at least five rebel deaths in Zamboanga del Sur province. Officials claim that the MILF is responsible for a series of highway robberies in western provinces in the last six months (Ibid.). Efforts at extortion by the MILF are being reported to be behind two bomb explosions in the southern city of Ipil and Titay town. One civilian died in the incidents (Ibid.). Heightened tensions are reported in Sulu province as supporters of losing candidates in recent federal elections undertake protests, including the reported killing of a bodyguard assigned to a town mayor. The losing candidates are mostly former MNLF members who allege the elections were marred by widespread cheating (Ibid.).
Jun 9, 1998The MILF is suspected of attacking two villages and killing four people as part of gun battles with government forces in Tungawan town over the past few days. At least 9 rebels have been killed (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/09/98).
Jun 10, 1998A bomb destroys the Commission on Elections office in Sulu province’s capital, Jolo. Officials claim that the supporters of losing MNLF candidates are likely responsible. The incident coincides with recent protests by these supporters who allege cheating and the padding of voters’ lists in the recent elections (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/10/98). Six people die following a shootout between police members and former MNLF rebels at a checkpoint in General Santos City (Ibid.). Some 200 former MNLF members storm out of a Philippine military camp where there were undergoing training for integration into the country’s armed forces. They complain of strict rules and harassment. They are part of the third group of MNLF members to undergo a six month training program at an army camp in Zamboanga del Sur Province. Under the 1996 peace agreement, some 5500 MNLF members are to integrated into the armed forces while another 1500 will join the national police (Ibid.).
Jun 14, 1998The approximately 200 MNLF members who left their training camp (see above) have agreed to return. The government opens a formal inquiry into the trainees’ accusations of maltreatment, including charges that they were punching and kicked during drills. A military official asserts that the recruits are lazy and insubordinate. Last year, a group of MNLF recruits also left their army training camp asserting maltreatment. At least two drill sergeants were then dismissed after being found guilty of physical abuse (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/14/98).
Jun 15, 1998The police blame former MNLF members for three bombing incidents in Zamboanga del Sur province this month. Officials assert that the former rebels are disgruntled over not being integrated into the army or the police forces. So far, some 1000 MNLF members have graduated from the required six month army training course. Most are deployed in the southern, Muslim-dominated areas (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/15/98).
Jun 18, 1998The MILF demands that the army withdraw from its camp in Tungawan, which recently fell to government forces. The rebel organization says that the action violates a ceasefire reached last year. Some 35 people have died in these battles (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/18/98, 06/20/98).
Jun 30, 1998Around 100 MNLF members are reported to be responsible for a barrage of mortar shelling in Jolo that coincided with the inauguration ceremony of the region’s governor. One death was reported. The MNLF members are alleged to be supporters of a candidate who lost in recent federal elections (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/30/98).
Jul 2, 1998Abu Sayyaf calls for formal peace talks with the new Estrada administration and an amnesty for its incarcerated members. Former President Ramos refused to negotiate with the rebel group, asserting that they are terrorists. Abu Sayyaf is reported to have around 700 members (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 07/02/98). Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan (the target of a recent attack by some MNLF members) blames SPCPD Chairman Nur Misuari for the breakdown of peace and order in Sulu’s capital city, Jolo. He asserts that the province remains poor and suffers from a lack of development (Ibid.).
Jul 9, 1998Around 300 MILF members attack three villages and clash with government forces near the North Cotabato town of Pigcawayan. The MILF says 6 soldiers and 1 civilian died (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 07/09/98, 07/10/98).
Jul 10, 1998A Lebanese businessman, who was kidnapped and released once a ransom was paid, contends that Misuari’s failure to improve the livelihood of people in the south is responsible for the wave of kidnappings in recent years. He particularly cites the failure to deliver rice subsidies and livelihood assistance to former MNLF rebels (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 07/10/98). The MILF says it has had no official communications with the government of President Joseph Estrada since he allegedly assured Libyan Ambassador Al Zaruk on June 24 that he is eager to resume peace talks (Ibid.).
