Armed Group Governance and the Sustainability of Environmental Resources: The Case of the Philippines

Lead Research Organisation: University of the Andes - Colombia
Department Name: Economics

Abstract

Sustainable fishing and the conservation of maritime resources requires regulation, but also efficient coordination and governance of common resources (fisheries and fish stocks) by local fishing communities. Armed conflict can significantly affect such capacity for collective action, with important consequences for the conservation of maritime resources and the livelihoods of local fishing communities. Yet, these effects have rarely been documented and analysed. This project will investigate the ways in which armed conflict and the presence of armed actors affects the capacity of fishing communities to manage and govern fishing activities, how this affects the conservation of maritime resources, and how this in turn affects the livelihoods of fishing communities, existing structural inequalities and their resilience to poverty, as these communities are particularly vulnerable to changes in production and access to environmental resources and climatic change.

The project will focus on understanding the relationship between armed factions and fishing communities in the Southern shores of the island of Mindanao, the island of Basilan and the islands of the Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines. The region's armed conflict has induced a deep militarization of local economic, politics and societies but, to date, there is limited knowledge of how this has affected the fishing sector, the conservation of maritime resources, and how local fishing societies manage common fisheries, access sustainable livelihoods and build resilience to poverty. This project makes use of a multi-disciplinary, mixed methods approach to address this crucial gap in the literature. The juxtaposition of conflict and fisheries in the island of Mindanao is in addition a unique opportunity to understand the complex dynamics that emerges during conflict times and how governance structures of armed groups may cause lasting impacts on communities highly dependent on natural resources.

Planned Impact

This project aims to produce new knowledge on the relationship between armed conflict and environmental resources beyond current limited debates on the resource curse and the fear that climate change may exacerbate or generate new conflicts. By focusing on the relationship between local conflict dynamics and the day to day lives of local fishing communities dependent on maritime common resources, the project proposes to offer new insights into policy agendas that attempt to improve the lives of people vulnerable to both violent conflict and climate variation. To this purpose, we will engage throughout the project with key policy audiences and will, in addition, facilitate interactions between policymakers in Colombia and the Philippines with a view to strengthening South-South collaboration that will generate important lessons for other conflict-affected countries where the management of natural resources remains a challenge. The partnership between the Universidad de los Andes and the Asian Institute of Management and the Western Mindanao State University will be crucial to achieve this purpose.

The project will target policy audiences at the international, national and local levels, by using the extensive research networks and links the PI, Co-PIs and local researchers to ensure a broader impact. Three key engagement and impact activities will take place during the project and have been budgeted for: (i) local conference hosted by Western Mindanao State University; (ii) national conference organized by the Asian Institute of Management in Manila; and (iii) one video conference of policy-makers in Colombia and the Philippines to facilitate South-South policy dialogue. The IDS and the University of Illinois will facilitate international engagement with institutions such as the World Bank, USAID, DFID, the United Nations and other relevant organisations working on the nexus between conflict and the environment.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The conflict and violence in the Philippines has intensified significantly since 2017, posing challenges to the implementation of the project. In particular, we faced two challenges that delayed the implementation of the project. First, Mindanao was put under martial law in May of 2017. Initially, the martial law was to end on December of 2017 and was extended for the end of 2018. We had to postpone all the field work of the project and work closely with the Filipino authorities to receive their authorization and protect the research team. Second, violence intensified in Sulu and Basilan, the two islands in which we were going to conduct the field work. Although we had already started the qualitative work, we had to select a new region and adjust all the instruments for this purpose. Despite all these challenges, we were able to achieve most of the objectives of the research. Below we detail the achievements of the project:

