Brief chronology of the conflict in the Southern Philippines

Updated by Masako Ishii, as of Nov., 2015

1968, Mar.:

  • Jabidah incident. Muslim youth who had undergone military training were killed

1970 (CIRC):

  • Formation of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF); begins movement for separation and independence

1976, Dec.:

  • Signing of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement between the Marcos administration and MNLF. In the process of reaching the agreement, MNLF changes the struggle’s demand from independence to right to self-determination


  • President Marcos and the Batasang Pambansa (legislature) come out with a series of laws to establish the Autonomous Region. As a result, Regions IX and XII become Autonomous Regions in 1979. This solution was rejected by the MNLF

1977, May:

  • The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) gives observer status to the MNLF


  • The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) formally breaks away from MNLF  (Practically, it broke away from MNLF in 1977)

1986, May:

  • President Corazon Aquino meets with MNLF’s Chairman Nur Misuari at Jolo Island (Sulu)

1987, Jan.:

  • The Aquino administration and the MNLF sign the Jeddah Accord, where the Philippine government and MNLF agreed to continue talks on the proposal to grant Mindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan full autonomy subject to democratic processes

1990, Feb.:

  • The Aquino administration establishes the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Both MNLF and MILF do not recognize


  • The formation of the Abu Sayyaf Group

1996, Sept.:

  • The Ramos administration and the MNLF sign the 1996 Final Peace Agreement. MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari becomes Governor of ARMM


  • Armed conflicts between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and MILF occur; repetition of armed clashes and peace negotiations continues

2000, March:

  • President Estrada declare “all out war” and the AFP attack the MILF’s largest base. One million became internally displaced

2001, April:

  • MNLF core officials establish a new group of leaders, the Executive Council of 15 (EC15). EC15 paid respect to Misuari by calling him “Chairman Emeritus” but Misuari refuses to accept the title. EC15 selects Hatimil Hassan as chairman. Misuari faction does not recognize

2001, June:

  • The Arroyo administration and the MILF sign the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace

2001, Aug.:

  • The MNLF’s request to postpone the ARMM plebiscite to 2003 is rejected. The plebiscite takes place and ARMM (5 provinces and 1 city) is established

2001, Nov.:

  • Armed attack on government military facilities in Jolo and Zamboanga City byMNLF’s Misuari faction (around 600 men) leads to heavy casualties

2001, Nov.:

  • Misuari arrested in Malaysia on the suspicion of instigating the above attacks, and transferred to the Philippines the following January, where he is detained

2003, Feb.:

  • AFP attacks MILF’s largest base on the pretext that it is attacking the U.S.-designated terrorist group, “Pentagon.” 400 thousand people internally displaced

2003, July:

  • Hashim Salamat, founder of MILF, dies. Ebrahim Murad is elected chairman the following month

2008, April:

  • MNLF’s EC15 faction selects Muslimin Sema as chairman. Misuari faction does not recognize

2008, April:

  • Misuari is released on bail; later charges are dropped

2008, Aug.:

  • The Supreme Court issues a temporary restraining order on the Memorandum of Agreement of Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) that was to be signed between the Arroyo administration and MILF, and later deems it unconstitutional. Armed clashes spread and 600-750 thousand people internally displaced

2009, Nov.:

  • The “Maguindanao massacre” breaks out over the May 2010 national and local elections. 57 are murdered

2010, Aug.:

  • Talks between President Benigno Aquino III and MILF’s Chairman Murad take place in the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan

2012, Oct.:

  • The Philippine government and the MILF sign the “Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro” toward the Comprehensive Agreement

2012, Dec.:

  • Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is established and tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law

2013, Feb.:

  • The Aquino III administration and the MILF sign the annex on Transitional Modalities and Arrangements

2013, Feb.:

  • “Royal Sulu Army” clashes with the Malaysian security force in Lahat Datu, Sabah, Malaysia

2013, Jul.:

  • The Aquino III administration and the MILF sign the annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing

2013, Sep.:

  • MNLF Misuari faction clashes with the AFP in Zamboanga city. The fighting spreads to Basilan Island. More than 200 casualities and more than 110,000 people internally displaced

2013, Dec.:

  • The Aquino III administration and the MILF sign the annex on Power Sharing

2013, Jan.:

  • The Aquino III administration and the MILF sign the annex on Normalization

2014, Mar.:

  • The Aquino III administration and the MILF sign the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB)

2014, Apr.:

  • BTC drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)

2014, Sep.:

  • Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and BTC submitted the draft Bangasmoro Basic Law to the Congress

2015, Jan.:

  • Mamasapano incident happens and results in the deaths of more than 60 people, including 44 police Special Action Forces (SAF) men

2015, Apr.:

  • The leader of the BIFF, Ameril Umbra Kato, dies

2015, May:

  • House ad hoc committee on the BBL approves the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR, HB5811), the substitute bill to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (HB4994) to be submitted to the House plenary

2015, Aug.:

  • Senate Committee on Local Government approves the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR, SB2894), the substitute bill to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (SB2408), to be submitted to the Senate plenary

2015, Sept.:

  • MILF appeals to Congress to pass BBL’s original draft

2015, Oct.:

  • Interpellations on the BLBAR continues in the plenary

Masako Ishii



The core territory of the Bangsamoro shall be composed of: (a) the present geographical area of the ARMM; (b) the Municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte and all other barangays in the Municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite; (c) the cities of Cotabato and Isabela; and (d) all other contiguous areas where there is a resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least ten percent (10%) of the qualified voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro as mentioned in the next paragraph.
Source:International Crisis Group (2012b), “The Philippines: Breakthrough in Mindanao,” Asia Report No. 240. 5 December. International Crisis Group.

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2 Comments on "Brief chronology of the conflict in the Southern Philippines"

  1. ebrahim c. taki | 2014-04-21 at 4:01 am |

    The Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination started way back to the Spanish invasion (1565) of the now called PHL. The first Bangsamoro to raise his hands in defiance of Spanish intrusion was Lapu lapu (the Bangsamoro called him “Kulafu”) The struggle of the Bangsamoro continued under the MIM, MNLF, etc. up to this writing. The BIFF is continuing it and, in some respect, the Abu Sayyaf though the mainstream rebel group (MILF) entered into a peace deal with the Aquino government. It is said that the recently concluded peace deal has the support of the Bangsamoro.

  2. Thank you for your comment

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