Migration and Violent Conflict in Mindanao

The contemporary conflict situation embedded in the social fabric of Mindanao in the southern part of the Philippines is rooted in the historical, systematic, and collective marginalisation and minoritisation of the indigenous Filipino Muslims or Moros and native Lumad peoples. This paper argues that the minoritisation of the erstwhile indigenous and majority Moros as well as the non-Christian and non-Muslim Lumads of Mindanao was the result of a series of deliberate programs to voluntarily resettle or repopulate the area with predominantly Christian migrants from Luzon and the Visayas (i.e., the northern and central parts of the country, respectively). This numerical domination of the indigenous Moro (and Lumad) minorities by nonindigenous (and predominantly Christian) settlers was exacerbated by (and may have in fact produced the conditions for) economic deprivation of the indigenous Moro and Lumad peoples.

The paper also argues that the armed and violent conflict in Mindanao has led to large-scale and involuntary out-migration (particularly from the areas of direct and heavy conflict) mainly in the form of human displacements and movements (primarily involving Moros and Lumads who are non-combatants) out of the conflict zones. This paper illustrates the dynamics of how conflict situations interface with human migratory flows. More specifically, it makes the observation that the conflict in Mindanao is rooted in the voluntary inmigration to the area which eventually led to the minoritisation of the indigenous Moro and Lumad peoples. Moreover, as a consequence of the conflict, there has been a large-scale and involuntary movement outward or away from the conflict areas.