The Marawi siege and after: Managing NGO-military relations

27th September 2019

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Dr Imelda Deinla is a Fellow at the School of Regulation and Global Governance and the Project Director of the Philippines Project, a policy-engaged research initiative between ANU and DFAT on Philippine economy, trade, politics and governance.

by Rosalie Hall and Imelda Deinla

Mindanao has always been a militarised zone due to the combined influence of insurgency, high criminality, and clan violence. Yet the five-month Marawi siege in 2017 and the aftermath has further amplified what can be best described as a “securitised” state. More than 12,000 troops were deployed to fight and remove at least 500 heavily armed militants belonging to the Abu Sayyaf Group, Maute Group, as well as foreign and local fighters that had pledged their allegiance to ISIS. The whole region is still under martial law until the end of this year, which gives the military enormous power to quell any rebellion, as well as to arrest and detain suspected insurgents.

This makes for a challenging environment for NGOs to operate. Yet strengthening a harmonious and engaged civil society and military relationship is vital to securing peace and stability in Bangsamoro.

The intense fighting and aerial bombing of the city has led to a massive humanitarian crisis, displacing approximately 300,000 people leaving many of them homeless and without property. About 200,000 of those displaced went to evacuation centres, while the rest opted to be home-based. The Asian Development Bank has estimated the total damages and losses from the siege to be about $348 million, while at least $1.5 billion is needed to rehabilitate Marawi.

While the Philippine government, through its social welfare units and local authorities, provided humanitarian assistance to Marawi evacuees, the crisis spawned a civil society renaissance in the Bangsamoro area. A total of 128 organisations provided food, cash, health, water, sanitation and other services during and in the aftermath of the siege, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Read the entire article on The Interpreter.

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