1. Research methods: the project designed a qualitative instrument and quantitative survey to collect information to understand the ways in which armed conflict and the presence of armed actors affects the capacity of fishing communities to carry out their activities, and how this in turn affects the social organization and welfare of fishing communities as well as the sustainability of environmental resources. To the best of our knowledge, there is no research project that has addressed these topics in a multi-disciplinary perspective. The quantitative questionnaire and the semi-structured interviews were carefully designed drawing on the expertise of economists, political scientists and fisheries experts to collect information that would allow us to address the research question. These instruments are an important achievement of this research project. The quantitative data and the survey instruments are open access and would benefits other research groups.
2. Academic collaboration: the team has researchers from four countries: Colombia, Philippines, United Kingdom and the United States. The project has strengthened the academic collaborations of the team. In addition, we succesfully used virtual tools to overcome the challenges posed by the intensification of the conflict in the Philippines. Since we could not travel to the Philpinnnes to train the enumerators, we designed a web page with all the survey material (questionnaires, manual and sampling design), training videos, and tests for enumerators. Also, Gauthier Marchais had a virtual session with the survey team. The project website is www.fishingsurvey.net. The website is password protected. The password is Uniandes2019.
3. Research capability from training. The project developed training capability for researchers in the Philippines and Colombia. In the Philippines, the project funded the PhD field work of Manuel de Vera (IDS) and trained the group from WMSU. In Colombia, the project trained two Masters Students (María Adelaida Ortega and Sofia Castro). Sofía Castro used the data collected in the project for her Masters thesis. Her Masters Thesis examines the impact of sea surface temperature shocks on armed conflict-related violence in the 64 provinces with a coastline in the Philippines.the impact of weather shocks on fishing activities and on conflict. The thesis received a grade of 5/5 and will be soon published as a CEDE working paper.
4. Research findings. The results of the project can be summarized in four broad findings.

First, there is a link between fisheries and armed conflict. On the one hand, the analyzis of secondary data shows that, when the fishing ban is in place in Mindanao, violence intensifies. The results shows that the opportunity cost mechanism is driving this surge in violence. The contraction of labor demand from commercial fisheries and the canning industry push individuals to work with armed groups. However, the ban is not increasing yearly overall violence but reallocating the intensity of violence across the year. In addition, the qualitative evidence finds that during the fishing ban, elite networks associated to armed groups experience a decrease in their illicit taxation revenue, and tend to increase their other revenue generating activities, in particular kidnappings and rackets. On the other hand, the data from the quantitative survey shows that the fishing ban is benefiting municipal fisherfolk, as intended, and the benefits are higher for municipal fisherfolks living in barangays with armed group presence. The initial analysis suggest that lower fishing costs, namely gasoline and replacement parts, is one of the mechanisms that might drive the higher benefits of the fishing ban in barangays with armed group presence.

Second, the relationship between commercial fisheries and municipal fisheries is complex, tense and considered a source of violent conflict around fishing. These sectors rarely work togehter and compete for fishing resources. Commercial fisheries buy fish mostly from large companies and the employees of the canning industry are mostly migrants. Municipal fisherfolk claim that commercial fisheries do not comply with the ban and the 15 km ban restriction, draining their fishing resources .

Third, armed actors deploy a range of strategies to exert resources from the fishing industry such as pillage, taxing, extorsions, and direct asset seizure. The fishing industry has used several strategies to minimize these impacts. Many fishing vessels have deployed special paramilitary forces to protect themselves from armed groups. Also, complex protection arrangements have emerged in the region. Majors and heads of local governments play a central role in elite protection arrangements, due to the fact that the mayors can act as formal or informal interfaces with the fishing companies on one side, and with armed groups on the other- as they have close relationships with these.

