Oct 212014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/11/09MANILA2393.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2393
2009-11-16 09:30
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO8793
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DE RUEHML #2393/01 3200930
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O 160930Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5802
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
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RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 002393

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/07/2019
TAGS: PGOV PTER PINS EAID RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND NEW PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER DISCUSS PEACE TALKS

REF: MANILA 2198 (CHARGE MEETS MILF LEADER)

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

SUMMARY
——-

¶1. (C) Newly appointed Presidential Peace Process Adviser
Annabelle Abaya told the Ambassador November 5 she hoped to
further the Philippine government’s peace negotiations with a
variety of insurgent groups in the eight months remaining in
President Arroyo’s term of office. The GRP would continue in
the coming days to engage with the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF), in advance of more formal peace talks. Abaya
felt her own years of work on peace talks with the communist
New People’s Army (NPA) had earned her some trust from the
other side, but she worried the NPA seemed unreasonably
demanding and faced various internal difficulties. Abaya
also noted the Philippine government preferred that the EU
retain NPA leader Jose Maria Sison on its list of designated
terrorists, although the EU seemed likely to support his
delisting. Factionalism within the Moro National Liberation
Front (MNLF) complicated GRP efforts to build on the 1996
peace agreement with that group. The Ambassador encouraged
Abaya’s efforts for constructive dialogue with the
government’s opponents, suggesting also a broader effort to
build public awareness and depoliticize negotiations. Abaya
welcomed USG projects that could help reintegrate former
insurgents into mainstream society. End Summary.

MILF TALKS
———-

¶2. (C) In a November 5 courtesy call by the Ambassador,
accompanied by the DCM and Poloff, Presidential Adviser on
the Peace Process Secretary Annabelle Abaya explained she
hoped to make progress in multiple negotiations during the
final months of the Arroyo administration, though she
acknowledged time could be insufficient, given that President
Arroyo is slated to leave office in June 2010. Abaya
explained that GRP negotiators would meet with Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF) counterparts in Kuala Lumpur the week
of November 9-13 to pave the way for more formal peace talks.
The Malaysian facilitator for those talks, Datuk Othman,
would visit Manila on November 9. To provide support for the
peace process with the MILF, Abaya suggested that she would
focus on increasing social dialogue among communities,
politicians, and NGOs in Mindanao in order to avoid a repeat
of the August 2008 collapse of the territorial agreement,
which she attributed to a lack of social dialogue and lack of
funding for a public relations plan that she had been asked
to design.

¶3. (C) The Ambassador and DCM provided a readout of the DCM’s
visit to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s headquarters at
Camp Darapanan (reftel), saying the Embassy believed both the
GRP and the MILF shared the ambition to reach a peaceful
settlement. Abaya agreed but cautioned that implementation
of a peace agreement would be difficult, even with President
Arroyo’s sincere backing. Still, she hoped the MILF would
continue its engagement with the government and not be
deterred by errant negative comments by senior politicians,
such as Secretary of the Interior Ronaldo Puno, who claimed
that the MILF bore responsibility for the mid-October
kidnapping of Irish missionary Michael Sinnott. Abaya
indicated she considered Puno’s remarks inappropriate; the
GRP should first leverage the MILF’s assistance in freeing
Sinnott, and could seek to assign blame for his abduction
afterwards. It was first and foremost necessary to gain
Sinnott’s safe release.

THE COMMUNISTS
————–

¶4. (C) Abaya appeared more confident about the prospects for
progress in talks with the communist New People’s Army (NPA),
although she did not foresee an imminent agreement. Before
assuming her new post, she had informally communicated with
exiled NPA leader Jose Marie Sison via a Facebook website,
and she has since sought to maintain a more communicative
relationship, showing her willingness to “just talk,” which
she has adopted as a new slogan. At a recent meeting of the
two sides’ legal panels, they were able, for the first time
in months, to have straightforward conversation. Abaya said
her long work on the GRP-NPA peace talks had won her a
measure of trust from the NPA and could help boost mutual
confidence between the parties.

