Country Lead: Joseph H. Felter
The Philippines is home to some of the most protracted insurgencies in the world and provides an unparalleled opportunity to study multiple dimensions of insurgency, terrorism and other forms of political violence over long periods of time. Today, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front champions the centuries old struggle by the Moros in the southern provinces for a separate Muslim state; the Communist People’s Party and its armed wing the New People’s Army continue to wage a classic Maoist revolutionary war initiated over forty years ago in rural areas across the country; and the Abu Sayyaf Group known to have linkages with international terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, actively conduct kidnap for ransom and other illegal and terrorist activities in the far south provinces of Sulu, Basilan and portions of southwestern Mindanao. The Philippine government has employed various strategies, operations and tactics over time to address the threats posed by these insurgent groups and have achieved varying degrees of success and failure at local levels in these efforts.
Beginning in 2004, ESOC researchers were granted unique access to a wealth of information by senior leaders in the Armed Forces of the Philippines based on their expressed interests in better understanding conflict in the Philippines and how government security forces can best address these threats. Since then, ESOC has worked closely with its Philippine military partners to compile a comprehensive micro-conflict data set chronicling the Philippines insurgency and counterinsurgency experience from 1975-2010. These data are derived from full text accounts of internal security operations as they were reported at the incident level from the field in official military communications channels. A team of Philippine coders with operational military expertise working under ESOC supervision coded the many relevant details of these field reports into a comprehensive historical data set providing information on: the date and location of incidents; type of incident; military and police units involved; rebel group involved; initiating element; and various outcomes such as government casualties, rebel casualties, civilian casualties, prisoners taken, firearms lost and recovered, and many other relevant details. Additional historical data included in the ESOC Philippines collection include: information on the strength and location of government military forces conducting internal security operations; information on the deployment of territorial defense units knows as Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGUs); the presence and assessed degree of influence of insurgents; and extensive additional contextual data with geolocator information.
The ESOC Philippines collection is the most detailed, fine-grained, and long-running micro-data on insurgency and counterinsurgency available to date. The releasable portions of this comprehensive data set will be made publicly available with subsequent initial publications by ESOC members. These data promise to provide scholars an unprecedented capability to test a wide variety of theories and hypotheses explaining conflict dynamics in civil wars and insurgency with unprecedented empirical rigor.