Jul 11, 1998Renewed fighting between the MILF and government forces is reported in North Cotabato (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 07/11/98).
Jul 12, 1998The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has set up three home pages on the internet to drum up support (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 07/12/98).
Jul 17, 1998A top aide to President Joseph Estrada says that peace talks with the MILF are expected to resume within a few weeks (Agence France Presse, 07/17/98).
Jul 20, 1998Three people convicted of robbery and murder by a shariah court run by the MILF are scheduled to be publicly executed this month in Maguindanao province. Last October, the MILF executed two people based upon a ruling by its shariah court. That incident led to a public outcry and a call for investigations into the incident (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 07/20/98).
Jul 24, 1998Officials state that two Abu Sayyaf members were arrested when their base was raided and another member was killed in an encounter in Basilan province (Agence France Presse, 07/24/98).
Aug 8, 1998Japan expresses concern about the security of its nationals working in the south where a rash of kidnappings have occurred. Japan is funding development projects in the region to help support the 1996 peace agreement (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 08/08/98).
Aug 13, 1998Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado condemns ARMM Governor Nur Misuari for his repeated warnings that the MNLF will return to the use of armed force if a plebiscite scheduled for this year is not postponed until 2003. Currently, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao consists of four provinces. The plebiscite is to determine if the residents of the special zone of Peace and Development (ZOPAD), which covers 14 provinces and 9 cities in the south, want to join the ARMM. Misuari contends that due to a lack of development funds he has not had enough time to convince the population to support an expanded autonomous region. The Netherlands recently provided $1 million for a project that will examine the results of development in the south (BusinessWorld, 08/13/98).
Aug 14, 1998Ambassador Manuel T. Yan, the presidential advisor who helped negotiate the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF, says that postponing the plebiscite would be illegal. He says that the agreement would need to be renegotiated and new laws passed (BusinessWorld, 08/14/98).
Aug 20, 1998In the past week, Abu Sayyaf is reported to have kidnapped three people in order to extort money (Agence France Presse, 08/14-20/98).
Aug 25, 1998A preliminary meeting is held between the government’s new negotiating team and representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Abu Sayyaf rebels reportedly kill three civilians (Agence France Presse, 08/25/98).
Sep 21, 1998Three Hong Kong residents and a Taiwanese businesswoman are held captive, likely by disgruntled MNLF members or Abu Sayyaf (Agence France Presse, 09/21/98).
Sep 22, 1998The government says three former MNLF rebels were killed in the continuing search for an Italian priest who was recently kidnapped for ransom (Agence France Presse, 09/22/98).
Oct 18, 1998Authorities believe that former MNLF members attacked a village in North Cotabato. One person was killed (AAP Newsfeed, 10/18/98).
Oct 20, 1998Heavy fighting between security forces and the MILF is reported in Maguindanao province. Around 10 rebels and 2 soldiers are dead (Agence France Presse, 10/20/98).
Oct 25, 1998Abu Sayyaf threatens to blow up two oil depots and a power barge. The group has reportedly carried out 11 bomb and rocket attacks in Basilan province this year (Agence France Presse, 10/25/98).
Nov 16, 1998An Italian priest is released after the mediation efforts of the MILF, ARMM Governor Nur Misuari, and the Libyan Ambassador to the Philippines (Agence France Presse, 11/16/98).
Nov 17, 1998Some 40 MILF members seize two villages and extort money from local residents. Talks between the rebels and the government have stalled over the issue of official recognition of rebel-held areas (Agence France Presse, 11/17/98).
Nov 24, 1998The government says 6 MILF members and 7 soldiers were wounded in fierce clashes which occurred when the rebels attacked army detachments in Maguindanao (Agence France Presse, 11/24/98).
