The Moro Struggle and the Challenge to Peace Building in Mindanao, Southern Philippines

  • Cristina J. Montiel
  • Rudy B. Rodil
  • Judith M. de Guzman
Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)

Philippines Chapter Summary

Montiel, Rodil, and Guzman describe the islands of Mindanao in the Southern Philippines and analyze the ethnic conflicts between two of the three primary groups which make up most of the population; the indigenous Muslim minority (Moro) and the Christian migrant majority. Peace movements at the individual, group, and government level are discussed along with suggestions for interventions at each level. Historical review reveals the presence of self-sustaining tribal communities with animistic beliefs, followed by the arrival of Muslim missionaries introducing monotheism. Spanish colonization is credited with the addition of Christian religion and the beginnings of deeply rooted animosity created through many years of war. Additional tensions are postulated to result from inclusion of Moro sultanates in the American takeover, which were not previously part of the Philippine state under Spain. American colonial rule is also credited with contributing to the internal conflicts through labeling of groups, changing land ownership laws, and homestead movements which displaced indigenous people. Further under American governance, the authors describe a process of marginalization through mandatory English education and increasing Filipino presence in bureaucracy. These events are presented as setting the stage for the violent conflict between the Moro and Filipino which followed.

The authors delineate several ongoing steps toward peace such as dialogues, peace seminars, training, peace education, and community peace zones. The need for elimination of poverty, injustice, underdevelopment, and corruption in conjunction with promotion of cultural sensitivity is also recognized. The authors call for peacebuilding to include psychological healing and creation of a sense of active nonviolence. The importance of a national movement with peace policies in government, economic awareness, and linkage between levels of peace movements is also noted. Montiel, Rodil, and Guzman emphasize the need to deal with land ownership issues and create some form of self-determination for the Moro people. The authors express the view that creation of a federally structured government may resolve many of these issues.

Cheryl Jorgensen


Peace Process Peace Education Peace Building Peace Movement Philippine Government 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to acknowledge the partial support provided to Cristina J. Montiel, from an AusAID-ALA visiting research fellowship grant to the Centre for Dialogue at La Trobe University.


  1. Coronel-Ferrer, M. (1994). Peace-building and mediation in the Philippines. Quezon City: Center for Integrative and Development Studies.Google Scholar
  2. Dery, L. C. (1997). The Kris in Philippine History: A study of the Impact of Moro Anti-colonial Resistance 1571–1896. Quezon City, Philippines: L. C. Dery. Google Scholar
  3. Evangelista, A. R. (2003). Peace-building in Mindanao: A partnership between government and civil society. In A. Rasul (Ed.), The road to peace and recon­ciliation: Muslim perspective on the Mindanao conflict (pp. 49–65). Makati City: Asian Institute of Management Policy Center.Google Scholar
  4. Gowing, P. G. (1977). Mandate in Moroland: The American government of Muslim Filipinos, 1899–1920. Quezon City: Philippine Center for Advanced Studies, UP System.Google Scholar
  5. Gowing, P. G. (1979). Muslim Filipinos: Heritage and horizon. Quezon City: New Day Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Inzon, C. M. (2007). A discursive construction of social representations of the history of conflict in Mindanao. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Ateneo de Manila University.Google Scholar
  7. Kamlian, J. A. (1999). Bangsamoro society and culture: A book of readings on peace and development in Southern Philippines. Iligan City: Iligan Center for Peace Education and Research, Office of the ­Vice-Chancellor for Research and Extension, MSU-I ligan Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  8. LaRousse, W. (2001). Walking together seeking peace: The local church of Mindanao Sulu journeying in dialogue with the Muslim community (1965–2000). Quezon City, Philippines: Claretian Publications.Google Scholar
  9. Majul, C. A. (1973). Muslims in the Philippines. Quezon City: Published for the Asian Center by the University of the Philippines.Google Scholar
  10. Mindanao Peaceweavers (n. d.). About MPW. Accessed September 8, 2010 from
  11. Montiel, C. J., & Christie, D. J. (2008). Conceptual frame for a psychology of nonviolent democratic transitions: Positioning across analytical layers. In F. M. Moghaddam, R. Harre, & N. Lee (Eds.), Global conflict resolution through positioning analysis (pp. 261–280). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Montiel, C. J., & Macapagal, M. E. J. (2006). Effects of social position on societal attributions of an asymmetric conflict. Journal of Peace Research, 43(2), 219–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. National Statistics Office (2000). Household Population by Ethnicity, Region, Province, Municipality and Barangay: Mindanao, and Household Population by Religious Affiliation and Region: Mindanao.Google Scholar
  14. Nuñez, R. T. (1997). Roots of conflict: Muslims, Christians and the Mindanao struggle. Makati City, Philippines: Asian Institute of Management.Google Scholar
  15. Rodil, B. R. (1994). The minoritization of the indigenous communities of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. Davao City, Philippines: Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao.Google Scholar
  16. Rodil, R. B. (2000). KalinawMindanaw: The story of the GRP-MNLF Peace Process 1975–1996. Davao City: Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao.Google Scholar
  17. Rodil, B. R. (2003). A story of Mindanao and Sulu in question and answer. Davao City: MINCODE.Google Scholar
  18. Rodil, R. B. (2010a, April 4). Lakas ng loob makipag-isa. Mindanews.Google Scholar
  19. Rodil, R. B. (2010b, March 19). Decolonize the Philippines, Adopt a New Constitution. Mindanews. Google Scholar
  20. Rodil, R. B. (2010c, February). Magpuyong malinawon sa yutang kabilin (Living in peace in their ancestral domain). Presentation given at the University of the Philippines Academic Congress, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines.Google Scholar
  21. Saleeby, N. M. (1963). History of Sulu. Manila: Filipiniana Book Guild.Google Scholar
  22. Schreurs, P. (1989). Caraga Antigua, 1521–1910: The Hispanization and Christianization of Agusan, Surigao and East Davao. Cebu City: San Carlos University.Google Scholar
  23. Tan, S. K. (2002). The Filipino-American War, 1899–1913. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristina J. Montiel
    • 1
  • Rudy B. Rodil
    • 2
  • Judith M. de Guzman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyAteneo de Manila UniversityManilaPhilippines
  2. 2.GRP-MILF Peace PanelManilaPhilippines

Personalised recommendations