Country Reports on Terrorism 2017 - Terrorist Safe Havens: The Southern Philippines

From May to November 2017, terrorist organizations pledging support to ISIS – including a faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Maute Group, and others – seized and occupied Marawi City. When the siege began, President Duterte declared martial law over the entire Mindanao region – approximately one-third of the country's territory – and Congress granted an extension of martial law until the end of 2018. Security forces ultimately cleared the city and eliminated much of the terrorist leadership, but suffered many casualties during the siege.

While the Philippine government possesses the political will to apply security measures against terrorist threats, and has consistently partnered with the United States and other nations to build the capacity to do so, it struggles to apply a coordinated whole-of-government approach to prevent terrorism. Terrorist organizations' continued ability to operate in the southern Philippines is a reflection of the centuries-long challenge of governing effectively in areas outside of Manila, and establishing consistent security in a region possessing a strong separatist identity, endemic poverty, and religious differences.


This 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.