MANILA, Philippines – Peacebuilding organization International Alert Philippines on Wednesday, November 29, warned about two looming problems related to identity that may erupt in Marawi City in the next few months.
"One, there will be those who will seek revenge. They lost their property, they lost their loved ones, and they want revenge – that's one potential source, and it's classic rido, clan feuding, that may happen," International Alert Philippines country manager Francisco Lara Jr said during the launch of the Conflict Alert 2017.
The second possible problem, according to Lara, is related to land.
"So there are two major potential spikes in violence that are rido in nature or clan feuding, and they will be tied up to land because of the very unstable nature of property rights in the area, and then secondly, revenge killings," he reiterated.
International Alert Philippines deputy country manager Nikki de la Rosa said there is a need to consider identity-based conflicts and land-based conflicts that happened before Marawi, and how those will "interplay" into existing conflicts that will be unleashed post-Marawi.
"The issue of revenge killings and clan feuding has been there previous to Marawi, so the manner by which the reconstruction process and the rebuilding process will be undertaken should also consider identity-based conflicts and the looming land issues. Otherwise, that will unleash other sources and episodes of violence in the time that people will go back to Marawi," she explained.
De la Rosa said that, based on their database, incidents of violence – specifically identity-based conflicts, political issues, and land-based conflicts – have the "highest propensity" to produce more episodes of violence.
"So this has to be addressed not just in a linear manner by cutting one string of violence, but also other corollary violence that will erupt out of those original incidents of violence. There are multiple causes of violence in the area, and there's also multiplicity of actor identities, so that has to be considered," she noted.
According to International Alert Philippines' latest Conflict Alert, identity issues, particularly gender-related violence and clan feuds, are the 3rd biggest cause of conflict in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The biggest causes of violent conflict are shadow economy issues. Shadow economies pertain to the informal or underground sectors of the economy that tend to fuel violent conflict.
On Wednesday, Lara said "there is no doubt already" of the "very strong connection" between the illicit drug industry and violent extremism in the case of Marawi.
"We've also seen particularly that [the drug trade in Lanao del Sur] enabled access to huge amounts of resources by the Maute Group. There are signs for example that the scale of their operations would not have occurred had those resources not been available," he explained.
Conflict Alert team leader Judy Gulane said they found out from their data that Maute members were also tied to cases of kidnapping, carnapping, and extortion of businesses – all shadow economies.
The presence of shadow economies, Lara emphasized, is an important factor to look into in other places that may be potential areas for the rise of extremism "because those will provide the resources that extremist groups can tap into in terms of waging their war."
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.