Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/10/05MANILA5019.html
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA5019
2005-10-25 08:20
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 04 MANILA 005019

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP, INR/TNC, S/CT
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USIP – SOLOMON
NSC FOR H. MORROW

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2015
TAGS: PTER PREL MOPS PINS KISL MY RP
SUBJECT: GRP-MILF PEACE PROCESS ON TRACK BUT POTENTIAL
OBSTACLES REMAIN

REF: MANILA 4662

Classified By: Acting Political Counselor Joseph L. Novak for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: GRP and Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF) negotiators made a breakthrough on ancestral domain
during their 9th Exploratory Talks in Kuala Lumpur, September
15-16. Though both sides agreed to keep details of the talks
confidential, a leak to the Philippine press disclosed an

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agreement in principle for the creation of a “Bangsamoro”
juridical entity — separate from the existing ARMM — that
would draft its own charter, levy taxes, and form legal and
financial institutions for an expanded Muslim area in
Mindanao. This press leak has, among other matters:
increased concerns about the future viability of the ARMM and
raised hackles among members of the Moro National Liberation
Front (MNLF). The news re the talks is positive, but
obstacles remain. End Summary.

Breakthrough On Ancestral Domain
——————————–

¶2. (C) Following the 9th Exploratory Talks between the GRP
and MILF in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on September 15-16,
Adviser to the MILF Peace Panel Michael Mastura and Office of
the Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Peace
Panel Secretariat member Ryan Sullivan confirmed to poloff
that there was a breakthrough on ancestral domain. Both
sides held details of the negotiations close to their vests,
however, because “sensitive issues” were said to remain on
the agenda for the next round of peace talks scheduled for
late 2005.

¶3. (C) The confidentiality was short-lived when the
Philippine press disclosed in mid-October that the two sides
had agreed in principle on the need to create a “Bangsamoro”
juridical entity that would draft a charter, levy taxes, and
form legal and financial institutions for the development of
the five provinces (Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan,
Sulu, Tawi-Tawi) that now make up the ARMM as well as other
areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, North
Cotabato, and Sarangani Provinces in Mindanao. (Note:
Bangsamoro is a term that is used to refer to the Muslim
Filipino people. ARMM stands for the Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao. End Note.) After expressing his irritation
over this leak to Poloff on October 18, Legal Adviser to the
MILF Peace Panel Musib Buat confirmed its content in general
terms and noted that the drafting of a new charter by a
Bangsamoro government represented “real autonomy.”

MNLF Out in the Cold?
———————

¶4. (C) MNLF Foreign Affairs Minister and former ARMM
Governor Parouk Hussin reportedly stated on October 22 that
the Arroyo Administration had insulted and effectively dumped
the MNLF by agreeing to create a Bangsamoro juridical entity.
Hussin was also quoted as saying that the agreement with the
MILF was also an insult to the Organization of Islamic
Conference (OIC) which brokered the 1996 GRP-MNLF Peace
Agreement. Combined with the MNLF’s loss of the recent ARMM
gubernatorial race, this development has added to perceptions
by MNLF officials that they are being left out in the cold.
(Note: The OIC continues to recognize the MNLF as the
legitimate representative of the Bangsamoro people. As of
late October, OIC member Saudi Arabia pledged USD 50 million
for development and socio-economic projects in the ARMM which
the MNLF sees as the only appropriate Muslim entity in the
Philippines. Saudi Ambassador to the Philippines Ameen Wali
has offered to facilitate a meeting between ARMM Governor
Zaldy Ampatuan and officials of the Islamic Development Bank,
Saudi Development Bank, and Muslim World League to discuss
future development projects. End Note.)

¶5. (C) While acknowledging that a Bangsamoro juridical
entity could supplant the ARMM, MILF Advisor Buat described
the MILF as the “true representative” of the Bangsamoro
people unlike the MNLF which only focused on
“self-enrichment.” Speaking in reference to the bitter
criticism and complaints voiced by Parouk Hussin and other
high ranking members of the MNLF since the August 8 election
of Ampatuan as ARMM Governor, Buat called the MNLF “cry
babies” and noted that “they had their chance and squandered
it.” According to Buat, Ampatuan — whose family has not
been on the best of terms with members of the MILF —
promised Malacanang that he would not be an obstacle to peace
in Mindanao.

Opposition Criticizes Preliminary Agreement
——————————————-

¶6. (SBU) Former Senator Francisco Tatad — the alleged
source of the “Gloriagate tapes” that helped trigger
impeachment hearings against President Arroyo — used the
leak in the press regarding a Bangsamoro juridical entity to
attack the Arroyo Government for “partitioning” the
Philippines without the knowledge of the Filipino people.
Other political and former military figures expressing
opposition to the theoretical creation of this new entity
included Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat, House Deputy
Minority leader Rolex Suplico, and former Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Fortunato Abat. Executive
Secretary Eduardo Ermita has responded to these critics by

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noting that a federal state in Muslim Mindanao could only be
established by shifting to a parliamentary-federal system of
government through an amendment to the 1987 Constitution.
(Note: Amid much discussion of the issue of possible change
in the House and Senate, a Consultative Constitutional
Commission that recently was created by an Executive Order
from Arroyo has been conducting nationwide consultations on
proposed changes to the Constitution — see Reftel. End
Note.)

