Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/06/07MANILA1939.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA1939
2007-06-12 08:16
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO2250
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1939/01 1630816
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 120816Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6914
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 001939

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PINS PTER MOPS KISL MY RP
SUBJECT: AFP-MILF MEET TO SEEK SUPPORT FOR MINDANAO PEACE
AT A “CRUCIAL STAGE”

REF: A. MANILA 1543
¶B. MANILA 1243
¶C. MANILA 952
¶D. MANILA 828
¶E. MANILA 281

¶1. (SBU) Summary: Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) officers exchanged views
on the peace process and cease-fire mechanisms during an
unprecedented roundtable discussion on June 9. Participants
cited the MILF’s expeditious rescue and turnover of four
kidnapping victims to the AFP May 31-June 1 and use of the Ad
Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) to prevent Abu Sayyaf Group
and Jemaah Islamiyah members in the Sulu Archipelago from
relocating to central Mindanao as successes. While the
cease-fire continues to hold, challenges remain
on-the-ground, including “rido” (clan feuds), conflicts over
personal interests, land and water supply issues,
availability of firearms, inadequate support and/or
mishandling of internally displaced persons, the presence of
terrorists, criminal syndicates, and other lawless elements,
and the emergence of “a third party” determined to sabotage
the peace process. Philippine Government Peace Panel
Chairman Secretary Silvestre Afable Jr. requested support
from the AFP, MILF, foreign diplomatic community, and civil
society groups in overcoming obstacles to a strong, just, and
durable peace agreement for Mindanao at this “crucial stage.”
End Summary.

———————
First-ever Roundtable
———————

¶2. (SBU) On June 9, the Malaysia-led International
Monitoring Team (IMT) sponsored an unprecedented roundtable
discussion on the peace process and cease-fire mechanisms in
Cotabato City for commanders and officers of the AFP and the
MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF). The 30 AFP
and 20 BIAF participants all wore red, blue, or beige sport
shirts bearing the logo “1st AFP-BIAF Roundtable Discussion.”
However, many of the MILF’s key field commanders were not
present,

¶3. (SBU) The roundtable panel included IMT Chief of Mission
Major-General Dato Md Ismail Bin Ahmad Khan, Philippine
Government Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of
Hostilities (CCCH) Chairman Brigadier-General Edgardo M.
Guerrea, MILF/CCCH Chairman Von Al Haq, Philippine Government
AHJAG Chairman Major-General Benjamin Mohammad Dolorfino,
MILF/AHJAG Chairman Attorney Abdul Dataya, Philippine
Government Peace Panel Chairman Afable, Oblate Father With
Mary Immaculate (OMI) Inter-Religious Dialogue Coordinator
Father Roberto C. Layson, Bangsamoro Development Agency
Ustadz Abdul Kadir Abdullah, and Institute for Autonomy and
Governance Executive Director Attorney Benedicto Bacani, who
served as moderator.

¶4. (SBU) Among the observers were U.S., Canadian, Japanese,
and Libyan diplomats, members of civil
society/non-governmental organizations (including Bantay
Cease-fire, Non-Violent Peace Force, and Geneva Call), and
the media.

———————-
“Peace on the Horizon”
———————-

¶5. (SBU) IMT Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Mustapha Bin Omar
opened the forum by commenting that “we are here today
because we all believe there is light at the end of the
tunnel.” As he highlighted the 70-80 percent decrease in
armed encounters since the IMT’s deployment to Mindanao in
October 2004 and the absence of fighting for the past seven
months in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao Province and the past
three months in Midsayap, North Cotabato Province, Omar
proclaimed that “peace is on the horizon.”

¶6. (SBU) IMT Chief of Mission MG Khan emphasized the primacy
of the peace process when describing the mission, role,
objectives, and mandate of the 60-man IMT, which currently
includes 10 members from Brunei, 9 members from Libya, and 1
member from Japan. Khan noted that Canada and Sweden may
also become members of the IMT in the future.

