Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2010/01/10MANILA73.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10MANILA73
2010-01-14 09:20
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 000073

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/15/2020
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT RACING AGAINST TIME FOR MILF PEACE AGREEMENT

REF: A. MANILA 2649 (MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE: INFLUENTIAL
MAYOR AND POLICEMEN IN CUSTODY)
¶B. MANILA 2509 (INFORMAL GOVERNMENT-MILF TALKS
RESUME DECEMBER 8)

Classified By: DCM Leslie A. Bassett, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The Philippine government and the insurgent
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are poised to continue
difficult discussions this month on a comprehensive peace
agreement, even as the Philippine government questions how
much progress can be made in reconciling the parties’ distant
positions before President Arroyo leaves office in June.
Philippine and MILF negotiators are expected to exchange
drafts of a comprehensive peace agreement through the
Malaysian facilitator during the week of January 18 — at
which point the parties will have a clearer understanding of
precisely how much work remains to be done. Malaysia may
consider stepping down as peace process facilitator, making
its tenure coterminous with President Arroyo’s
administration. The International Contact Group has met
twice to discuss its role in the peace process and the status
of negotiations, although its cautious members appear
reluctant to do anything more. Staffing changes in the
government could potentially affect the pace or substance of
peace talks. Meanwhile, in Mindanao, the MILF has engaged
Muslim civil society groups about its vision for a new
autonomous region — and discovered that others have
different ideas. End Summary.

AS ELECTIONS APPROACH, NEGOTIATIONS TO CONTINUE
——————————————— —

¶2. (C) A Philippine official involved in the peace
negotiations with the southern Philippines insurgent group
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) told us that the
government had moderated its hope of signing a comprehensive
peace compact before the end of President Arroyo,s term in
June, but that it would nonetheless make an earnest effort.
Philippine Peace Panel Director Ryan Sullivan said the
Philippine government would exchange drafts of a final peace
agreement with the MILF the week of January 18-22, as urged
by the Malaysian peace facilitator, Datuk Othman. Philippine
Peace Panel Chairman Rafael Seguis was under pressure from
President Arroyo to make more rapid progress, Sullivan said.
Arroyo had ordered Seguis to produce a government draft
before the official start of campaign season in February.
Both President Arroyo’s and Datuk Othman’s exhortations are
now driving the Philippine peace panel to work quickly on a
draft agreement.

GOVERNMENT’S DRAFT AGREEMENT: BASED ON LAW
——————————————

¶3. (C) The Philippine’s version of the draft agreement,
Sullivan said, would draw on the constitution and existing
laws in its formula for granting Mindanao’s Muslims’ more
meaningful autonomy under a new governance structure, but it
likely would not expand the proposed territory beyond the
current boundaries of the Autonomous Region in Muslim
Mindanao (ARMM). According to The Asia Foundation Country
Director Steve Rood in a January 11 conversation, two experts
hired by Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process (OPAPP) issued a detailed recommendation to
government negotiators for grounding the peace agreement in
Philippine law, but Rood suspected their insightful
recommendations may not have been fully incorporated into the
government’s draft. (In 2008, the peace process collapsed
after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order
prohibiting the signing of the 2008 territorial agreement.
Bearing that in mind, U/S Seguis has consistently stressed to
us his concern that any agreement not be susceptible to a
court challenge.)

DRAFT AGREEMENTS TO BE EXCHANGED, REVIEWED
——————————————

¶4. (C) Malaysian peace process facilitator Datuk Othman will
travel to Manila and the MILF’s Camp Darapanan on or after
January 20, multiple sources told us, to receive draft

MANILA 00000073 002 OF 003

agreements from the two peace panels, which he will review,
comment on, and then share with both parties. The Philippine
peace panel is clearing its draft agreement with other
agencies, and may later share the draft agreement with two of
the most prominent critics of the peace process: Zamboanga
City Mayor Celso Lobregat and North Cotabato province Vice
Governor Manny Pinol, both of whom signed the August 2008
petition that secured the Supreme Court’s intervention to
halt the signing of the territorial agreement. The
government hopes that sharing the draft agreement with them
at this stage would demonstrate its commitment to a
transparent peace process and to addressing critics’ concerns
early on, Sullivan explained.

