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Our Vision

IAG as the leading policy center on governance and human security in the southern Philippines and fragile environments with a recognized impact on sustainable peace and development

Our Mission

IAG will engage peoples, leaders and institutions in capacity building, dialogue and knowledge production towards evidence-based public policies and practices

Our Core Principles

Institutional capacity of indigenous peoples, women and other stakeholders in asserting their rights and performing their duties; and to promote democracy, rule of law, human rights and pluralism as the foundation of sustainable peace and development  

Autonomous powers and institutions in realizing the right to self-determination, subsidiarity and shared futures 

Glocal (global and local) perspectives and alliances on fragility, governance, human security and in the pursuit of political and developmental solutions


Our Story

The early 2000 was a period of instability and uncertainty for Mindanao. The implementation of the 1996 Peace Agreement of the Philippine government with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was precarious under the administration of President Joseph Estrada who launched in 2000 an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), another Moro revolutionary group.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which was envisioned as the political structure for Moro self-governance in line with the 1996 Peace Agreement was ineffective and its leadership generally perceived as lacking in capacities, corrupt and driven by their own political and economic interests. The failures of the ARMM to promote peace and economic development fueled people’s disbelief of autonomy as a solution to the Moro rebellion. 

Instead of forcing submission of the Moro people to the government's brand of autonomy, Estrada’s all-out war further radicalized the revolutionary fronts to revert to their historical demand for independence.

It is in this context of deadlock, uncertainty and hopelessness in Mindanao’s future that the Institute for Autonomy and Governance or IAG was born.

Started in 2001 as a program under the College of Law of Notre Dame University in Cotabato City under Dean Benedicto Bacani and inspired by university president Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr. of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, IAG developed into an independent institute devoted to research, training and technical assistance to evolve genuine autonomy and good governance as a way to peace and development in southern Philippines. 

IAG was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2005 and has grown since then its reputation for independence, consistency, inclusiveness and scholarship domestically and internationally. 

IAG’s regular semi-annual reviews, policy briefs, monographs and discussion proceedings are widely acknowledged as primary resource materials on Mindanao. 

IAG views autonomy as a broad and evolving concept that encompasses any political structure that is less than an independent state. It sees the promotion of autonomy in the southern Philippines as strategic. It provides the country’s minority Muslims and Indigenous Peoples platforms to evolve self-governance structures for meaningful self-determination, sustainable growth and lasting peace. 

IAG’s programs are anchored on the belief that the basic root of the conflict in Mindanao is injustice and underdevelopment; that it is essentially a political problem that requires a political solution; and evolving an effective and viable vehicle for Moro and Indigenous Peoples’ self-determination is the core of this political solution. 

IAG has engaged with regional and national executive authorities and policymakers, Moro revolutionary fronts, local government units, security sector and key leaders and thinkers toward building consensus on political, economic and security issues. 

We have regularly provided capacity-building programs to the Regional Legislative Assembly  during the time of the ARMM, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority of the present Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or BARMM, and constituent Local Government Units.

IAG’s Political Party Building and Development program trains groups and individuals on “genuinely principled” political parties and helps them build it. We believe that a genuinely principled political party is the basic building block and catalyst for change in the current and future political system in the Bangsamoro region and the Philippines as a whole. This program gives a chance for individuals to be able to appreciate and interact with co-participants and speakers on politics and political parties in a different perspective, exposing them to possible roles and responsibilities of joining a political party and the mechanisms that make an authentic party work.

IAG’s Political Dialogue program seeks to help shape a stable political environment in support of the Mindanao peace process. It engages political leaders in dialogue, capacity-building, research and studies to enhance their informed and principled participation in the crafting and implementation of the roadmap and processes for sustainable peace and development in Mindanao. This program serves as a platform to enhance the productive role and participation of political leaders and local government units in the evolution and implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Bangsamoro Organic Law. It provides technical assistance in institutionalizing the constructive role of political leaders and local government units and their relations with the regional government in regional legislations such as the regional local government and administrative laws.

IAG is committed to the development of public policies that promote and protect the rights and welfare of vulnerable groups. We provide capacity building assistance for the empowerment and strengthening of Indigenous Peoples’ self-governance as well as well as advocacy for socio-legal and administrative reforms in the BARMM. We championed and provided technical assistance in crafting local and regional policies, including the Bangsamoro Organic Law provisions on Indigenous Peoples, women, youth and children.

The pioneering researches we conducted on youth vulnerability, traditional madaris and the baseline studies on violent extremism in the Philippines are driving policies and programs for preventing and countering violent extremism in the country.

Our facilitation of inter-religious and political dialogue is well recognized and we lead in promoting inclusivity and social cohesion in the Mindanao peace process. IAG convenes the annual Kusog Mindanaw conference that brings together Mindanao sectoral leaders in dialogue on issues of peace, security, governance and development.

IAG provided technical assistance in the establishment of the Iranun Development Council, an economic and development aggrupation of five local government units in Maguindanao. We currently implement the same principle of interlocal cooperation, this time with five municipalities on the western seaboard of Basilan province that make up the Western Basilan Alliance. IAG’s Modeling Inter-LGU Alliance in Basilan or MILAB program involves raising capacities of LGUs in alliance-building and research, survey and mapping to identify areas for economic collaboration among others. It trains local economic development managers in feasibility studies, business planning and marketing. We also provide technical assistance in accessing loans and grants and public-private partnerships for local economic development.

IAG helped raise capacities of local government units, military and police in peacebuilding and security sector reforms. From a series of training-workshops we conducted for the uniformed men and women of the Armed Forces, we produced a security sector reform training manual, a vital resource from which Filipino soldiers can glean a broader understanding of their duties as peacekeepers.

IAG maintains a network of more than 100 civil society organizations in Mindanao that we assist in capacity building in peacebuilding, governance and politics.

As a homegrown public policy center with strong national and international linkages, IAG is able to help raise the bar of regional and local public policymaking to international standards even as we maintain sensitivity to the complexities and peculiarities of local settings, earning the trust and respect of a broad range of stakeholders.

By involving all stakeholders in discourses and capacity building on autonomy, governance and political solutions to the Mindanao conflict, IAG has contributed to the robust and constructive debate towards building the foundation for the hard task of evolving an autonomous, democratic, just and accountable political structure in southern Philippines.