———————————-
Cease-fire Holds, amidst challenges
———————————-

MANILA 00001939 002 OF 003

¶7. (SBU) The Philippine Government CCCH Chairman BG Guerrea
described the cease-fire mechanisms — IMT, CCCH, AHJAG, and
Local Monitoring Teams (LMT) — as “very effective” in
providing the relative peace that allowed the Philippine
Government-MILF Peace Panels to tackle substantive issues
during negotiations. According to BG Guerrea another LMT
will soon deploy in the new province of Shariff Kabunsuan,
bringing the total number of LMTs in conflict-affected areas
to 14.

¶8. (SBU) BG Guerrea and MG Khan identified one of the
greatest challenges to peace in Mindanao as traditional
“rido” (clan feuds); “there seems to be no end to rido,”
said Khan. They identified other key challenges and “gaps”
as: conflicts over “personal interests;” land and water
supply issues; firearms in the hands of unauthorized persons;
inadequate support and/or mishandling of internally displaced
persons; the presence of terrorists, criminal syndicates, and
other lawless elements; the emergence of “a third party”
determined to sabotage the peace process; exposure of
cease-fire mechanism officers to physical harm; the
vulnerability of the cease-fire to suspicion, bias,
criticism, and loss of confidence; and, “provocative
statements” that could undermine the peace process.

—————
AHJAG To Remain
—————

¶9. (SBU) MILF/AHJAG Chairman Dataya emphasized adherence to
AHJAG’s formal procedures/guidelines (e.g. validation of
target information, timely provision of written requests, and
advance notification) to reduce the potential for
misunderstandings and conflict during operations against
terrorists and criminal syndicates. With an exception for
“high priority targets,” Dataya noted that the AHJAG was
required to inform the Philippine Government/CCCH and
MILF/CCCH at least 24 hours in advance of conducting an
operation. He further noted that paramilitary and irregular
forces were not allowed to enter MILF areas in hot pursuit of
criminals.

¶10. (SBU) Philippine Government/AHJAG Chairman MG Dolorfino
said that, although the AHJAG’s implementing guidelines were
due to expire on June 21, the AHJAG mechanism — created on
May 6, 2002 but which only came into effect in 2005 — would
indeed remain operational with or without renewal.

—————
Success Stories
—————

¶11. (SBU) Several participants recounted cease-fire
mechanism “success stories,” notably the MILF/AHJAG’s rescue
and turnover of four kidnapping victims — including a German
national — to the Philippine military May 31-June 1. MG
Dolorfino explained how the cease-fire mechanism had also
recently prevented Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah
members in the Sulu Archipelago from relocating to Mindanao.
He described an alert against them along the entire coastal
area of central Mindanao, which had been “very effective”
against these terrorist organizations, and would likely force
them to look toward Tawi-Tawi, Malaysia, and/or Indonesia as
future places of refuge.

—————————-
Peace Talks at Crucial Stage
—————————-

¶12. (SBU) Secretary Afable attributed the postponement of
the May 1-2 peace talks in Kuala Lumpur to the May 14
Philippine mid-term elections but expressed hope that the
peace panels would soon be able to resume discussions on the
final issue of territory now that the elections were over.
Afable asked the AFP and MILF participants to insulate
themselves from pressure by “those who do not want peace to
succeed,” and requested support from the AFP, MILF, foreign
diplomatic community, and civil society in overcoming
obstacles to a strong, just, and durable peace agreement for
Mindanao now that the peace talks were at a “crucial stage.”

——-
Comment
——-

¶13. (SBU) This was a welcome initiative by the IMT, AFP, and
MILF, and again demonstrated a shared commitment both to the

MANILA 00001939 003 OF 003

AT A “CRUCIAL STAGE”

overall peace process and to the actual peace talks. The
Philippine Government was pro-active in ensuring the presence
of interested observers, including an Embassy representative,
as another recognition that the stakes for peace in Mindanao
are broader and deeper than the issues on which the
Philippine Government and MILF are currently negotiating.
The only dark clouds were the repeated references to a
would-be spoiler “third party” and others opposed to peace,
whose identities were left unspecified.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/

KENNEY

   

 

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