Oct 222014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA3709 2005-08-11 07:14 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 003709



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/11/2015



Classified By: (U) Political Officer Paul O’Friel
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. In an effort to rally international
backing, senior officials briefed representatives of the
Manila diplomatic corps on the GRP’s decision to suspend the
Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG),
which provided Communist peace negotiators immunity from
arrest and criminal proceedings. The Chair of the GRP’s
Peace Negotiations Panel, Prof. Nieves Confessor, emphasized
the National Democratic Front (the legal negotiating arm of
the banned Communist Party of the Philippines/New Peoples
Army — CPP/NPA) had to “stop dribbling” and demonstrate its
commitment to peace for talks to resume. In the interim, the
GRP intends to pursue local peace initiatives, while keeping
Norwegian government mediation channels open. We doubt
suspension of the JASIG will entice the NDF/CPP/NPA back to
the negotiating table in the immediate future, but the GRP
now has a potentially potent weapon to use against
Netherlands-based CPP leader Jose Marie Sison, who is facing
multiple charges in the Philippines. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (U) On August 9, a panel composed of Secretary of Foreign
Affairs Romulo, Presidential Peace Process Advisor Secretary
Rene Sarmiento, GRP Peace Negotiating Panel with the NDF
Chairwoman Prof. Nieves Confessor, and Human Rights
Commissioner Purificacion Quisumbing briefed diplomatic corps
representatives on the GRP’s August 2 decision to revoke
immunity and safe conduct privileges for 97 Communist
negotiators (ref A). In his opening statement, Secretary
Romulo stressed his government’s commitment to finding a
solution to the 35-year old conflict, and said the GRP would
continue to respect the 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on
Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law


¶3. (SBU) In a subsequent detailed presentation, which was
closed to the press, Confessor emphasized the continuity of
GRP negotiation efforts that had spanned twelve years and
three presidencies since the start of preliminary talks in
the Hague in 1992. Formal negotiations had been interrupted
13 times during that period, with the latest being the NDF’s
decision to suspend talks in August 2004 on the pretext of
the US redesignation of the CPP and NPA as Foreign Terrorist
Organizations. Recent statements (ref B) by NDF Panel Chair
Luis Jalandoni — “There is no sense…of talking with this
crumbling administration” — CPP/NPA Spokesman Roger “Ka”
Roger — “We have ended the talks” –, and NDF Chief
Political Consultant (and CPP head) Jose Maria Sison — “It
is now time for armed revolution” — had convinced the GRP
that the situation was at an impasse. “Putting it mildly,
there is no interest or reason to extend (JASIG) privileges,”
Confessor stated. She hoped the suspension of the JASIG,
which would take effect on September 3, 2005, would convince
the NDF to resume talks.

¶4. (SBU) However, Confessor was adamant on the need for the
NDF/CPP/NPA to undertake visible and credible steps that
would demonstrate a genuine commitment to peace. “It’s time
to stop dribbling the ball; we want to see outputs on the
table,” she said. Confessor noted President Arroyo’s
decision to pursue charter change offered the NDF a real
opportunity to engage in a debate on constitutional reform.
“I hope they don’t miss it,” she stated. Confessor said in
the interim, the GRP would pursue local peace initiatives,
including accelerating reforms,
to address the insurgency on the ground, while keeping
Norwegian government mediation channels open.

¶5. (C) Both Confessor and Sarmiento noted Utrecht-based Jose
Maria Sison, with his assets frozen and his social welfare
benefits cut off, was feeling the pinch of US and EU
sanctions. Speaking separately to poloff after the end of
the briefing, Confessor said Sison had in recent contacts
with GRP peace process officials again made lifting the
terrorist designation a quid pro quo to resuming talks.
However, Confessor firmly asserted the GRP, while ready to
restart negotiations, wanted clear, quantifiable proof the
NDF/CPP/NPA was serious about peace.
¶6. (C) In a conversation later the same day, Commodore Tirso
Danga, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief
of Staff for Intelligence (J2), told poloff the NDF and other
Communist front organizations are actively involved in
efforts to destabilize President Arroyo. In Danga’s view,
Sison had overplayed his hand in anticipating the Arroyo
government would be replaced by a Council of 15. Under the
JASIG, the AFP had “taken it easy” on the CPP/NPA, he
commented, without revealing what steps the AFP might take
once the suspension of the JASIG went into effect (ref A).


¶7. (C) While we doubt suspension of the JASIG will bring the
Communists back to the negotiating table before September 3,
the decision to suspend the JASIG immunities gives the GRP a
potentially potent weapon to use against the NDF/CPP/NPA
leadership. Confessor indicated she hoped to confer with US
and EU partners about potential next steps. One possible
move might be to seek Sison’s extradition from the
Netherlands; although the GRP would have to provide
assurances to the Dutch that he would not face the death
penalty on his return to the Philippines.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm



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