Oct 212014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/11/08MANILA2592.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA2592
2008-11-24 08:57
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO7687
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2592/01 3290857
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 240857Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2486
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002592

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/20/2018
TAGS: PGOV EAID PINR PREL PHUM KISL RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR CONTINUES PEACE AND SECURITY DIALOGUE WITH ARMED FORCES CHIEF OF STAFF

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In a November 19 private breakfast with
the Ambassador, Philippine Armed Forces Chief of Staff
General Alexander Yano said that his recent trip to the
PACOM-sponsored Chiefs of Defense Conference in Bali,
Indonesia had been productive from a regional security
standpoint, particularly with regard to building a stronger
relationship with his Indonesian counterparts. Yano said
Philippine military was still pressing the fight against
rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders in
Mindanao, whose attacks against civilians and government
forces over the last three months had displaced thousands and
temporarily disrupted the ceasefire between the government
and MILF separatists. Yano confirmed that President Arroyo
was monitoring the situation in Mindanao closely and that the
government remained committed to peace negotiations with the
MILF, but had to provide for civilian security first. Yano
highlighted the military’s successes against rogue MILF
commanders and agreed that although the military had the
moral high ground in the current conflict, restarting
civil-military operations was key to maintaining public
support for the armed forces. He suggested that the military
would seek to wind down current operations in central
Mindanao by Christmas. The Ambassador voiced concern over
the persistent problem of extrajudicial killings and
encouraged Yano to strengthen the military’s capacity to
address the issue. Commenting on the current internal
political scene, Yano said that despite the military’s firm
commitment to remain out of politics, he was frequently
prodded by various powerbrokers to get involved, which he was
firmly avoiding. END SUMMARY.

——————————————— —–
BUILDING STRONGER REGIONAL TIES AT CHOD CONFERENCE
——————————————— —–

¶2. (C) During a private breakfast November 19, Philippine
Chief of the Armed Forces General Alexander Yano told the
Ambassador that he had benefited greatly from his recent trip
to the PACOM-sponsored Chiefs of Defense Conference in Bali,
Indonesia November 10-14. Yano said that although the
conference focused on a wide range of defense-related topics,
humanitarian assistance was one he was glad to see receiving
a great deal of emphasis. Yano highlighted dialogue with his
Indonesian counterpart as being productive in strengthening
the burgeoning military-military ties between the two
countries, but lamented that unfortunately, he was not able
to engage his Malaysian counterpart as effectively.

——————————————— ————-
BUILD ON MILITARY’S SUCCESSES IN MINDANAO TO PROMOTE PEACE
——————————————— ————-

¶3. (C) Yano said that the Philippine military still was
pressing the hunt in Central Mindanao for rebel Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF) commanders who had unleashed a series
of attacks on civilians and government forces following the
breakdown of peace talks in August. Yano emphasized that the
armed forces were intent on re-establishing security for the
civilian population. He noted that the military had the high
ground and, to avoid losing support, would need to conclude
operations soon. As the MILF guerrillas increasingly used
ambushes and smaller units to attack the military, Yano said
his troops would have to reassess their tactics and
maneuvers, but still guarantee public safety. Yano thanked
the Ambassador for recent U.S. support in the capture of a
key terrorist — Jemaah Islamiyah facilitator Hajiruddin
Dansalan — November 2 in Mindanao.

¶4. (C) Yano emphasized that President Arroyo had made the
conflict in Mindanao a top priority and was regularly
querying military commanders on the status of the operations
while personally monitoring the government’s handling of
internally displaced persons. As evidence of her concern
over the situation in the southern Philippines — and to
highlight the improvements in security — Yano pointed to
Arroyo’s decision to hold a full cabinet meeting on Jolo
November 20, an event that in recent years would have been
precluded by security concerns. Yano agreed with the
Ambassador’s assessment that it was imperative to
reinvigorate civil-military operations in Mindanao, not only
to provide assistance to the displaced, but to further
diminish support for lawless elements by demonstrating the
benefits that sustained government presence offers in more
remote areas of Mindanao. Yano said that the Philippine

MANILA 00002592 002 OF 002

government remained committed to resuming peace negotiations
with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and hoped that a
ceasefire and resumed talks might be possible by the end of
the year.

—————————————
AMBASSADOR STRESSES MORE ACTION ON EJKS
—————————————

¶5. (C) The Ambassador raised the persistent and potentially
damaging problem of extrajudicial killings with Yano,
stressing the importance of continued progress in eliminating
all such killings, and investigating and prosecuting those
crimes that had taken place to date. She underscored that
illegal actions by the police and security forces undermined
public trust and set back efforts to bring stability and
economic growth to the most distressed areas of the
Philippines, especially Muslim Mindanao. Yano listened with
concern. He repeatedly has made public statements on the
need for the military to exercise discipline and work through
the legal system.

———————————–
MILITARY STEERING CLEAR OF POLITICS
———————————–

¶6. (C) Referencing the recent ouster of Senate President
Manuel Villar on November 17, Yano said it had caught the
military by surprise, although he thought it was a power play
by the other senators vying for the presidency in 2010. Yano
added that while there had not been any recent overt attempts
to co-opt the military leadership, he frequently was queried
by key political figures on the military’s stance regarding
the political situation. Stressing that this was a nuisance
more than a serious problem, Yano emphasized to the
Ambassador that the military was avoiding such distractions,
but that they underscored the persistent desire of a minority
to involve the armed forces in the political process.

——-
COMMENT
——-

¶7. (C) While the Philippine military continues its
disciplined campaign against rogue MILF leaders in Mindanao,
Yano’s admission that the government needed to look at a
timeline for concluding operations and re-engaging the MILF
on the peace process points to the potential end to the
fighting in the near term. Whether this is because the
Philippine military has exhausted its supply and personnel
reserves and will be unable to prosecute the campaign much
longer, or whether it reflects a recognition that the
government should capitalize on the gains they have made to
date, is unclear. Logistical support for the Philippine
troops has become a problem and the government is considering
diverting military modernization funds to cover materiel
replenishment costs. At the same time, the military has had
success in securing areas of Mindanao previously outside of
government control. Seizing on an expected Christmas lull in
the fighting could give the government the opening to
downscale operations against the rogue MILF and restart a
dialogue with MILF leadership on the peace process. Senior
Philippine officials are committed to the dual strategy of
reducing the threat of violence to civilians in Mindanao
while developing a way forward in the peace negotiations, but
knowing when to declare victory in the current conflict will
be key to maintaining public support. END COMMENT.
KENNEY

   

 

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