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Culture of Conflict in the Philippines

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 1682 words Published: 19th Jun 2018

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The markers of globalisation such as the imperatives of economic liberalisation, fiscal reform, and migratory flows, which is one of tidal waves of global information, have restructured social relations existing all over the world. Even though the globalisation has been called as an integrating force, cultural conflicts have presently become the most rampant and widespread form of international violence as globalisation has accelerated (Crawford, n.d.). Undoubtedly, it is said that members of any kind of culture can hold varying degrees of commitments towards the predominant values of such culture, however being in opposition to such cultural values can set the stage for cultural conflicts. A situation similar to above can clearly be seen by examining the continuing cultural conflict that the government of Philippines have with armed communist as well as Islamic insurgent groups, which has been developed through the international interventions (Peleo, 2007).

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Philippines has a long history of cultural conflict, with armed groups that mainly consist of Muslim separatists, clan militias, and communists, and criminal all of which are active in the country (BBC 2012). The Muslim separatists comprises the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and the Abu Sayyaf. The Abu Sayyaf and The MILF are breakaway groups of the MNLF (BBC 2012). On the other hand, the communist insurgency is propagated by the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) military wing, the NPA (New People’s Army).

Since the beginning of the communist insurgency in 1960s, the government of Philippines has persistently fought with the benefit of its superior equipments, training, as well as communications. However, the government failed to resolve the conflicts mainly owing to its failure of addressing the root causes of the communist insurgency such as the social injustice, imperfect democratic process, inequitable distribution of wealth, and inconsistent delivery of services etc (Peleo, 2007). The Muslim insurgency can similarly be regarded in an ambiguous way. In contrast to the communist insurgency, this movement had not determined to replace the national government through a revolution. Accordingly, the insurgency of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) took a secessionist form with the intention of establishing a Muslim state in the areas of southern Philippine island of Mindanao.

The ongoing struggle between the Philippine government and the communist as well as Muslim guerrillas has the emergence of limited internal conflicts (Brown, 1996) that may be solved yet through negotiations and stricter law enforcements. However, the formal peace talks amongst and the insurgent representatives and the government began in the 1970s and keep on until today have yet to present a final ending to the armed cultural conflict. This conflict spreads through all aspects of Philippine governance Political and security (Peleo, 2007) and both the insurgents and the government have denounced each other since the cause of the slow development of the country. Furthermore, since the 1970s, the insurgents and the government have sought to boost international involvements in a domestic’ political conflict. Nevertheless, it can be note that the international support, recognition, as well as financial and material aid gained by the government as well as by the Muslim and communist insurgencies have not significantly diminished the hostility amongst the insurgents and Philippines government. Rather, the promise of such international aids for domestics’ cultural conflicts appears to both parties as a means of gaining military advantage sand coercive political leverage.

The evidences as to the international influences on cultural conflicts in many countries existing in the world demonstrate that such international influences have not completely been effective in successfully avoiding or mitigating such cultural conflicts. In particular, Philippine insurgents have mainly been persuaded by the supposition that the foreign governments continue to and directly influence the Philippines governance (Peleo, 2007). In other words, the decisions of beginning, intensifying, reducing, or ceasing armed resistance have been encouraged by insurgents’ perceptions towards international supports for efforts of the national government for the anti-insurgent. Throughout history, the Philippines governments have all the time deferred to foreign states’ decisions on a wide range of social, political, and economic issues. Especially, much of political culture of Philippines is able to be attributed to a variety of foreign influences. For instance, the Philippines country was a colony of Spain during the 16th century to the late 19th century and was redeveloped subsequently as a commonwealth by the US until 1935. It was also occupied by Japan during the period of 2nd World War, and after its liberation, the country was aligned with the US till the end of the Cold War. Filipino insurgent groups were active throughout these periods, and opposed not only foreign occupations but also the Filipinos who were said to be perceived as having gained the government office through foreign endorsements.

The European Union and the United State have alleged that the local insurgent groups in Philippines have expanded their capabilities and are regarded as the foreign terrorist organizations. These allegations, which were made from the perspective of the global war on terror, indicate that Philippine insurgents constitute a security threat not only for the government of Philippine but also for the US, the EU, and other foreign governments around the world. Accordingly, this renewed international interest in the insurgent conflict in the Philippine and provides evidences to the insurgents’ durability and the continuing appeal as to the idea of resistance towards a collaborationist government (Peleo, 2007).

According to Reuters (2014) Muslim rebels in Philippines, on 27th May 2014 has signed a final peace negotiation, to end the conflict together with the international supports from countries including the United State. However, as far as above facts pertaining to the continuity of cultural conflicts in Philippines are concerned, this peace deal does not seems to work in long run since potential threats as to lasting peace will remain, ranging from a small breakaway of MILF faction to criminal groups, Islamist militants connected to al Qaeda as well as feuding clans (Reuters 2014). Moreover, the sustainability of peace talks between the Philippines government and insurgents may vary with the current government reactions and political stability of the country.

In view of the above, it can be identified that a proper mechanism that goes beyond the peace talks is required for Philippines to cope with its cultural conflicts with various insurgents. Otherwise, it will be difficult to reduce the implications of such cultural conflicts that were exercising by people such as cultural and religion division, barriers in building care and trust for people, the continuity of culture of violence, and exposure to an environment of armed conflict together with a violent family feuds, poor access to health, education and social services (Sumndad-Usman, 2014), all of which eventually lead people to suffer and turn into rebels or bandits.

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Hence, it is prudent for the Philippines government to specifically admit to the systemic weaknesses within its governing regime which can motivate insurgents to resist. The government may need to sacrifice its privileged position as the victim of the insurgents’ security threats so that it can concede the legitimacy of grievance of insurgents. Although, this course of action may carries political risk to a certain extent, in particular for the government of a small state depending on a big-power state for the security, such confidence-building measure can ultimately convince both the insurgents as well as the government and that their interests are served by eliminating armed conflicts from political interactions, and by ruling out foreign influences on national governance and security issues.


Peleo, A. (2007), Living with a Culture of Conflict: Insurgency and the Philippines, Retrieved from: http://www.politicalperspectives.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/CIP-2007-01-04.pdf, (Accessed on 30th September 2014)

Crawford, B. (n.d.), Globalization and Cultural Conflict: An Institutional Approach, Retrieved from: http://aannaim.law.emory.edu/ihr/worddocs/jamail1.doc, (Accessed on 1st October 2014)

BBC (8 October 2012), Guide to the Philippines conflict, Retrieved from: www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-17038024, (Accessed on 2nd October 2014)

Sumndad-Usman, B. R.(25 July 2014), Building a Culture of Peace in the Philippines and Beyond, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bai-rohaniza-sumndadusman/building-a-culture-of-pea_b_5529494.html, (Accessed on 2nd October 2014)

Reuters (27 March 2014), Philippines, Muslim rebels sign final peace deal to end conflict, Retrieved from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/27/us-philippines-rebels-idUSBREA2Q1W220140327, (Accessed on 2nd October 2014)


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