Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/06/06MANILA2623.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA2623 2006-06-23 02:07 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO8102
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2623/01 1740207
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 230207Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1651
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0117
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002623

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O 12958: DECL: 06/23/2016
TAGS: PREL PTER PINSKISL MY RP
SUBJECT: CONTINUED GRP-MILF COMMITMNT TO PEACE PROCESS

REF: MANILA 2013 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Pol/C Scott Bellard for reasons1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (C) Summary. Following a caim by the MILF for an
additional 1,000 wards asMuslim-dominated ancestral domain,
the Governmen of Malaysia will help to facilitate a joint
survey by GRP/MILF census experts, with a goal of compltion
by October 2006. The GRP believes that theMILF also remains
committed to the peace process but i under increased
pressure from religious eaders and faces internal strains.
The Swedish goernment is providing technical assistance on
posible disarmament models, but this would likely notfigure
in the initial peace accord. The GRP hop is for an interim
peace accord by late 2006 or arly 2007, possibly bypassing
final resolution ofboth ancestral domain and disarmament,
while aimng to work out these and other “details” in a
“plitical transition” over six to ten years. It sees
increasingly clear that both sides now view imrovements in
the situation on the ground – where peace is growing and
where the MILF is increasingly cooperating against crime and
terrorism — as the key goal, not agreement on the substance
of a written accord. We need to continue our assistance
efforts to promote these positive developments on the ground,
whatever happens with the substance of the interim or “final”
peace accord. End Summary.

¶2. (C) More demands: Chairman of the GRP Negotiating Panel
with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Silvestre
Afable provided additional details about the latest snag
(reftel) in the ancestral domain talks between the GRP and
the MILF in May. In addition to the 600 wards (“barangays,”
the smallest governmental unit in the Philippines) offered up
by the GRP as Bangsamoro ancestral domain, the MILF claimed
1000 more wards as either currently or historically
Muslim-dominated. The GRP has asked the Government of
Malaysia to oversee a joint or even tri-partite technical
survey, which would initially include some technical training
for MILF representatives by the Philippine National Census
Board. Due to a clear lack of MILF expertise and
insufficient personnel (as many as 4,000 census workers might
be necessary), Afable said that he had encouraged the MILF to
appoint representatives from civil society instead of or in
addition to MILF officials. He predicted that the one-month
training could start as early as July, with the joint census
taking about two months. His goal would be to have its
recommendations by October. Afable said that the GRP would
nonetheless insist on making the final decisions based on
current social demographics, not historical data, and
expressed optimism that the MILF would ultimately go along,
once it had participated in the joint survey and seen
conditions on the ground in these wards. He explained,
however, that these communities would ultimately have a free
choice to decide in a referendum whether or not they wished
to be part of a new Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, which he
said would only be phased in after the end of the current
tenure of elected officials in the Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao in 2008. Afable claimed that ongoing
MILF/MNLF talks were making some progress, although the
future status and role of Nur Misuari remained unresolved
issues.

¶3. (C) MILF dynamics: Afable suggested that the MILF
Central Committee was coming under increased pressure to make
additional demands from various religious leaders (ulamas),
and commented that the Central Committee did not appear as
unified as it had a year or even six months ago. He admitted
the possibility of a splintering of the MILF Central
Committee, but said that the GRP wanted the splinter to be as
“small as possible.” He claimed that the MILF leadership
under Chairman Murad nonetheless remained committed to the
peace process and an eventual peace accord. He inquired
about the possibility of bringing members of the MILF Peace
Panel, along with GRP Panel representatives, to Washington in
the next couple of months to meet with NGOs, the USG, and
Congress. Pol/C noted potential visa problems, and urged
that Afable share names of possible participants with Embassy
soonest in order to begin vetting process to avoid such
problems.

¶4. (C) Disarmament: Afable explained that the Government
of Sweden in May had provided five disarmament experts to
meet with the MILF. The next step will be a seminar in
Malaysia. He claimed that the MILF was “open” to the concept
of disarmament, but had insisted that it be
“across-the-board,” notably including weapons belonging to
local political chiefs not necessarily affiliated with the
MILF or MNLF. He said that the Swedes had pushed the idea of
creating a combatant database — names, addresses, photos —
in order to have a very clear picture of the problem, and

MANILA 00002623 002 OF 002

that the MILF was willing to consider working with a “third
party” on such a project. He noted that MILF “regular
troops” might only be two or three thousand men, with up to
another 10,000 more like local militia, not all of whom were
even armed. He welcomed an eventual role for USAID in a
program like LEAP for MNLF ex-combatants.

¶5. (C) Prognosis: Despite the hurdles ahead, Afable opined
that the two sides might “bypass” the final resolution of
ancestral domain and disarmament and move to sign a sort of
interim agreement as early as fall 2006, or more
realistically in early 2007. He claimed that both sides
clearly understand that an extended period — perhaps six to
ten years — of “political transition” will be necessary to
work out final details on these two key remaining issues as
well as to seek a modus vivendi with the ARMM in the
meantime, while pressing for Constitutional change ideally
leading initially to expanded autonomy and, eventually, to a
federal system.

¶6. (C) Comment: The apparent ever-lowering of the bar of
what it would take to achieve a “peace accord” is
disappointing, but mostly in an ideal world in which the
written word is the goal. In the real world of Mindanao, it
may be instead a valid recognition by both sides that what
truly counts most is the growing peace on the ground, with
better hopes for prosperity and development, and a greater
weaning away of the MILF from terrorist links with the ASG
and JI, along with enhanced GRP-MILF cooperation against
crime and terrorism through the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group.
If this can continue even absent a meeting of minds yet about
the logistics and substance of the post-accord era, it may be
an acceptable risk for both sides that we should continue to
encourage and support with new assistance programs, as
security permits.
Kenney

   

 

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