Fourth, the project finds a strong relation between a changing and an intensification of conflict due to the decreasing income of the population and the governance structures imposed by non-state armed actors. The negative impacts of increases in sea surface temperature on agricultural production contributes to an intensification of conflict. Negative shocks of sea surface temperature reduces agricultural and fisheries production, mainly on some important commercial species such as sardines and anchovies. This unleashes some dynamics that incrases conflict. FIrst, non-state armed actors extort rents from the population through kidnapping. taxing of the population and extortion to fishing veseels. A declining fishing production due to sea surface temperature shocks pushes non-state armed actors to modify their strategy for extracting rents from the population relying more on kidnapping. Second, the declining fish catch is also associated with the population joining more non-state armed actors.
Exploitation Route The outcomes of the project are an important contribution policy and research wise. On the policy perspective, the project provides an important contribution about how armed conflict affects vulnerable populations highly dependent on natural resources. The initial results of the project were already presented on a seminar in Mindanao led by Western Mindano State University. In order to disseminate the results to a wide audience, the final results will be summarized in a policy brief. On the research perspective, the research team will present the results in academic seminar, publish working papers and submit the final papers to a peer-reviewed journal. In addition, the data of the quantitative survey is open access and other researchers may use the data for furhter academic and policy analysis.
Sectors Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description As we have mentioned before, the project suffered important delays in the schedule due to the martial law and the intensification of violence in Mindanao. Therefore, the impact strategy has also been delayed. In spite of finishing data collection by the end of September, WMSU already organized a seminar in Zamboanga city to present the results of the survey, promote a discussion among participants about these issues and receive feedback from participants. We provide a more detailed description of the seminar on the impacts section.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Title Qualitative research strategy 
Description The purpose of the qualitative component was to study two topics: (i) the social basis of non-state armed actors; and (ii) how armed groups influence the organization of the fishing sector. The study was broken into a macro-study of the region (Zamboanga Penninsula), as well as a set of more specific case studies of villages in the Zamboanga region. The study involved interviews with both state and non-state actors who have a wealth of information of the conflict and environmental conservation in the area such as: public offices, private companies, non-governmental organizations, armed groups, village authorities, ex-members of armed factions, small artisanal fishers and resident of local communities in fishing areas. The qualitative research strategy included a questionnaire that served as a guideline in 'specialist' interviews. The interviews were semi-structured. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact We finished collecting the data by the end of September and we have been working on the reports. Since the results and questoinnaire are not available, it is difficult to gauge yet the impact. 
 
Title Quantitative survey 
Description The quantitative survey comprises a: (i) household questionnaire; and (ii) community questionnaire. We will apply the survey to 1500 fisherfolks in the provinces of Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, and Zamboanga Sibugay. The sample is representative of municipal fisherfolks in the three provinces and is stratified in four groups: (i) municipalities with armed group presence and no fishing ban; (ii) municipalities with armed group presence and fishing ban; (iii) municipalities with no armed group presence and no fishing ban; and (iv) municipalities with no armed group presence and fishing ban. The household questionnaire collects information on: (i) household socio-demographic chracteristics; (ii) labour markets; (iii) housing characteristics; (iv) household's income, asset ownership and access to credits; (v) agricultural production; (vi) social capital; (vii) fishing production and trading; (viii) fishing governance and sustainability; and (ix) conflict and security. The community questionnaire collects information at the barangay level on: (i) demographic composition of the population; (ii) public goods and social infrastructure; (iii) fishing and fish markets; (iv) conflict, security and armed group governance. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The questionaires and data were upload to the UKRI archival data on February 2020. Given this is a short period of time, it is difficult to gauge yet the impact of the data. 
 