Dec 2, 1998The first international Islamic business conference is held in Zamboanga city. Some 500 executives from the Philippines, Asia, and the Middle East are meeting to promote trade and investment in the south. Foreigners have shied away from the south due to continuing violence. At least 30 people on both sides were killed in heavy fighting last week. The conference is being funded by the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank which has also allocated $16 million in loans and grants for infrastructure in the ARMM and $1 million for training for former rebels (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 12/02/98).
Dec 18, 1998The leader of Abu Sayyaf, Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, is killed in a clash with security forces near Isabela, the capital of Basilan. The Libyan-trained rebel was the most wanted man in the Philippines. Two other Abu Sayyaf members and two policemen also died in the incident. Observers believe that Janjalani’s death could be a severe blow to the organization which is made up of some 200 rebels. Abu Sayyaf is reported to be behind a bombing of a shopping mall in Zamboanga city in the past week. More than 60 people were injured (Agence France Presse, 12/18/98).
Dec 23, 1998The armed forces state that they recorded at least 126 violations by the MILF since a ceasefire was reached last year. It will ask a joint government-MILF panel to investigate these incidents. The MILF also accuses the government of violations (BusinessWorld, 12/23/98).
Jan 1, 1999The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) plan to continue their talks. The MILF says that it will insist on obtaining an independent Islamic state; President Estrada asserts that this will never happen (BBC, 01/01/99).
Jan 2, 1999Ten people die when a bomb explodes in Jolo, the capital of Sulu. Authorities believe that Abu Sayyaf is retaliating for last month’s death of its founder and leader Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani (BusinessWorld, 01/05/99).
Jan 7, 1999The MILF postpones talks with the government until February. They were set to begin on January 19. In the southern town of Lamitan, police report some 20 Abu Sayyaf members set up roadblocks to search for the policemen who were responsible for the death of the organization’s leader (Agence France Presse, 01/07/99).
Jan 8, 1999ARMM Governor Nur Misuari accuses the government of violating the terms of the 1996 peace agreement by not giving weapons to former guerrillas who joined the military. Under the deal, 7500 rebels were to have been absorbed in the military and police forces. MNLF cadres have previously walked out of training camps accusing Christian officers of discrimination. Late last year, three Christian soldiers were killed in a shoot-out with MNLF members (Agence France Presse, 01/08/99).
Jan 9, 1999President Estrada calls for the rebels to sincerely engage in talks to set the agenda for formal peace negotiations. Last week, four people were killed when rebels attacked a timber truck near the town of Buldon. The MILF denies responsibility; police believe the Abu Sayyaf group was involved (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/09/99).
Jan 14, 1999Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado says that rebel violence is increasing in the south. Since the new year, some 15 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded in various attacks in Mindanao. A newly-emerged group, the Maranao Islamic Brotherhood, is reported responsible for the temporary abduction of 22 men accused of drug trafficking (Agence France Presse, 01/14/99).
Jan 17, 1999An unknown number of MILF rebels are killed when the army shells one of its camps. The attack is reported to be in retaliation for an earlier MILF offensive on nine army detachments in Buldon town in Maguindanao province (Agence France Presse, 01/17/99).
Jan 18, 1999Authorities state that the MILF attacked three army detachments in Maguindanao and Basilan provinces. ARMM Governor Nur Misuari warns that thousands of former MNLF rebels will rejoin the armed struggle if the MNLF is not granted a provisional government over a larger area of the south. He also discusses the issue with a representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which helped broker the 1996 agreement (Agence France Presse, 01/18/99).
Jan 19, 1999The MILF declares a "red alert" status as some 1000 soldiers backed by tanks are deployed near its headquarters (Camp Abubakar) (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/19/99).
Jan 19, 1999A senior policy advisor to ARMM Governor Misuari asserts that the government has reneged on implementing the second phase of the peace agreement. Set to begin last year, it focuses on providing alternative livelihoods to former fighters and the appointment of Muslims to important positions in the executive and judiciary. Misuari has consistently criticized the government for allegedly failing to provide sufficient funds to promote development (BusinessWorld, 01/19/99).
