Philippines, The

Philippines, The

Case Studies

Civil Society Capacity Building for Security Forces in the Philippines


After a long history of colonialism in the Philippines imposed by Spain and then the United States, the policies of the Filipino government about martial law and authoritarianism became vehicles for the proliferation of violations of human rights by security forces. Given that the military had become part of the security problem, the Filipino civil society group Balay Mindanaw realised the need for and supported the incorporation of military forces into the peacebuilding efforts. They took it upon themselves to build the capacity of military officials, staff, and civilian reserve forces in terms of peacebuilding values, skills and processes. Given that soldiers are trained for fighting, they needed to additionally strengthen their communication skills in order to deescalate and ease conflicts. In order to do this, Filipino civil society provided training and advice on conflict assessment, facilitation, mediation, negotiation, building a culture of peace and other conflict transformation strategies making the security forces more effective in their peacebuilding participation.

Entry points

Though at the beginning it seemed like an odd pairing, the following entry points allowed Balay Mindanaw to engage with the military forces:

  • Training - Although the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) was initially created for civil society, through a partnership between Balay Mindanaw and then Colonel Ramyundo B. Ferrer, military personnel began to apply to its courses. The Institute established strict rules for them in order to integrate them with the rest of the student population which comprised of civil society. Military personnel were not allowed to have guns, wear uniforms, have bodyguards or provide their ranks. These interactions were significantly valuable for both groups given that they normally would not have the chance to work together and it facilitated the formation of relationships, as well as the breakdown of stereotypes.
  • Support – Various Filipino civil society groups, along with Balay Mindanaw, the MPI faculty and Catholic Relief Services followed up with the trained military officials ensuring they would have both formal and informal support mechanisms, ranging from phone calls and texts to visits to military camps and hosting regular meetings. Military personnel were also invited to participate in province-based networks of peacebuilders, where local leaders, military commanders and the rest of the community worked together to bring peace to the area by creating local zones of peace, facilitating and encouraging local dialogue between conflicting parties, and creating community development projects for the benefit of the population.
  • Policy Advocacy - Balay Mindanaw’s peacebuilding efforts also turned into policy advocacy. For example, they promoted the institutionalisation of peacebuilding and conflict management skills courses in all of the formal academic institutions of the Department of National Defence and the Armed Forces. Moreover, they advocated for a different way to encourage the promotion of soldiers, one in which they would be honoured for their peace leadership and not simply based on the amount of enemies defeated or weapons captured.


Through the successful collaboration between the two groups, leaders in civil society networks began to perceive the military as a supporting partner in the peace process instead of another part of the warring parties. Additionally, soldiers under Brigadier General Ferrer’s command began building closer relationships with the citizens they protected and worked by their side in building houses and water supply systems. This resulted in citizens actively going to them with their security concerns instead of fearing them. Especially since security forces began mediating small and large conflicts in the communities, including land disputes.

Lessons Identified

Working together proved successful in many ways and most importantly in breaking down the barriers between each other. A strategy that proved useful for easing the relationship between military personnel and civil society, was the ability to listen closely to each participant without interrupting and demonstrating respect through all interactions. Also, giving security forces the perspective of the civil society allowed them to approach their work in a different manner that often times proved more constructive. Brigadier General Ferrer, for example, encouraged his troops to smile and greet people with respect when they would be in a town, instead of being fierce and acting tough. This in turn made soldiers more approachable and added a human dimension to them. By collaborating with each other, the two groups were able to identify and work through local tensions together before those turned into violent conflict, as well as increase the military forces’ accountability through the relationships built with the different actors of society.

Selected Resources

The Philippines: Civil Society-Military-Police Capacity Building

Building Capacity on Conflict Management and Peace Building for the Military

case study

The Philippines: The “Bantay Bayanihan” Forum

Building on a decade of capacity building training programmes and joint programming for the military and civil society in the Philippines, a new initiative creates a permanent forum for civil society-military-police coordination and civil society oversight of the security sector. Launched in 2011, the Bantay Bayanihan forum institutionalized the goodwill that began with the 2010 formulation of the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) that included strong participation from civil society groups.

Bantay Bayanihan, known as the “BB,” engages the security sector in critical and constructive collaboration towards peace and security sector reform. The network serves as an independent oversight body in the implementation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Internal Peace and Security Plan. It provides dialogue spaces for various stakeholders to come together and work towards addressing peace and security issues at the local and national levels.

