Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/08/08MANILA1940.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1940
2008-08-13 08:53
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO9339
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1940/01 2260853
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 130853Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1605
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001940

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/13/2018
TAGS: MARR MAS MCAP PGOV PREL PTER RP
SUBJECT: ARMED FORCES CHIEF DISCUSSES MINDANAO CLASHES, PEACE PROCESS WITH AMBASSADOR

REF: A. MANILA 1929 (PHILIPPINE MILITARY IN CONTROL IN
CENTRAL MINDANAO)
¶B. MANILA 1922 (PHILIPPINE FORCES SEEK TO ENFORCE
RULE OF LAW)
¶C. MANILA 1875 (PHILIPPINE FORCES PREPARED BUT
RESTRAINED IN FACE OF VIOLENCE)

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander
Yano told the Ambassador August 13 that Philippine military
forces had largely expelled rogue Muslim insurgent units from
villages they had occupied in central Mindanao, and forecast
that thousands of displaced villagers would soon be returning
to their homes as major military operations wound down. Yano
praised the performance of Philippine military units in the
fighting, and stressed that the armed forces had achieved two
key goals: forcing a quick resolution to the illegal
occupations, while not widening the conflict with the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Yano suggested the recent
clashes might actually have aided the peace process by
underscoring to Muslim leaders that they could not achieve
their goals on the battlefield, thus reinforcing the
importance of a negotiated settlement. He voiced
appreciation for U.S. military forces keeping a low profile
in central Mindanao in recent days, to avoid being drawn into
the fray, and voiced confidence that he would now be able to
attend annual high-level bilateral military talks next week
in Hawaii. The Ambassador reiterated U.S. support for
Philippine efforts to craft a durable peace agreement that
could build a peaceful Mindanao that contributes to a unified
and prosperous Philippines. END SUMMARY.

MAJOR MILITARY OPERATIONS OVER
——————————

¶2. (C) In a private breakfast with the Ambassador August 13,
General Yano stated flatly that the Philippine military had
achieved rapid success in its efforts to quickly expel rogue
elements of the Muslim-separatist Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) from villages they had seized in recent weeks in
North Cotabato Province in Central Mindanao. Yano pronounced
operations in North Cotabato essentially complete, and
estimated that some 130,000 displaced residents could soon
return to their villages, following the AFP’s dismantling of
landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) left behind
by retreating MILF guerrillas.

¶3. (C) Yano described the Army’s initial hesitation, in view
of sensitive ongoing peace negotiations, to take action
against rogue elements of the MILF who had earlier seized
control of a dozen predominantly-Christian villages in North
Cotabato Province, in central Mindanao. However, the
increasingly aggressive stance of the rebels finally forced
the government to set an August 8 deadline for the MILF’s
withdrawal. Gen. Yano recounted how, bearing in mind the
MILF’s disjointed organization and communication, he had
opted to extend the deadline in the field, in order to allow
the insurgents every possible opportunity to withdraw without
further violence. The armed forces chief outlined
discussions he had held with mayors and the governor of the
affected area, during which he emphasized the importance of
not allowing the violence in North Cotabato to broaden into a
larger conflict between Muslims and Christians. Yano also
described meetings with mainstream MILF leaders, who finally
had to concede that they were unable to control the renegade
MILF fighters.

¶4. (C) Turning to the tactical details of the operation,
Yano described how he had deployed heavy mechanized vehicles
already in place in Davao in southern Mindanao, mobilized
troops from both eastern and western Mindanao commands, and
placed in charge his deputy, Gen. Cardozo Luna. Yano said
that from the outset, the AFP’s strategy had been to project
overwhelming force, in order to avoid a protracted engagement
that would allow the MILF to move in reinforcements, and
likely entail additional casualties among both civilians and
the military. Yano cited the operation’s excellent
logistics, noting how soldiers from Quezon and Samar
provinces and the Visayas had been airlifted to the
battlefield in less than a day via Air Force C-130 aircraft.
Yano expressed pride in the performance of his troops, who
were already well-acquainted with the battleground, and who
were carefully apprised of the limited nature of the
operation and instructed not to pursue MILF forces once
liberation of the affected villages was complete. He
underscored that the MILF rogue command, taken aback by the
robust firepower the AFP brought to bear, suffered heavy
casualties.

MANILA 00001940 002 OF 002

MOVING FORWARD WITH PEACE PROCESS
———————————

¶5. (C) Gen. Yano expressed optimism that the peace process
would move ahead despite the fighting. He opined that,
rather than posing a setback, government forces’ rapid
victory over rogue MILF elements might actually help matters,
in that it reinforced the primacy of peaceful negotiations by
clearly demonstrating to the MILF that it could not achieve
its aims on the battlefield. Yano noted that the AFP’s rapid
success in North Cotabato might even permit his participation
— if perhaps a day late — in upcoming August 18-22 meetings
of the U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense Board – Security
Engagement Board (MDB-SEB) in Hawaii. The Ambassador
reiterated U.S. support for Philippine efforts to craft a
durable peace agreement that can create a peaceful Mindanao
that contributes to a unified and prosperous Philippines.

KNOCKOUT BLOW FOR TERRORISTS
—————————-

¶6. (C) Turning to continuing joint counterterrorism efforts,
the armed forces chief expressed his view that the time was
at hand to “deal a knockout blow” to al-Qaeda-linked Abu
Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Jema’ah Islamiyah terrorists at large
in remote areas of Jolo island. While acknowledging the key
importance of cooperation with U.S. military advisers on the
ground, he expressed confidence in his troops’ ability to
carry out such an operation. The Ambassador welcomed Yano’s
commitment to this key counterterrorism goal and lauded the
ever-improving capabilities of the Philippine armed forces.
Yano closed by indicating that he looked forward to
participating in groundbreaking ceremonies for USG-funded
improvements to the Jolo City Airport, which he opined will
further enhance security in the Sulu Archipelago.
KENNEY

   

 

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