Oct 212014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/05/07MANILA1771.html

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA1771
2007-05-30 09:37
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO9697
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1771/01 1500937
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 300937Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6721
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001771

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/30/2017
TAGS: PREL PINS KISL MY RP
SUBJECT: ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL MEETS WITH GOVERNMENT
PEACE PROCESS LEADERS

REF: A. MANILA 1543

¶B. MANILA 1337
¶C. MANILA 952
¶D. MANILA 281

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

¶1. (C) Summary: EAP Assistant Secretary Hill and
Ambassador underscored U.S. interest in a successful peace
process in Mindanao in a May 25 meeting with key Philippine
contacts involved in Mindanao and in peace talks with the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Malaysian-sponsored talks
will resume once the Philippine government clarifies its
latest offer on territory. The government’s goal is to
supplant regular August 2008 elections in Mindanao with a
transitional council for a new Muslim political entity. U.S.
quiet diplomacy, along with assistance programs from USAID
and the U.S. military as well as ship visits, is keeping the
government and Muslim leaders focused on a successful peace
process, which would strengthen the Philippines as a partner
and help deny sanctuary to terrorists. End Summary.

—————————
Status of MILF Negotiations
—————————

¶2. (C) While in Manila to attend the ASEAN Regional Forum
Senior Officials Meeting (septels) on May 25, EAP A/S Hill
and Ambassador Kenney met with Secretary Silvestre “Yong”
Afable, lead Philippine government negotiator with the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and Major-General Ben
Dolorfino, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ most senior
Muslim officer, who heads the North Capital Region command as
well as the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group in Mindanao. DCM and
EAP Special Assistant Gibbons also attended.

¶3. (C) Afable described the main issue in negotiations —
territory — and specifically how much additional territory
to add to the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
(ARMM) to form a new Muslim autonomous political entity. The
government has offered to add 600 Muslim-majority villages,
many non-contiguous to the ARMM. The MILF had demanded half
of Mindanao, based on historical Muslim majorities.
Malaysian facilitators have helped scale back MILF demands,
and now differences exist in just a couple of provinces,
according to Afable. President Arroyo had decided to wait
until after the May 14 elections to decide how much leeway
the government would have. Afable commented that a deal is
within reach, but that it would depend on genuine political
will in Manila to offer some Christian-majority
municipalities to the new Muslim-led political entity.
Afable said that the Malaysians would host another informal
round as soon as the Philippine government’s position is
clearer. In response to A/S Hill’s inquiry, Afable praised
the Malaysian role, as well as U.S. support and growing
interest from Canada, Japan, and others.

———————-
Status of MNLF in Jolo
———————-

¶4. (C) MG Dolorfino recalled how Moro National Liberation
Front (MNLF) founder and chairman Nur Misuari had led a
breakaway group into armed rebellion in 2001, complaining
about the implementation of the peace agreement the MNLF
signed in 1996. Hundreds died in battles with the Philippine
military, with more recent deadly clashes in February 2005
and again in April 2007 on Jolo island. After capture in and
extradition from Malaysia, Misuari remains under house arrest
and on trial in Manila, although Philippine authorities
permitted him to run for Sulu governor in May (he lost). MG
Dolorfino confirmed that MNLF commands remain intact in camps
in several parts of Jolo. He described his role as an
emissary to MNLF commanders, who have agreed to let AFP
troops operate in their areas. He added that fighting with
rogue MNLF commander Habier Malik had now dissipated.

———————–
Reaching peace by 2008?
———————–

¶5. (C) Afable and Dolorfino described how the government’s
recent offer of self-determination would require the MILF,
MNLF, and local Muslim political leaders to figure out how to
govern themselves, which would take a transition period of
three to five years. The Malaysians and the Organization of
Islamic Conference (OIC) are trying to broker a meeting
between MILF and MNLF leaders, which they noted would be a

MANILA 00001771 002 OF 002

significant achievement. Afable predicted that Muslim
leaders would eventually establish a consultative council of
regional leaders, senior to a parliament. The OIC, which
recognizes Misuari and the MNLF as the sole representatives
of Muslims in the Philippines, plans to hold a tri-partite
conference of the Philippine government, MNLF, and OIC in
July to review implementation of the 1996 agreement. Afable
said that the timeline for completing MILF territory
negotiations and bringing Muslim leadership together was
tight, given the government’s goal of supplanting regular
ARMM elections in August 2008 with a transitional council for
the new Muslim political entity. Afable commented that, if
the parties miss that deadline, it would be very difficult to
implement a new agreement during the Arroyo presidency.

¶6. (C) A/S Hill and Ambassador reiterated the strong U.S.
interest in and support for a successful peace process for
the benefit of the peoples of Mindanao and to strengthen the
Philippines as a partner. They underscored that such success
would also help to banish terrorists from both Jolo and
central Mindanao. Afable agreed that a successful peace
process would enable MILF and MNLF leadership to become more
fully cooperative in eradicating terrorists from certain
commands that now give them sanctuary, and to enter normal
governing structures.

¶7. (C) Comment: Our quiet diplomacy with the MILF Central
Committee and the Philippine government has helped keep them
focused on the benefits of peace. Assistance programs by
USAID and the U.S. Special Operations Task Force-Philippines,
as well as the impact of ship visits such as the USS Blue
Ridge, USNS Mercy, and, next month, the USS Pelelieu, further
enhance our leverage and enable us more clearly to
demonstrate to Muslim leaders and citizens throughout
Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago these benefits. Once the
mid-term election counting is complete, the Embassy will
again intensify travels to the region to press for peace in
key localities.

¶8. (U) A/S Hill did not have the opportunity to review this
message.

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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