Description Research collaboration 
Organisation Institute of Development Studies
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The research team of the project work on four academic institutions: Institute of Development Studies - IDS (United Kingdom), Universidad de los Andes - Uniandes (Colombia), University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (United States) and Western State Mindanao University - WMSU (Philippines). The project has strengthened the collaboration among the four groups. The research team from Uniandes has: 1. Directed the project. 2. Led the quantitative component. 3. Participated with feedback, comments and suggestions to the qualitative component. 4. Administrated the project.
Collaborator Contribution The contributions of the other partners are: 1. The team from IDS led the qualitative component. 2. The team from Uniandes led the quantitative component in partnership with WMSU and feedback from the other members of the research team. 3. Benjamin Crost, the professor from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, led the paper using secondary data.
Impact 1. Design of qualitative component. 2. Household and community questionnaire. 3. Sample design. 4. Quantitative data. 5. Qualitative data. 6. Qualitative paper. 7. Paper with secondary sources. 8. Paper with qualitative and quantitative data. The collaboration is multi-disciplinary. The team has economists, policital scientists, development studies and agricultural sciences.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Research collaboration 
Organisation University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The research team of the project work on four academic institutions: Institute of Development Studies - IDS (United Kingdom), Universidad de los Andes - Uniandes (Colombia), University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (United States) and Western State Mindanao University - WMSU (Philippines). The project has strengthened the collaboration among the four groups. The research team from Uniandes has: 1. Directed the project. 2. Led the quantitative component. 3. Participated with feedback, comments and suggestions to the qualitative component. 4. Administrated the project.
Collaborator Contribution The contributions of the other partners are: 1. The team from IDS led the qualitative component. 2. The team from Uniandes led the quantitative component in partnership with WMSU and feedback from the other members of the research team. 3. Benjamin Crost, the professor from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, led the paper using secondary data.
Impact 1. Design of qualitative component. 2. Household and community questionnaire. 3. Sample design. 4. Quantitative data. 5. Qualitative data. 6. Qualitative paper. 7. Paper with secondary sources. 8. Paper with qualitative and quantitative data. The collaboration is multi-disciplinary. The team has economists, policital scientists, development studies and agricultural sciences.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Research collaboration 
Organisation Western Mindanao State University
Country Philippines 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The research team of the project work on four academic institutions: Institute of Development Studies - IDS (United Kingdom), Universidad de los Andes - Uniandes (Colombia), University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (United States) and Western State Mindanao University - WMSU (Philippines). The project has strengthened the collaboration among the four groups. The research team from Uniandes has: 1. Directed the project. 2. Led the quantitative component. 3. Participated with feedback, comments and suggestions to the qualitative component. 4. Administrated the project.
Collaborator Contribution The contributions of the other partners are: 1. The team from IDS led the qualitative component. 2. The team from Uniandes led the quantitative component in partnership with WMSU and feedback from the other members of the research team. 3. Benjamin Crost, the professor from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, led the paper using secondary data.
Impact 1. Design of qualitative component. 2. Household and community questionnaire. 3. Sample design. 4. Quantitative data. 5. Qualitative data. 6. Qualitative paper. 7. Paper with secondary sources. 8. Paper with qualitative and quantitative data. The collaboration is multi-disciplinary. The team has economists, policital scientists, development studies and agricultural sciences.
Start Year 2017
 
Description South-South collaboration 
Organisation Western Mindanao State University
Country Philippines 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution One of the goals of the project was to strengthen South-South collaboration between Universidad de los Andes - Uniandes- (Colombia) and Western State Mindanao University - WSMU- (Philippines). The activities of the project have sgnificantly strengthened this collaboration. The research teams from Uniandes and WSMU have led the design and implementation of the quantative survey with feedback from the other members of the research team. Both teams are now working together on the analysis of the quantitative survey.
Collaborator Contribution The contributions of WSMU were: 1. Data collection on presence of insurgent groups, municipal fisheries and commercial fisheries. 2. Support on the design of the household and community questionnaire. 3. Support on the sample design. 4. Training of supervisors and enumerators of the quantitative survey. 5. Supervision of the survey application. 6. Data cleaning and construction of fisheries variable. 7. Interpretation of results.
Impact The outcomes are: 1. Data base at the barangay level on presence of insurgent groups, municipal fishing and commercial fishing; 2. Household and community questionaire; 3. Sample design; 4. Project website with the survey manual, training videos, module tests and other information. The website is password protected. The password is Uniandes 2019 The partnership is multi-disciplinary. The disciplines involved are agricultural sciences, economics, mathematics.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Conference on project results in Philippines 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The forum of "Armed Group Governance and Sustainability of Environemtanl Resources: The Case of the Philippines" took place on the 18 of November of 2019 in Zamboanga city. Western Mindanao State University organized the forum. The participants included policy-makers, community leaders, fishermen, government employees dealing with programs on fishing communities, academe and other significant others in the community.

The purpose of the forum was to:

1. To validate and probe in the factors of the initial findings of the study focus on household information of fishermen , expenditure and consumption pattern, fishing activities, conflict and security and community information;
2. To solicit more information (not captured in the survey and focus group discussion) through workshop activity of participants that include needs assessment of fishing
household and communities, assessment of the roles in managing marine resource s and finally, solicit policy suggestions and recommendations relevant to the study.

The WMSU team analysed the data collected in the survey and prepared power point presentations for the forum. The research staff identified and send out invitations to different stakeholders mostly from the respondent barangays and municipalities with insurgent groups, one month before the scheduled forum. Directors and Heads of other government agencies associated with the project study were also invited to grace the occasion. Military personnel involved in the "Bantay Dagat" implementation of the Closed Fishing Season were also invited.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019