Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/03/05MANILA1456.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA1456 2005-03-31 00:07 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 001456

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/PMBS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/31/2015
TAGS: PINS PTER PREL RP PGOV
SUBJECT: GRP GEARS UP FOR MILF TALKS, POSSIBLE DESIGNATION OF MILF ELEMENTS

REF: 04 MANILA 6120

Classified By: Pol/C Scott Bellard, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (C) Summary. The next GRP/MILF talks will take place in
Kuala Lumpur April 16-18. The GRP remains optimistic about a
peace accord “this year,” in part based on a recent friendly
meeting in Maguindanao between the head of the GRP panel and
MILF Chairman Murad that the Malaysians set up. Cooperation
against criminals under an Ad Hoc Joint Action Group is off
to a good start. Designation of certain MILF elements as
terrorists could be useful to the peace process, especially
as Chairman Murad and the MILF leadership may have a reached
a “tipping point” on the road toward peace. The GRP welcomes
upcoming US Institute of Peace seminars on ancestral domain,
and believes Chairman Murad does as well, but would also like
to see USIP focus on MILF capacity building for governance
and the establishment of a full-time on the ground USIP
presence in the Philippines. End Summary.

Setting the stage for talks
—————————

¶2. (C) According to Secretary Silvestre C. Afable, head of
the GRP panel to the GRP-MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front)
peace panel and Malacanang Palace’s Communications Director,
the GRP is ready with a “definite presentation” blessed by
the National Security Council on March 28 for the next round
of “informal talks” with the MILF, which will take place in
Kuala Lumpur April 16-18. He also described his
unprecedented March 18 direct (but informal) talks in
Maguindanao with MILF Chairman Murad and confirmed that Datu
Othman bin Abd Razak of Malaysia’s Office of the Prime
Minister had arranged the meeting and had accompanied him.

¶3. (C) Afable said that he had found Murad in “good
spirits” and “congenial.” After the two sides agreed on the
dates for the talks, Murad explained that he would need
afterward to convene “community gatherings” in Maguindanao to
discuss the results and seek support. Murad asked that the
GRP not impede such movements of people. Afable promised
Murad that the GRP would support such consultations, as long
as these were not movements by armed insurgents.

Guarded optimism
—————-

¶4. (C) Afable said that he no longer believed a peace
accord was possible by June, but still predicted success
“this year.” He claimed that Chairman Murad had also
expressed confidence in the peace process. Afable admitted
that “differences remain” on ancestral domain, and added that
he had not engaged in substantive discussions with Murad on
this during their recent talk. He highlighted welcome
progress in the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) against
criminals and terrorists (reftel), explaining that the GRP
had already shared a wanted list of thirteen Indonesians and
forty Filipinos against whom the GRP planned to act. Under
this agreement, the GRP does not need prior coordination with
the MILF before moving against these wanted individuals. He
said that there had already been two cases of arrests
(kidnappers and carnappers) in which the MILF had actually
assisted the GRP security forces in blocking the flight of
the criminals, enabling their capture. Afable admitted that
he had raised the issue of MILF/Jemaah Islamiyah cooperation
only “peripherally,” with Murad expressing a clear desire to
work through the AHJAG to handle all “troublemakers.”

¶5. (C) Afable speculated that Murad — and the MILF — may
have reached a “threshold” or a “tipping point” that would
permit signing of a peace agreement at long last. He claimed
that this year’s fighting on Jolo Island by the Misuari
Breakaway Group of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)
seems to have heightened the MILF’s awareness that steps
toward peace were essential now in order to prevent a
breakdown into anarchy and infiltration by the Abu Sayyaf
Group and other terrorist elements. He said that Murad had
even expressed a willingness for the MILF eventually to be
involved in a Jolo peace process if the GRP set up a “group
of wise men” composed of community elders and NGO
representatives. Afable advised him that, at this point the
GRP’s preferred solution was still to pursue military action
against the MBG on Jolo.

¶6. (C) Afable claimed that the MILF appeared ready to work
through the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)
government in an eventual peace accord, and that earlier
objections may be dissipating due to “pressure” from local
communities to end the insurgency. He said that the MILF
definitely had not raised the abolishment or alteration of
the ARMM in talks with the GRP. He described GRP thinking of
a new GRP “Special Authority” to handle ancestral domain
issues and subsequent development issues, although he
expressed a belief that existing Philippine legislation on
rights of indigenous peoples would suffice to address MILF
demands for mineral and land rights, local autonomy, etc. He
welcomed what he described as a younger generation of MILF
cadres who were “earnest” and eager to pursue developmental
goals instead of fighting.

Terrorist Designations
———————-

¶7. (C) Pol/C described initial USG thinking — in
coordination with the GRP — about possible formal
designation of elements of the MILF as terrorists, on which
the media had reported following EAP A/S-designate Hill’s
visit to Manila. After reflection, Afable commented that
“maybe the time is ripe” for such a step and that
“designation might be good” for the peace talks. He admitted
that the GRP still did not fully understand internal MILF
dynamics and whether such a step would strengthen or weaken
Murad in the MILF Central Committee. He nonetheless opined
that it could actually help him if the evidence against
individual MILF leaders was sufficiently strong to warrant
terrorist designation. Pol/C promised that the USG would
cooperate with the GRP in developing such a list.

USIP role
———

¶8. (C) Afable welcomed USIP’s planned April seminar on
ancestral domain, and claimed that Murad had also “seemed to
like the idea.” He added, however, that both sides had
already formulated their positions on ancestral domain. He
expressed interest in an expansion of USIP’s mandate to
include capacity building and governance training for the
MILF, similar to USAID-funded programs for ARMM officials
provided by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). He
noted, however, that USIP remained limited in what it could
do here in the absence of a full-time presence on the ground
in the Philippines.
Ricciardone

   

 

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