MANILA 00002393 002 OF 003

¶5. (C) In her communications with Sison, Abaya had relayed
her pessimism about the NPA’s position, which was
characterized by an undue sense of entitlement. The NPA
should understand that the government had worked hard to
resume the ceasefire, and that it had put forth great effort
to reinstate immunity guarantees — and yet the communists
continued to make more demands, unfairly discounting the
positive actions the government had taken. Abaya said the
challenges for the NPA included unifying its voices and
accommodating varied opinions in its positions. The NPA also
faced the challenge of building the next generation of
communist leaders, as it was proving unable to recruit young
people to its cause. The 2010 elections would be important
to the NPA, which needed fundamentally to reinvent itself.
To further help the NPA acquire a more rational position in
negotiations, she was considering ways to educate NPA members
on how modern economies function. It was no longer
realistic, she said, for the NPA to put agriculture at the
center of its economic reform plan when that sector accounted
for less than 30% of the workforce.

¶6. (C) The Ambassador agreed that Sison should assume a more
realistic position in negotiations with the government, and
suggested that some progress in the peace talks could
eventually make it possible for Sison to return to the
Philippines. To encourage Sison to buy into the peace
process, Abaya said she wanted to make Sison feel he was
being recognized for the “sacrifices” he made for the
Philippines.

¶7. (C) The GRP and NPA were preparing to recommence formal
talks within the next three to four weeks, Abaya said. She
noted the EU might remove Sison from its list of terrorists.
Doing so would eliminate some of the GRP’s leverage over him,
and the GRP preferred for Sison to remain designated as a
terrorist — but Abaya acknowledged talks had not succeeded
during his time on the EU’s list.

MNLF TALKS
———-

¶8. (C) Abaya said the GRP and the Moro National Liberation
Front (MNLF) were still working toward a joint proposal to
address unfulfilled commitments made in the 1996 Final Peace
Agreement. In order to achieve a comprehensive peace, it was
critical for the two sides to have a deep and lasting
conversation, but MNLF factionalism complicated the GRP’s
efforts. The Ambassador welcomed the government’s continued
efforts to improve ties with the MNLF, saying that achieving
a durable peace with even one of the Philippines’
insurgencies would have a significant impact on the country’s
security and economic environment, and a peace agreement with
one group could facilitate the conclusion of agreements with
the others.

BROAD PRESCRIPTIONS
——————-

¶9. (C) The Ambassador encouraged GRP efforts to brief
presidential candidates on the various peace talks, and she
suggested that the GRP could also usefully seek to inform the
broader public, so that these negotiations might be less
politicized. Abaya said the USG could assist her efforts by
continuing to undertake development projects in Mindanao.
She noted in particular her hope to send reformed NPA
fighters abroad, so they could acquire a more global
perspective and learn skills to facilitate their integration
into society. The Ambassador mentioned the USG’s prior
training of young men in auto repair, adding that involving
women and children in projects also helped to reduce
violence.

MINDANAO RECOVERY TASKFORCE INEFFECTIVE
—————————————

¶10. (C) Abaya noted that the government’s plan to provide
broad, coordinated humanitarian assistance in
conflict-affected areas of Mindanao — known was Task Force
HELP (Health, Education, Livelihood, Progress) — has
achieved little since the President created the group in
June. News about the effort fizzled shortly after it was
announced, Abaya said, and interagency confusion about the
responsibilities of the Task Force contributed to its
ineffectiveness. Under Abaya’s initiative, the Task Force
would meet in early November in Davao, bringing all relevant
government agencies together to craft a strategy for the
program. Abaya intended to continue to make use of NGOs in
Mindanao as purveyors of humanitarian assistance, since they

MANILA 00002393 003 OF 003

proved themselves to be far more efficient than the
government, which was hobbled by high administrative costs.

COMMENT
——-

¶11. (C) With her extensive background in peace negotiations,
Abaya has strong credentials for her position and a unique
driving ambition — but perhaps lacks concrete proposals that
could be implemented during her anticipated brief tenure. We
found her well informed, reasonable, and committed to the
difficult tasks ahead. While it would take a major effort
from both sides to conclude a final peace agreement with the
MILF — and even more so with the NPA — before Arroyo’s term
ends, developments over the coming months could have a
significant impact on the next administration’s interest in
continuing serious talks with its foes.

KENNEY

   

 

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