Jan 23, 1999Abu Sayyaf rebels are reported responsible for a raid on Bacong village that resulted in three deaths (Agence France Presse, 01/23/99).
Jan 24, 1999Security forces shell areas occupied by the MILF in retaliation for rebel attacks on army detachments (Agence France Presse, 01/24/99).
Jan 25, 1999Seven people are injured in a grenade attack on a police headquarters in Isabela, Basilan. Authorities believe Abu Sayyaf, which has vowed to avenge the death of its leader, is responsible (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/25/99).
Jan 29, 1999The MILF releases some 500 children and 70 teachers it had taken hostage when it took over a school yesterday. Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross states that the MILF is violating the Geneva conventions by recruiting children under the age of 13 to fight (Agence France Presse, 01/28/29/99).
Jan 30, 1999Around 100 MILF rebels attack four army detachments outside Cotabato city. Thirty-two people have been killed in clashes in the past week and some 83,000 displaced. The two sides are set to meet on February 8 (Agence France Presse, 01/30-31/99).
Feb 2, 1999President Estrada says that he will not agree to a face-to-face meeting with MILF chairman Hashim Salamat if the rebels insist on pressing for independence. The government is willing to offer substantial autonomy as long as it is in line with the 1996 agreement with the MNLF (Agence France Presse, 02/01-02/99).
Feb 6, 1999The MILF says that both Libya and Malaysia have offered to host and broker formal talks between the two sides. President Estrada favors holding negotiations within the country (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/06/99).
Feb 8, 1999Talks open between the MILF and the government. MILF chairman Hashim Salamat calls for a referendum in Muslim-dominated areas in Mindanao to determine if residents support the fight for independence. The rebels also accuse security forces of burning mosques during recent fighting near their headquarters(Camp Abubakar) (Agence France Presse, Deutsche Presse Agentur, 02/08/99).
Feb 10, 1999A MILF spokesman denies that until late last year it received financial aid from Saudi millionaire Osama Bin Laden. Bin Laden is suspected in the bombing of two US embassies in Africa(Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/10/99). Talks between the government and the MILF lead to official recognition of two rebel camps and promises that the government will inspect some 41 others. The two sides will meet again on February 17 (Ibid.).
Feb 12, 1999Japan threatens to slash financial aid to the south if Manila does not provide adequate security for its nationals working in the region. Last year, Japan provided $3.8 million and it is expected to spend $21.3 million this year, mostly in Muslim-majority areas. Japanese nationals have been subject to extortion attempts (Agence France Presse, 02/12/99).
Feb 14, 1999Officials state that at least five people are dead following an Abu Sayyaf ambush in Basilan. They also report MILF attacks on an army detachment in Bukidnon province. A face-to-face meeting between President Estrada and MILF chairman Salamat is expected during the President’s visit to Mindanao later this month (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/14/99).
Feb 27, 1999While conflicting demands over security provisions derail an expected meeting between President Estrada and MILF chairman Salamat, both sides indicate that they are still open to negotiations (Agence France Presse, 02/27/99; Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/26/99).
Mar 1, 1999The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) states that formal talks may open in May in either Malaysia or Indonesia. The two sides will meet later this month to work on an agenda for the negotiations. The Malaysian embassy in Manila denies that Kuala Lumpur has offered to serve as a host (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/01/99).
Mar 3, 1999Elections for new executives and members for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao assembly have been postponed until September 13. The government says that violence in the region led it to delay the polls, which were due to be held this month (Agence France Presse, 03/03/99).
Mar 5, 1999Despite protests from the government, the MILF vows to go ahead with the public execution of three Muslim men. The rebels’ sharia court found the men guilty of murdering a Christian plantation owner last year. Since 1997, the MILF has executed at least eight people for alleged crimes (Agence France Presse, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/05/99). The military reports that the MILF has formed an alliance with the communist New Peoples’ Army which has also been engaged in a rebellion against the government. The military says that the two have agreed to conduct joint attacks and training exchanges and to share weapons (Asiaweek, 05/05/99).