The BB is a “Whole of Nation Approach” involving many diverse stakeholders. But the BB is also localized, enabling the general public at the local level to communicate directly with local security forces and local government. The map here highlights the locations of BB platforms across the Philippines. The network has grown to 15 clusters with a nationwide reach. It includes 150 civil society organizations – including human rights, religious, environmental, academic, and labour groups - together with civilian government units, leaders from the Department of National Defence, Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Security Council, and the Cabinet Cluster on Justice, Peace, and Security also participate in BB events and meetings. The BB’s National Secretariat is the Security Reform Initiative (SRI).

According to the BB’s website,[1] “The universal message of Bantay Bayanihan is about working together towards winning the peace. By sharing the gains and duties of laying the groundwork for conflict resolution and community development, it creates a space for conflict survivors to be empowered in creating their future. At the same time, it brings government closer to its constituents, offering a human perspective of security issues rather than its traditional institutional stance.” BB aims for dialogue partners to jointly implement the IPSP to ensure and advance human rights, international humanitarian law, rule of law, accountability, civilian engagement and democratization of the armed forces. Specifically, BB includes the following tasks:

• Serving as a venue or direct channel to raise issues regarding the IPSP-Bayanihan, including peace and security concerns of local communities

• Conducting and validating periodic evaluations of IPSP-Bayanihan

• Providing recommendations to the Chief of Staff (national level) and Commanding General (unified command/ division/ brigade level) on IPSP-Bayanihan

• Generating concise policy recommendations on security reforms together with peace and conflict dynamics, to be submitted and presented to respective peace and order councils (local executive) and sanggunian (local legislative), all the way to national-level Cabinet security cluster (executive) and Congress (legislative)

• Promoting Bantay Bayanihan to other potential partner stakeholders

• Institutionalizing the active partnership of government and civil society

In addition to smaller meetings where civil society representatives meet with security sector leaders, the BB also holds public forums to broaden discussion about Peace and Order Councils, Normalization, and CAFGUs (Citizen Auxiliary Force Geographical Units). Bantay Bayanihan also produces policy reform papers to reflect the views of both civil society and relevant government agencies.

The BB emerges from decades of tense relationships between communities and security forces. At first, civil society suggested that they call the BB a “multisectoral advisory committee.” Then the name shifted to the “Bayanihan Partners Forum” but some parts of civil society objecting, noting it was too early to call each other “partners.” Some military officers were unsure about allowing civil society representatives to hear intelligence reports, such as the details of operations, from casualties to how many shells were fired. A civil society member shared that with the IPSP approach guiding the military’s activities, there was a significant change in dealing with such cases: “Military now plays a vital role as protector of the civilians. This lessened human rights violations because the military has learned that they have to connect with the community. Before, they were hard to get or they were very sensitive and defensive especially when we brought cases of rape [against soldiers] to the [meeting] sessions.” Trust continues to grow, as security forces recognize the value of hearing civil society’s different perspectives and analysis on security threats.

In the region of Lanao del Norte, the BB’s work building civil society collaboration outreach from a small, interfaith NGO known as Pakigdait with the Filipino military. Pakigdait conducts interfaith dialogue between Muslim and Christian leaders and aims to help communities address conflict and bring needed changes without violence. Like most of his community, Musa Sanguila of Pakigdait had experienced abuse from military personnel. Growing up as an ethnic Moro, he had been rounded up by the military police and from that experience of repression and humiliation he became a Moro activist. In August 2008 the army blocked all food supplies to the local municipality. Pakigait requested for passage to bring in relief goods. The army refused for fear that they are also providing for the insurgents. But now, because of the BB dialogue, trust between civil society and the military is increasing because of the BB engagement.

His colleague Abel Jose Moya was captured and tortured in the 1980s for his role in the New People’s Army. Sanguila and Moya had a change of heart. With a desire to promote a “culture of peace,” Sanguila and his colleagues began regularly visiting military camps to teach soldiers how to speak the local Maranao language and to relate better to local communities. The AFP twice awarded Pakigdait as an “outstanding NGO” for its bridge building work between civil society and the military.[2] Now Musa Sanguila sits on the BB oversight committee. Sanguila observed that “Everyone is wounded” in both civil society and in security forces. Speaking as a representative of civil society, Sanguila states “It is important we talk to each other. We always tell them that we are here not to criticise but to be constructive on how we can push for peace and development together. We are here to help.”

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.


[1] See Accessed 30 October 2015.
[2] See Ariffin-Cabo. June 2008.

case study


Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System

International Alert,with support from the World Bank, has launched a platform for monitoring and analyzing conflicts in the Bangsamoro, the area encompassed by Muslim Mindanao. It consists of a database to help inform development policies and programs in conflict-affected areas:

"Comprehensive data about conflicts in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is now available to anyone with a computer or a mobile device with the launch of the Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System (BCMS) website.