Words of Praise
—————

¶7. (U) In an apparent follow-up to the September 16 Joint
Statement (see Para 12 for full text) by the GRP and MILF
Peace Panels in Kuala Lumpur that cited “President
Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo’s firm commitment to lasting and
durable peace,” the MILF leadership recently expressed more
words of rare praise for Arroyo through its website —
“Luwuran.” On October 19, MILF Vice-Chairman for Military
Affairs Aleem Abdul Mimbantas “extolled Malaysian Prime
Minister His Excellency Muhammad Ahmad Badawi and Her
Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for their
sincere efforts for the success of the ongoing peace
process.”

Continued Optimism and a Plea for Help
————————————–

¶8. (C) During a “confidential” briefing to foreign diplomats
on October 26, GRP Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto G.
Romulo and GRP Peace Panel Chairman Silvestre C. Afable
expressed optimism that an accord on ancestral domain could
be reached by December 2005 and a comprehensive peace
agreement by mid-2006. While he said popular support for the
peace process has increased, Afable remarked that “certain
quarters” wanted to undermine the negotiations by raising
controversial issues to the public through the media.

¶9. (C) In responding to concerns that the MNLF was being
left out in the cold, Afable said that the OIC-GRP-MNLF
Tri-partite Commission would be reactivated, but that support
is needed from the OIC and the international community to
build bridges between the MNLF and MILF, and encourage
consolidation of a fragmented MNLF leadership.

Comment
——-

¶10. (C) The GRP and MILF appear committed to continuing
negotiations regarding ancestral domain and governance.
Though some details from the last round of talks in Kuala
Lumpur were disclosed by the press as well as Afable during
his October 26 briefing, it remains unclear how close both
sides may actually be to resolving contentious issues which
include territorial jurisdiction and control over natural
resources. The recent extension through October 2006 of the
Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) and efforts
of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) to apprehend
suspected criminals and terrorists bode well for the peace
process, but many potential obstacles (terrorism,
clan/organizational rivalries, and domestic politics) remain
along the way to a final GRP-MILF peace agreement.

¶11. (C) For example, news of MNLF concerns is a potential
road block to future progress between the GRP and the MILF.
The MNLF, an organization about three times the size of the
MILF, has been at peace with the GRP since 1996 (though
violence has flared up at times between breakaway MNLF
factions and the GRP). The USG has worked and continues to
work in partnership with the MNLF, GRP, and ARMM officials in
carrying out development programs (“Arms to Farms” and
others) that have helped to consolidate the GRP-MNLF peace.
The GRP can ill-afford a deterioration of its relationship
with the MNLF. End Comment.

Joint Statement of GRP and MILF Peace Panels
——————————————–

¶12. (U) The complete text of the September 16 Joint Statement
by the Chairmen of the GRP and MILF Peace Panels follows:

Begin:

The 9th Exploratory Talks between the Government of the
Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF) ended today with the Parties
successfully concluding the most difficult hurdle on the
ancestral domain agenda.

The Technical Working Groups (TWGs) on Governance together
with the GRP and MILF Peace Panels met in Kuala Lumpur from
15-16 September 2005 to continue negotiations under the
ancestral domain agenda. The meeting was conducted in a
cordial atmosphere despite the complexity of the subject.
The TWGs in consultation with their respective Peace Panels
succeeded in resolving the unfinished contentious issues from
the last meeting in Port Dickson. Both sides adopted the
consensus points on the strand of governance.

With this breakthrough, the peace process is on track to
complete the ancestral domain agenda before the end of the
year. The addition of the ancestral domain accord to the
previous agreements already signed on Security (2001) and
Rehabilitation and Development (2002) completes the
requirement of the Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001.

The Malaysian Secretariat acknowledges the high level of
trust and confidence between the Panels and their respective
TWGs for their vital role in ensuring the successful conduct
of the discussions on the ancestral domain aspect.

Simultaneously the peace panels also met to discuss and
address several issues of concern to both parties.

The Parties recognize the efforts of the Ad Hoc Joint Action
Group (AHJAG) relative to the ongoing operations against
criminal groups in Maguindanao to wind up before the end of
the month, and stress on the need for closer coordination to
avoid the undue and prolonged displacement of local
communities in affected areas. In this light, joint efforts
to extend appropriate relief and livelihood assistance to
affected communities will be undertaken.

The Parties will work towards strengthening the
socio-economic monitoring function of the International
Monitoring Team (IMT). Towards this end, other countries will
be invited to participate in the monitoring process. Both
parties thank Malaysia, Libya, and Brunei for extending the
IMT tour of duty in Mindanao.

The Parties express their gratitude to H.E. Prime Minister
Dato Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi for the Malaysian
Government’s continued support to the GRP-MILF peace process.
The Parties likewise acknowledge H.E. President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo’s firm commitment to lasting and durable
peace.

Done this 16th of September 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

For the GRP: Sec Silvestre C. Afable, Jr., Chairman, GRP
Peace Panel

For the MILF: Mohagher Iqbal, Chairman, MILF Peace Panel

End.

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