Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/07/07MANILA2474.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA2474
2007-07-24 10:58
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO0749
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2474/01 2051058
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 241058Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7541
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002474

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS
USPACOM ALSO FOR J5
SECDEF/OSD/ISA/AP TOOLAN/REDMAN
JOINT STAFF/J5 (WILKES/ROBINSON/COLEMAN)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/24/2017
TAGS: PTER MOPS PINS RP
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT DELAYS PUNITIVE ACTION ON BASILAN

REF: A. MANILA 2428
¶B. MANILA 2369
¶C. MANILA 2358
¶D. MANILA 2344

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

¶1. (C) Summary. Senior government officials say they will
delay punitive military operations against the suspected
perpetrators of the July 10 beheadings of ten Philippine
Marines in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan. We have urged restraint and
protection of the peace process to senior government and Moro
Islamic Liberation Front officials, following a series of
inflammatory statements from both sides. Ambassador is in
contact with like-minded ambassadors from Japan, Australia,
Canada, and the United Kingdom to urge restraint and protect
our investments in peace and development. We are also
engaging government stakeholders such as the Secretary of
Agriculture and head of the National Economic Development
Authority. Local stakeholders in the peace process are also
urging restraint and an independent investigation of the
events on Basilan. We understand that National Security
Advisor Gonzales and Presidential Advisor on the Peace
Process Dureza have agreed that military operations would be
delayed, at least until July 27, when there may be further
meetings. End Summary.

———————–
Planned Military Action
———————–

¶2. (C) Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff
General Hermogenes Esperon, National Security Advisor/Acting
National Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, and
Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza
briefed the foreign diplomatic corps July 20 on the impending
military operations against the suspected perpetrators of the
July 10 beheadings of ten Philippine Marines in Tipo-Tipo,
Basilan. General Esperon said “punitive police actions”
would commence after an ultimatum to the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF) to surrender the perpetrators ended
on July 22. To preserve the peace process, Secretary Dureza
stressed that only the perpetrators of the beheadings would
be targeted under “limited objective operations” and not the
MILF as an organization. The deputy commander of Western
Mindanao Commander, Brigadier General Juancho Sabban, will
command the new task force, which has been named Task Force
Meteor.

—————————————–
Troops Deployed for “Surgical” Operations
—————————————–

¶3. (C) Defense Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor confirmed
to poloff on July 22 that three Marine battalions deployed
on Basilan were ready to begin “surgical” operations against
the perpetrators of the July 10 beheadings. Blancaflor noted
that Defense Undersecretary Tony Santos had been in Basilan
since July 21 to provide oversight to the operations, which
were planned to last one week, but could last as long as one
month. Blancaflor added that he and Secretary Dureza would
engage MILF leaders to avoid the spread of potential violence
in Basilan to central Mindanao.

———————————–
Stakeholders in Peace Process React
———————————–

¶4. (C) Ambassador is in contact with like-minded ambassadors
from Japan, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom to
coordinate messages of restraint and protection of the peace
process. We are also engaging Secretary of Agriculture Yap
and National Economic Development Authority Director Neri.
DCM spoke with MILF Vice Chairman for Political Affairs
Jafaar stressing the need to lower the rhetoric and prevent
any spill-over of violence into central Mindanao. Jafaar
recognized the importance of stopping the conflict from
spreading. DCM discussed the situation with Government Peace
Panel Chairman Garcia, who said he had personally urged AFP
Chief of Staff Esperon and Executive Secretary Ermita to
delay military action until after an independent
investigation could be completed.

¶5. (C) According to Government Peace Negotiations Panel

MANILA 00002474 002 OF 002

Executive Director Ryan Sullivan, numerous stakeholders in
the peace process, including foreign diplomats, religious
leaders, non-governmental organizations, and international
donors, are urging the government to allow time for peace
process mechanisms to guide an appropriate course of action
on Basilan. In a July 22 letter to Peace Panel Chairman
Garcia, Japanese Ambassador Yamazaki expressed “grave
concern” over impending military operations that could derail
the MILF peace talks. Lead convenors of such peace advocacy
groups as the Mindanao Peace Caucus, Consortium of Bangsamoro
Civil Society, and the Mindanao PeaceWeavers are requesting
an impartial and independent investigation of the beheadings
in accordance with the primacy of the peace process.

———————–
Joint Resolution Issued
———————–

¶6. (C) Sullivan said Government Committee on the Cessation
of Hostilities (CCCH) Chairman Brigadier General Gurrea and
his counterpart, MILF/CCCH Chairman Von Al Haq, signed a
joint resolution on July 22 calling for “maximum restraint”
by the Government and MILF, and the creation of a Joint
Fact-Finding Committee to determine the cause of the Basilan
incident. Gurrea and Von Al Haq also recommended the
deployment of a Mobile Joint Monitoring Assistance Team to
Basilan to prevent a further outbreak of violence.

¶7. (C) Gurrea and Von Al Haq traveled to Basilan July 23 to
begin their fact-finding mission. Sullivan said
International Monitoring Team members would support the Joint
Committee’s investigation in an advisory capacity from
Zamboanga City. Separately, Bantay Ceasefire representatives
are expected to begin an independent investigation of the
Basilan incident.

—————————
Military Operation Delayed
————————–

¶8. (C) Sullivan noted that a July 22 meeting with Cotabato
City Archbishop Orlando Quevado encouraged NSC Advisor/Acting
Defense Secretary Gonzales and Secretary Dureza to delay
Philippine military operations on Basilan until July 27.
MILF Peace Panel member Michael Mastura expressed hope that
the Archbishop’s intervention would “cool things down” so
that the Joint Committee’s investigation could proceed.

——-
Comment
——-

¶9. (C) The Philippine government understandably wants to
bring the perpetrators of the July 10 beheadings to justice.
There is no guarantee that these operations will not trigger
a renewed round of fighting and even spill over into central
Mindanao where some hard line MILF elements are itching for a
fight. We will continue to work with all sides to urge
restraint.
KENNEY

   

 

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