The number and kinds of conflicts, where these took place, their causes and costs, and the implications these have on policy can now be accessed at

Making timely and credible data on conflicts readily available to policymakers, development workers, researchers, academics, media and the general public is expected to inform interventions and development programs and policies for Muslim Mindanao, while nurturing vigilance against the occurrence or recurrence of violent disputes.
BCMS users can explore the available data, generate the information they need, produce reports and download these together with visuals."

Read more here



The security sector in Southeast Asia - Dr Carolina Hernandez

Dr Carolina Hernanedez of the Institute for Security and Defence Studies in the Philippines talks about how she sees the security sector of Southeast Asia and its development.

The audio version of this video is available here


Policy and Research Papers

Japon-Philippines: une nouvelle alliance stratégique en mer de Chine ?

Un avion patrouilleur de l'armée de l'air japonaise a survolé, mardi 23 juin, selon Reuters, jusqu'aux limites de Reed Bank, un plateau marin riche en ressources énergétiques, dont la Chine et les Philippines se disputent la possession, dans un secteur contesté de mer de Chine méridionale, foyer de tension entre la Chine et ses voisins d'Asie du Sud-Est.
Ce survol d'un avion de surveillance P3-C Orion s'inscrit dans le cadre d'exercices militaires conjoints menés par les Philippines et le Japon au grand dam du pouvoir chinois, qui avait condamné une "ingérence" du Japon dans le secteur. On le sait, la Chine revendique l'essentiel (environ 90 %) de la Mer de Chine méridionale et elle ne s'en cache pas. Elle effectue actuellement des travaux de remblais sur différents atolls des îles Spratleys afin d'y implanter des bases navales et aériennes.
Comment interpréter ces évolutions et que nous disent-elles de la relation Japon-Philippines d'une part et de la posture de défense japonaise d'autre part ?

Publié par l'Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques (IRIS), cet article s'intéresse à la coopération croissante en matière de sécurité entre Manille et Tokyo. 


A Transparent and Accountable Judiciary to Deliver Justice for All


Corruption is hampering the delivery of justice globally. People perceive the judiciary as the second most corrupt public service, after the police. UNDP presents in this report, prepared in cooperation with U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, a series of successful experiences from Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya, Kosovo*, Nepal, Nigeria, Paraguay, Philippines, and Somalia, in promoting transparency and accountability within the judiciary.

Opening up judicial systems fosters integrity and increases public trust without impeding independence of the judiciary. The report advocates for judiciaries to open up to peer learning by engaging representatives of other countries in capacity assessments to improve judicial integrity. It also encourages judiciaries to consult end-users, associations of judges and use new technologies to foster transparency and accountability.

For full access to the report on A Transparent and Accountable Judiciary to Deliver Justice for All, kindly follow the link.


Developing a Security Sector Reform Index in the Philippines

This is a pre-publication draft of an ongoing project. 

Begun in 2005-2006, the SSRI Project by ISDS seeks to develop an assessment tool regarding the performance of the Philippine security  sector which can serve as (1) a diagnostic instrument to determine what needs to be done to improve security sector governance (SSG) in the country; (2) a guide to the formulation of a reform program to achieve good/democratic security sector governance; and (3) a monitoring mechanism on the progress (or lack of it) of SSR for good/democratic SSG.



Soldiers for Peace: A Collection of Peacebuilding Stories in Mindanao

This book contains some encouraging stories from our engagement with the security sector. These tales we have gathered from the field, of real events encountered by soldiers, and stories from the people and peace advocates with whom the military have dealt with.

A preview is available for download. 


The Protection and Promotion of Human Security in East Asia

This book is part of the Palgrave Macmillan Critical Studies of the Asia Pacific series.

Although many of the states of East Asia have achieved startling success, not all have benefited from the region's development. Many of the most vulnerable sections of East Asian populations still face tremendous challenges in their daily lives, have yet to enjoy the rewards of the Asian Century, and may even be further imperiled as a result of the forces of development. Brendan Howe examines the measurements of success in East Asian development and governance from a human-centered perspective. He assesses obstacles to the protection and promotion of human security and development through detailed case studies of the most challenged states in the region, including Burma, Timor-Leste, Japan and North and South Korea. He looks at the roles that East Asian actors can play, and have been playing, in protecting and promoting human security at the theoretical and practical level.

