Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/01/05MANILA281.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA281
2005-01-19 08:57
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000281

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/PMBS,INR/EAP, USIP – SOLOMON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/19/2015
TAGS: PINS PTER PREL MOPS MY RP
SUBJECT: GRP AND MILF EXPECT TALKS SOON, WILL COOPERATE ON CRIMINAL INTERDICTION

REF: A. MANILA 142
¶B. 03 MANILA 6020

Classified By: Political Officer Joseph Saus
for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

Summary
——-

¶1. (C) GRP and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) sources
confirmed both sides are ready for another round of talks
tentatively slated for the first week of February. The sides
are prepared to discuss the nettlesome ancestral domain
issue. The cease-fire remains strong despite the January 9
clash that left almost 20 dead on both sides. The GRP plans
to pursue criminally the MILF commander responsible, whose
activities the MILF leadership did not sanction. Both GRP
and MILF officials note the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group
(AHJAG), currently in its formative stages, could be used in
the future to avert similar incidents by arresting commanders
who operate outside MILF command and control. The GRP
intends to coordinate a list with the MILF of high priority
targets that may include terrorists and criminals. In “hot
pursuit” of such targets, the GRP is not obligated to give
prior notice to MILF counterparts. End Summary.

More Progress Reported
———————-

¶2. (SBU) At a January 19 briefing to the Manila Diplomatic
Corps held at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Secretary
Silvestre Afable, Chief GRP Negotiator with the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF), said both the GRP and MILF expect to
hold another round of exploratory talks the first week of
February. Both sides have formulated their respective
positions on identifying historic Muslim territory, known as
ancestral domain, although Afable was reluctant to elaborate
in a public setting.

¶3. (SBU) Afable provided a very positive assessment of the
Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the
joint GRP-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of
Hostilities (CCCH) — both charged with cease-fire
monitoring. Afable also highlighted the role of Joint
Monitoring Teams — with representatives from the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP), MILF combatants, and a local
cease-fire monitoring NGO called “Bantay Ceasefire”
(Ceasefire Guard) — as crucial in some of the more
conflict-affected areas. The CCCH also has small “Local
Monitoring Teams” (LMTs) (with representatives from the GRP,
MILF, NGOs, and the religious sectors) in 13 provinces
throughout Mindanao. The LMTs monitor the day-to-day status
of the cease-fire at the community level.

Cease-Fire Lauded
—————–

¶4. (SBU) Afable noted a dramatic decline in armed skirmishes
since the AFP,s Buliok offensive in February 2003 and the
reactivation of the CCCH the following July. He said from
January to July 2003, the Office of the Presidential Adviser
on the Peace Process (OPAPP) recorded 528 skirmishes. Only
31 incidents were reported until December 2003. In all of
2004, OPAPP recorded 71 incidents.

Cooperation Results From Isolated Skirmish
——————————————

¶5. (SBU) Afable characterized the recent clashes in
Maguindanao as “isolated incidents.” At the DFA briefing,
poloff received a document detailing the January 9 clashes.
The report said as many as 300 armed MILF elements under
Commander Ustadz Abdul Wahid Tundok attacked a nine-man AFP
detachment. After a day of fighting, the AFP retook the
detachment. Six soldiers were killed with one soldier
exhibiting evidence of torture. Thirteen MILF fighters were
killed, according to the report.

¶6. (SBU) During an earlier January 13 press conference after
a CCCH meeting on the incident, Brigadier General Alexander
Yano, Chief of the GRP delegation to the CCCH, said the GRP
will pursue Wahid and fellow commander Abdurakman Bides
Binago as common criminals. The outgoing MILF representative
to the CCCH, Benjie Midtimbang (to be replaced by Von
al-Haq), was less direct. Reading from an official memo from
the Chief of Staff of MILF forces, he said the MILF
leadership “does not sanction the (January 9) engagement of
Commander Wahid.” He also reiterated MILF support for the
cease-fire and for all MILF commanders to report to MILF
military headquarters.
¶7. (C) On January 18, MILF technical advisor, Attorney Musib
Buat said the skirmish resulted from a “personal grudge”
between Binago and “a group that attacked his brother” (ref
A). He added the MILF continues to investigate the incident
and the commander in question. He also said the 72-hour
deadline placed by the AFP for Wahid to surrender would not
allow the MILF to complete its investigation.

¶8. (SBU) At the DFA briefing Afable told poloff that the
long awaited Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) could be used
in searching for and eventually arresting maverick commanders
such as Wahid. In the future, the GRP and the MILF will
coordinate on a list of “high priority targets.” He stressed
that Wahid would be held responsible for the soldiers’ deaths
and would be included on the list. Notably, Afable said that
in cases of high priority targets, the AFP and PNP do not
need to give prior notice to the MILF in “hot pursuit”
operations.

¶9. (C) Comment: The AHJAG finally has momentum behind it —
the most to date since it was conceptualized in an August
2002 GRP-MILF joint communiqu. Nonetheless the AHJAG is
still being formulated and is not yet operational. The fact
that a coordinated list of wanted “criminals” (to include
terrorists such as the Jemmah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf Group)
will circulate among the AFP, PNP, and MILF leadership is
welcome news. The MILF appears to be working with the GRP on
this score, but remains careful not to appear excessively
accommodating to the GRP side — likely to sustain the
loyalty of its rank-and-file who view Manila with suspicion.
We will track and encourage the formation of the AHJAG as a
vital tool in clearing criminals and terrorists from MILF
ranks. End Comment.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified 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/
Ricciardone

   

 

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