Oct 202014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/08/08MANILA1860.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1860
2008-08-05 12:35
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO3687
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1860/01 2181235
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 051235Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1500
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001860

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/06/2018
TAGS: PREL PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: ALL DETERMINED TO MOVE PEACE PROCESS FORWARD AFTER SUPREME COURT DELAYS AGREEMENT

REF: MANILA 1798 (GOVERNMENT AND MUSLIM INSURGENTS TO
SIGN TERRITORIAL AGREEMENT)

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: The Ambassador encouraged Philippine,
Malaysian, and NGO leaders, gathered in Kuala Lumpur for the
signing of a key agreement with Philippine Muslim insurgents,
to keep the peace process moving forward after the Philippine
Supreme Court temporarily halted the formal signing.
Overcoming disappointment, all parties expressed
determination to build support for the agreement. Philippine
Peace Advisor Secretary Esperon engaged energetically with
civil society leaders, Malaysian counterparts, and Muslim
insurgents (whose leaders were not visible). Malaysian
facilitator Datuk Othman said he was conveying to insurgent
leaders the need for calm, and hoped to officially announce
that Malaysia will maintain its contribution to the
international monitoring team. The overall atmosphere among
participants was realistic and positive. The Philippine
Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments on August 15, and the
government hopes it will lift the restraining order, allowing
for a formal signing of the memorandum thereafter. End
Summary.

Court Blocks Agreement Signing
——————————

¶2. (U) The Philippine Supreme Court issued a restraining
order late in the day August 4 over the signing of the
territorial agreement between the Philippine government and
the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a Muslim insurgent
group, just as government peace negotiators, Ambassador
Kenney, and other foreign observers were in-flight to Kuala
Lumpur for the signing ceremony. The Memorandum of Agreement
(MOA) on Ancestral Domain was scheduled to be signed August 5
in Malaysia and was viewed by the Arroyo Administration as
the next step on the path toward a comprehensive peace
settlement with the MILF and the establishment of a new
Muslim political entity. Concerned officials from North
Cotabato province and Zamboanga City filed two separate
petitions with the Supreme Court after noting in leaked
copies of the MOA that communities (barangays) in their
jurisdictions would be included in the new Muslim political
entity. Petitioners sought to exempt these communities and
force the government to conduct more consultations on the MOA
at the local and provincial levels.

¶3. (U) In its restraining order, the Supreme Court required
the government to submit the MOA text by August 8, set the
deadline for court briefs as August 11, and indicated oral
arguments would be heard on August 15. The Presidential
Palace said the restraining order was a temporary delay and
welcomed the Supreme Court’s announcement as an opportunity
for an “objective discussion” on the agreement. An MILF
spokesperson, meanwhile, called the move a “setback” but
noted the insurgent group was still committed to peace.

Observers Disappointed, but Still Support Peace
——————————————— —

¶4. (C) Ambassador Kenney, other foreign diplomats, and NGO
representatives who had traveled to witness the MOA signing
learned about the Supreme Court announcement after landing in
Kuala Lumpur. The news, while disappointing, did not affect
their unanimous determination to support the eventual signing
of the agreement. Ambassador Kenney encouraged those in
attendance to remain focused on the end goal of supporting
the peace process. During a meeting with NGOs, including the
Asia Foundation and the Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC),
Philippine Peace Advisor Hermogenes “Jun” Esperon reassured
attendees that the government was not wavering and still
intended to move forward with the peace process. MPC leader
Mary Ann Arnado said that her organization would file a brief
on the Supreme Court case and was working on engaging
stakeholders throughout the country, including bringing a
group to Manila to meet with members of the business
community and media.

¶5. (C) In a private meeting, Malaysian peace facilitator
Datuk Othman indicated to the Ambassador that Malaysia
intended to resume its participation in the international
monitoring team if the territorial agreement was on track by
August 30. With regard to the MILF’s subdued reaction to the
Supreme Court announcement, Othman noted that he was in touch
with the group to keep them calm and focused. The Ambassador

MANILA 00001860 002 OF 002

stressed that the U.S. stands ready to assist the peace
process and keep it moving forward, adding that we would
continue reaching out to the MILF and other parties to engage
in a deeper dialogue on how to bring about the conditions for
peace. The Ambassador also commented that, out of respect
for the rule of law, it was important for parties to respect
the authority of the Philippine Supreme Court. In a separate
meeting with the Ambassador, Mediation Adviser David Gorman
of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue discussed the
situation in Jolo as well as his praise for the effectiveness
of the Philippine peace advisor, Jun Esperon, a sentiment
shared by many.

Comment
——-

¶6. (C) The atmosphere among participants was quite positive
and realistic, after overcoming initial disappointment.
While Malaysia was perhaps most embarrassed, the gathering of
the parties and stakeholders seems to have brought disparate
groups together in support of the peace negotiations. We
will continue our engagement with all to encourage forward
movement toward their common goal of peace.

¶7. (U) Embassy Kuala Lumpur has cleared this cable.

JONES

   

 

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