Chapter 1: Human Security: Challenges and Opportunities in East Asia

Chapter 2: Human Security and Good Governance

Chapter 3: East Asian Perspectives on Human Security and Governance

Chapter 4: Human Security and National Insecurity in North Korea

Chapter 5: Conflict Drivers in Muslim Mindanao

Chapter 6: Human Insecurity and Underdevelopment in Laos

Chapter 7: Transforming Conflictual Relationships in Myanmar/Burma

Chapter 8: Rebuilding Human Security in Timor-Leste

Chapter 9: Human Security and Japanese Strategic Aid

Chapter 10: South Korea’s Contribution to the Promotion of Human Security

Chapter 11: Future Contributions to East Asian Human Security


The Role of Parliament in Police Governance

As the primary agency for law enforcement, the police operates at close proximity to the public and exerts significant influence over the security of individuals and communities through its behaviours and performance. Therefore, ensuring accountability of both the individuals and institutions of the police is a fundamental condition for good governance of the security sector in democratic societies. The parliament, as the highest representative body in a democratic system, plays a significant role in maintaining police accountability.
The objective of the edited volume on “The Role of Parliament in Police Governance: Lessons Learned from Asia and Europe” is to put forward good practices and recommendations for improving police accountability, with an emphasis on the strengthening of the role of parliament in police governance. The comparative analysis includes insights and lessons learned from eight country case studies including Belgium, Germany, India, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Philippines, Thailand and the United Kingdom. The findings of the cases studies can be taken into account when analysing and considering options for improving the accountability of the police to parliament as well as strengthening independent oversight bodies and parliament-police liaison mechanisms. However, it must be emphasised that these good practices always need to be adapted to the exigencies of the local context.


Monopoly of Force

"Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) and Security Sector Reform (SSR) have emerged in recent years as promising though generally poorly understood mechanisms for consolidating stability and reasserting state sovereignty after conflict. Despite the considerable experience acquired by the international community, the critical interrelationship between DDR and SSR and the ability to use these mechanisms with consistent success remain less than optimally developed. The chapters in this book reflect a diversity of field experience and research in DDR and SSR, which suggest that these are complex and interrelated systems, with underlying political attributes. Successful application of DDR and SSR requires the setting aside of preconceived assumptions or formulas, and should be viewed flexibly to restore to the state the monopoly of force."--P. [4] of cover.


Other Documents

How Can Fragile and Conflict-Affected States Improve Their Legitimacy With Their People?

Fragility, conflict, and violence affect development outcomes for more than two billion people. This poses a particular challenge to development organizations, governments, and NGOs alike.

On December 5, 2016, the World Bank and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy convened a day-long conference to discuss some of these challenges, share the latest research, and exchange knowledge and experience from the field.

To access the entire conference report How Can Fragile and Conflict-Affected States Improve Their Legitimacy With Their People?, kindly click on the link.

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Toward Creating The Bangsamoro Regional Police: A Review of the Recommendations of the ICP

On 27th  March 2014, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a comprehensive peace agreement with the Government of the Philippines (GPH) after more than four decades of separatist struggle. The autonomous Bangsamoro Government is to be established through an election scheduled in 2016. This online article discusses the contents of Independent Commission on Policing (ICP)'s  policy recommendation report to the Mindanao Peace Panel with particular attention to points regarding what is called “normalization”, a security arrangement for the Bangsamoro community.

For full access to the article, Toward Creating The Bangsamoro Regional Police: A Review of the Recommendations of the ICP, kindly follow the link. 

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The Independent Commission on Policing (ICP): Process and Challenges in Peacebuilding

On the Mindanao Island and Sulu Archipelago of the Philippines where a large number of Muslim populations reside, there has been an armed conflict for over 40 years. Muslim elements have been fighting for their independence from the Philippines. The Government of the Philippines (GPH) endeavored to engage in peace negotiations and in 1996 a peace agreement was made with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Meanwhile, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) refused to join the peace process and continued its armed struggle for independence. Despite this, on 27 March 2014, MILF signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with GPH, which accelerated the mood for peace in Mindanao. 

The ICP submitted a report and recommendations for the Peace Panel on 14 April 2014 after 6-months of activity. This article discusses the principles on which the ICP placed the importance when drafting the recommendations; power dynamics within the ICP which surfaced when forming consensus; and, foreseeable challenges which may emerge upon the implementation of the recommendations.

For full access to the article, The Independent Commission on Policing (ICP): Process and Challenges in Peacebuilding, kindly follow the link. 

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