MALAYSIA MAY STEP DOWN AS FACILITATOR
————————————-

¶5. (C) Malaysia may step down as peace talks facilitator,
Sullivan noted, making its tenure coterminous with the end of
President Arroyo,s presidential term in June. Malaysia
could be growing weary of playing the middleman and might not
be interested in working with a new Philippine
administration. Another factor, Sullivan speculated, could
be Othman’s personal desire to leave his position. If the
Malaysians do relinquish their role, Sullivan suggested the
International Contact Group (ICG) could acquire a more
important role in bridging the peace process into the next
Philippine administration. The government would consider
Indonesia and Qatar as possible replacements for Malaysia,
Sullivan said, but did not know MILF preferences.

INTERNATIONAL CONTACT GROUP MOVES CAUTIOUSLY
——————————————–

¶6. (C) According to The Asia Foundation’s Rood, the ICG at
its two meetings thus far has discussed the peace process in
general terms, debating the ICG’s role. The group, and
particularly the Japanese and Turkish delegations, favors a
cautious approach of taking action only when requested by the
negotiating parties. This attitude stands in stark contrast
to the UK’s, which has advocated unsuccessfully for the ICG
to show more independent initiative. ICG discussions, Rood
said, are generally moderated by the most senior diplomat in
the room. Rood also noted that the MILF suggested to him in
December that ICG members attend all formal negotiating
sessions and provide guidance to the parties on those
occasions, although it was unclear to Rood how such guidance
could be furnished in practice.

STAFFING CHALLENGES AT OFFICE OF PEACE ADVISER
——————————————— –

¶7. (C) Staffing changes at OPAPP could potentially affect
OPAPP’s ability to manage the peace process. Former
Congressman and General Santos City Mayor Adelberto Antonino
resigned as a GRP peace panel member in December. Antonino,
closely aligned with Lobregat, has been overtly critical of
the peace process, Sullivan said, and reportedly passed
private OPAPP documents to Lobregat and Pinol. Antonino is
now adviser to OPAPP,s Chief Annabelle Abaya, and press
reports have noted Abaya’s intention to appoint a woman in
his place. OPAPP A/S Camilo “Bong” Montesa is likely to
resign before the election, as will much of the OPAPP senior
staff whose tenures are coterminous with President Arroyo,s.
These changes could leave only the few peace panel members
and OPAPP’s core MILF peace process staff in charge during
the run-up to and aftermath of May 2010 elections.

MILF AND MUSLIM GROUPS: DIFFERENT VISIONS
—————————————–

¶8. (C) As the peace process advances, the MILF has been
conducting outreach to Muslim groups to discuss ideas on
governance and leadership of a new Moro autonomous region.
According to post’s Mindanao-based contacts, MILF discussions
with various Muslim groups in December and January revealed
that Mindanao’s middle class Muslims do not necessarily share
the MILF’s vision for an autonomous region steeped primarily
in Moro culture and tradition. While some of our
Mindanao-based Muslim contacts wish to see an enhanced role

MANILA 00000073 003 OF 003

for Shari’a law in both civil and criminal matters in a new
autonomous region — as the MILF does — they also want to
retain democracy and strong roles for civil society in
government oversight. One Muslim contact, who favors a
democratic but Shari’a-based autonomous region, said Muslim
civil society groups would closely monitor the MILF after a
peace agreement, aware of the potential for corruption and
mismanagement because of the MILF’s lack of governance
experience. Another contact, who represents young Muslim
professionals, expressed concern that the MILF’s vision of a
“Moro homeland” was too exclusive of other kinds of Muslims
and was not sufficiently worldly in its outlook. Some young
Muslims from Mindanao, the contact said, consider their
“Muslim” or “Filipino” identities more central to their
character than their “Moro” identity — an opinion that
staunch MILF supporters were disappointed to hear. On
leadership, a well-connected Maguindanao sourced noted that
the MILF was considering Sultan Kudarat Governor Pax
Mangudadatu, the uncle of Buluan Mayor Ismael Mangudadatu,
whose wife and other family members died in a November 23
massacre (Ref A), for the governorship of a new autonomous
region — a position that the MILF assumed would be appointed
rather than elected.

COMMENT
——-

¶9. (C) With President Arroyo and Datuk Othman now pushing
for a peace agreement within the next five months,
negotiations are expected to move at a faster clip, with a
working draft to be produced by the end of January so the
government can show progress before the official start of the
campaign season on February 9. If, as we are hearing from
contacts, the parties are still far apart in their positions,
or if the MILF does not accept the notion of a peace
agreement grounded in Philippine law, it may prove impossible
to conclude a comprehensive peace agreement during President
Arroyo’s time in office.
KENNEY

   

 

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