Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/10/09MANILA2253.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2253
2009-10-27 04:09
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO0771
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2253/01 3000409
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 270409Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5528
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002253

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/27/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS RP
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT, MINDANAO REBELS PREPARE FOR MORE INFORMAL TALKS

REF: A. MANILA 2217 (PHILIPPINE PEACE PANEL CHAIR
OUTLINES TALKS WITH MILF)
¶B. MANILA 2198 (CHARGE DISCUSSES PEACE PROSPECTS
WITH MILF LEADER)

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: At an October 26 meeting, Department of
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis reconfirmed the
agenda for upcoming informal talks in Kuala Lumpur with a
southern Philippines rebel group and asked the DCM for an
outline of her October 16 visit to the rebels’ headquarters
near Cotabato City. Seguis said the Philippine government
and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) still planned to
negotiate the content of a Civilian Protection Mechanism
agreement as well as the list of countries that would
comprise the International Contact Group at the October 27
meeting. He welcomed the DCM’s October 16 meeting with the
MILF as a sign of U.S. support for the peace process, and
greatly appreciated the DCM’s informing him about the visit
beforehand (Ref A). The DCM briefly outlined her discussion
with MILF Chairman Murad, noting that the U.S. reaffirmed the
principles expressed in a 2003 letter from A/S Kelly to the
MILF Chairman (Ref B). Both Malaysia and the Philippine
government, Seguis said, were now seriously engaged on moving
the peace process forward. He expressed a new confidence in
Malaysia’s role and described the Philippine government’s
efforts to lay a foundation for transitioning the peace talks
to a new administration following the May 2010 elections.
END SUMMARY.

CIVILIAN PROTECTION TOPS AGENDA AT ONE-DAY TALKS
——————————————— —

¶2. (C) Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis invited
the DCM to his office October 26 to discuss the informal
talks to be held this week in Kuala Lumpur with the southern
Philippines insurgent group Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF) and to learn about the DCM’s October 16 visit to MILF
headquarters at Camp Darapanan. At a planned meeting October
27 in Kuala Lumpur, Seguis said the two sides hoped to
exchange drafts of a Civilian Protection Mechanism (CPM)
agreement to protect internally displaced persons (IDPs) and
civilians in conflict zones (Ref A). While the Philippines
was already a signatory to the Geneva Convention, the MILF —
as a non-state actor — was not, and a protection agreement
could help hold the MILF accountable for its attacks on
civilian populations. Citing Philippine sovereignty, Seguis
said the GRP disagreed with the MILF’s proposal to invite
foreign policing entities to Mindanao, including police
forces from Islamic states such as Qatar, although
international NGOs such as the International Committee for
the Red Cross would be acceptable. At the meeting, Seguis
said he would once again be polite and respectful to the MILF
Peace Panel members, including “hardliner” Michael Mastura,
because “honey attracts more flies than vinegar.”

COMPOSITION OF THE CONTACT GROUP
——————————–

¶3. (C) Seguis said the parties also planned to discuss their
lists of recommended countries for the International Contact
Group (ICG), though he expressed concern the MILF would seek
to include countries that the GRP would oppose. The parties
would not create terms of reference for the ICG, leaving it
up to ICG members themselves to determine the scope of their
contributions to the peace process. The DCM cautioned that
terms of reference could help ICG members to have a clear
understanding of what they would be expected to do. Seguis
explained that the GRP’s overriding concern was to leave the
ICG role broad and unrestricted to avoid getting “stuck” in
the MILF’s myopic view of the group. The GRP would listen to
the ICG, but would have to obey Philippine law regardless of
what recommendations emanated from the ICG. Seguis noted
that the MILF seemed to have forgotten that the ICG members
would be state actors who are already bound by the UN Charter
to principles of non-interference and territorial integrity.

SEGUIS WELCOMES U.S. MEETING WITH MILF
————————————–

¶4. (C) Turning to the DCM’s October 16 meeting with MILF
leaders, Seguis emphasized that the Philippines welcomed the
U.S. visit to the MILF’s Camp Darapanan in support of the
peace process, and greatly appreciated the DCM’s informing
him beforehand about the visit. Although he said he
discouraged Ambassadors from meeting with the MILF, he
proudly insisted there were no prohibitions in the

MANILA 00002253 002 OF 002

Philippines on whom foreign diplomats could meet. “We
already allow the peace process to be facilitated by another
country,” Seguis noted, in a reference to Malaysia, “so why
not allow another country to see the MILF?” The Japanese and
European Union missions, Seguis noted, visited Camp
Darapanan, so there was no reason for the U.S. to be an
exception. The DCM briefly described her October 16
discussion with MILF Chairman Murad, including the
reiteration of principles outlined in the 2003 letter from
A/S Kelly to the MILF, the MILF’s emphasis on the U.S.
historical role in Mindanao, and the MILF’s ambiguous request
for the U.S. to play a larger political role in the peace
process (all previously reprinted by the MILF on their web
page).

MALAYSIA PLAYS A MEANINGFUL ROLE
——————————–

¶5. (C) Following a recent meeting with Malaysian Prime
Minister Najib Razak, Seguis said he concluded that Malaysia
has a strategic interest in a peaceful solution to the
GRP-MILF conflict, despite hyperbolic news stories that
asserted otherwise. Increased Philippine-Malaysian
cooperation in ASEAN and the possibility of Mindanao violence
driving refugees to Sabah all but ensured Malaysia’s sincere
interest in a negotiated settlement. Following the October
27 informal talks, Seguis noted, Malaysian facilitator Datu
Othman was planning to arrange a luncheon for foreign mission
Ambassadors in Kuala Lumpur interested in learning about the
ICG.

PREPARING DOMESTIC CONSTITUENCIES
———————————

¶6. (C) Seguis noted that he and Annabelle Abaya, appointed by
President Arroyo to be the new Presidential Adviser on the
Peace Process (OPAPP) October 24 (septel), were working on a
strategy to handle the challenges of the upcoming election
season. The government was preparing to brief Philippine
presidential candidates on the peace process and would
attempt to avoid triggering adverse Philippine Supreme Court
decisions, like the August 2008 temporary restraining order
that derailed the signing of a territorial agreement with the
MILF. Should a constitutional convention convene to amend
the Philippine Constitution, the government would agree, if
necessary for a peace agreement, to recommend changes to
Congress, although could not guarantee their passage. The
government would continue to adhere to a two-track approach
to peace through negotiation and reconstruction.

COMMENT
——-

¶7. (C) As the parties return to the “informal” negotiating
table this week, observers will be looking for signs that the
parties can build on the progress to date: the July ceasefire
and the September agreement that endorsed the creation of the
ICG. While there are likely to be disagreements, including
the precise composition of the ICG and the role of foreign
policing entities within the Civilian Protection Mechanism,
the parties have thus far shown a willingness to talk through
their differences.
KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.