Mar 16, 1999ARMM Governor Nur Misuari meets with MILF chairman Hashim Salamat at Camp Abubakar. Arranged by the Libyan Ambassador to the Philippines, this is reported to be the first meeting between the two men in over twenty years. Salamat left the MNLF in 1978 over differences on how to wage the struggle. He then formed the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Both Misuari and Salamat deny that they are joining forces. Meanwhile, the army says that an MILF attack resulted in the deaths of three Christian farmers in Sultan Kudarat province (Agence France Presse, 03/16/99).
Mar 17, 1999ARMM Governor Nur Misuari threatens to revive the MNLF’s secession struggle if the government fails to grant autonomy to a larger portion of the south. Under the 1996 peace agreement, a plebiscite must be held within three years in the special zone of Peace and Development (ZOPAD), which covers 14 provinces and 9 cities in the south, to determine if the residents want to join the ARMM. Misuari asserts that a plebiscite is not part of the agreement and that he will take the issue to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which brokered the peace talks. Some former MNLF rebels have turned to extortion and/or joined the MILF or Abu Sayyaf as they have become disgruntled with or unable to survive on the limited livelihood assistance that has been provided (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/17/99).
Mar 18, 1999Officials state that Abu Sayyaf killed two Christian militiamen in Basilan province. The organization is also blamed for three bomb blasts in the region. A renewed military offensive against the group began earlier this year (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/18/99).
Apr 14, 1999Around 30 MILF members attack soldiers in a village in Bukidnon province. The rebels assert that the clash was triggered by a land dispute between Christians and Muslims. Since last month, government and MILF negotiators have been working to set the agenda for formal peace talks which are expected to begin in May (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/14/99).
May 7, 1999Authorities indicate that 38 members of Abu Sayyaf have surrendered (Agence France Presse, 05/07/99).
May 11, 1999Discussions over the venue for formal peace talks continue. The government wants the negotiations to be held within the Philippines while the MILF says that the first meeting should be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Four people are killed in an MILF ambush in Buldon town (Agence France Presse, 05/11/99).
May 24, 1999The military contends that Pakistani mercenaries located in the Philippines are training MILF cadres in assault warfare and the building of homemade bombs. It also says that various nationals of Arab states are providing the rebels with information on how to make guns (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/24/99).
May 26, 1999Two policemen and two civilians are reported dead following MILF attacks (Agence France Presse, 05/26/99).
May 28, 1999Reports indicate that residents in the south are becoming increasingly disgruntled with ARMM Governor and SPCPD chair Nur Misuari. Questions have arisen over Misuari’s lavish lifestyle, limited development in the region, and his choosing to spend most of his time in Manila trying to court investors. In mid-February, the Philippines Senate took an unprecedented step when it formed a seven member oversight committee for Mindanao. The body is expected to monitor developments in the region (Asiaweek, 03/05/99, 05/28/99).
Jun 1, 1999It is reported that Abu Sayyaf killed two Christian businessmen in Isabela, Basilan province(Agence France Presse, 06/01/99).
Jun 10, 1999The MILF reportedly shells four army detachments in Buldon town (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/10/99).
Jun 13, 1999Two Belgians are kidnapped in the south. Authorities suspect the involvement of the MILF or Abu Sayyaf (Agence France Presse, 06/13/99).
Jun 22, 1999A second Belgian, who was kidnapped earlier this month, is freed unharmed. The first one was released on June 18 (Agence France Presse, 06/22/99).
Jun 29, 1999The government says that formal peace negotiations with the MILF are expected to open in August. The two sides have been holding preliminary talks since 1996. Members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) will act as observers. President Estrada has set a December deadline for reaching a deal (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/29/99).

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