The Muslim communities in what is now the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) experienced at least two major conflict episodes where secessionist rebels and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troops were the major players — during the 1972-1981 Martial Law of the Marcos regime (1965 to 1986) and the 2000 All-Out War under the Estrada administration (1998 to 2001). But aside from the military-rebel encounters during these times, Ninal (1999) reports that there were also sporadic violent outbreaks of local conflict episodes between feuding families and between the respective members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the breakaway Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). All these violent confrontations often caused the displacement of families as people scrambled to get out of the line of fire.
Williams (2001) concludes that displacement has a dramatic effect on individuals in terms of their performance of social roles and responsibilities. Residents of conflict-affected communities face considerable difficulties as violence results in lost lives and livelihood resources. Houses are damaged, abandoned, ransacked, or totally burned down. During times of war and immediately following periods of armed conflict, the noncombatants — women, children, and the elderly — suffer as much or sometimes more than the warriors themselves. In communities where their men are drawn to go to war, women are left to fend not only for themselves but for the children and elderly as well. And while such may be regarded as an empowering opportunity for the women concerned, it is especially trying for those who were not trained for livelihood skills (Williams, 2001).