Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/12/09MANILA2509.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2509
2009-12-08 05:23
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO0069
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2509/01 3420523
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 080523Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5983
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002509

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/08/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINS RP
SUBJECT: INFORMAL GOVERNMENT-MILF TALKS RESUME DECEMBER 8

REF: A. MANILA 2491 (CHARGES IN MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE)
¶B. MANILA 2429 (SEEKING PEACE AGREEMENT)

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney, reason: 1.4 (b and d).

SUMMARY
——-

¶1. (C) The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF) will continue discussion of measures
to protect noncombatants, the role of the International
Contact Group, and the prospects for formal negotiations when
they meet on December 8 in Kuala Lumpur for informal talks.
Philippine Peace Panel Chair Rafael Seguis told the DCM
November 27 he hopes to conclude a comprehensive compact with
the MILF by March, before upcoming elections make this
politically impossible. Both sides’ negotiators appear eager
for further progress, but focused work and rapid progress
will be needed if they are to conclude a compact; even if
they fall short, however, continuing progress in forming
mechanisms to support the peace process may make it more
likely that productive peace talks will continue under the
next government. End Summary.

PEACE PANEL CHAIR ON UPCOMING TALKS
———————————–

¶2. (C) Representatives of the Philippine government and Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will meet in Kuala Lumpur on
December 8 to continue informal talks facilitated by the
Malaysian government. According to Centre for Humanitarian
Dialogue (HDC) Country Representative David Gorman, whose
organization is a member of the International Contact Group
(ICG) for the peace talks, the top priority for the upcoming
round is to develop greater clarity on the role of the
Civilian Protection Component (CPC) of the International
Monitoring Team (IMT). The two sides also will try to
schedule a round of formal negotiations, Gorman said. The
parties are also likely to discuss contact group modalities.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Rafael
Seguis, who chairs the government’s peace panel, told the DCM
on November 27 that he had delayed the upcoming informal
talks so they would take place after other states’
governments had responded to invitations to join the ICG.
(Turkey, the UK and Japan have agreed to join the ICG; Saudi
Arabia was also invited, but government contacts told us
December 7 the Saudis had not yet responded.)

¶3. (C) Seguis told the DCM he hoped to conclude a
comprehensive compact with the MILF no later than March;
after that time, it would be politically difficult if not
impossible to proceed, as national elections would take place
in May. Seguis noted that the government had little room for
maneuver in its negotiations with the MILF, given a 2008
Supreme Court ruling that had struck down an earlier
comprehensive peace deal. The government might be able to
address MILF demands by delegating some executive branch
authorities to local officials, Seguis said, but it could not
agree to expand the territory of the Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The MILF would argue for such
expansion, Seguis explained — the MILF would claim that
Muslim communities would otherwise feel improperly excluded
— but the government would not be able to make this
concession, which would be unconstitutional.

¶4. (C) Addressing the recent massacre in Maguindanao (ref A),
Seguis said he believed the clash between the Ampatuan and
Mangudadatu clans would have no negative impact on the peace
process; it would simply remain a feud between the two
prominent and politically powerful Muslim families. He noted
that the MILF, which has had an antagonistic relationship
with the Ampatuan clan suspected of carrying out the
massacre, had cooperated in the massacre followup, informing
the GRP where it could find 400 armed supporters of the
Ampatuan family.

¶5. (C) While Seguis acknowledged the success of peace talks
remained uncertain, he did take pride in achievements to
date. “The best thing we’ve done,” he said, “is to stop the
fighting” between rogue MILF elements and the Armed Forces of
the Philippines that flared up when the earlier peace deal
fell through.

MILF ENTHUSIASTIC, MECHANISMS IMPERFECT
—————————————

¶6. (C) Meeting separately with the DCM, Centre for

MANILA 00002509 002 OF 002

Humanitarian Dialogue representative David Gorman
acknowledged the difficulties in reaching agreement on a
compact, but he believed the MILF was eager to strike a deal.
Gorman assessed that — in contrast to insurgent communist
rebels in the Philippines, who seemed to be waiting for the
inauguration of the next administration — the MILF appeared
to prefer dealing with “the devil you know.” Gorman said the
MILF was committed to working with the Arroyo administration
to set down on paper at least the outline of a settlement;
this would make it more likely that the peace process would
continue along similar lines under the next President.

¶7. (C) Gorman assessed there were relatively few people in
Manila’s political class who ardently wanted a peace
agreement. Even civil society figures who might naturally
appear dovish were not eager to move ahead now; some simply
did not trust the Arroyo administration and wanted to deprive
this President of a major success.

¶8. (C) Gorman expressed some apprehension about the ICG’s
ability to play a constructive role. In its current form,
the international contact group was too small to guarantee
the parties would adhere to any agreement they might reach,
and he was not confident that the ICG would be able to
respond appropriately whenever it might first be tested. He
noted there would be no formal chair of the ICG; rather, HDC
would informally coordinate the group’s work. Gorman, who
played a key role in developing the ICG, lamented the contact
group had become “way too formalized” as the concept had
developed. Gorman said he would have favored a less formal
group, but the MILF had insisted on a more clearly defined
structure.

¶9. (C) Gorman also was uncertain about the prospects for the
civilian protection component of the International Monitoring
Team. He questioned how safely foreign NGO officials could
work in Mindanao, given the threat posed by kidnap-for-ransom
groups. He also worried that, as with similar mechanisms in
other countries, residents might turn to the CPC with
unrealistic hopes that it could resolve all problems, even
those well outside of its mandate.

COMMENT
——-

¶10. (C) Despite the setbacks of 2008 and the proximity of
national elections, the government and the MILF have proven
able to make meaningful steps forward in the second half of
¶2009. We would not be surprised if upcoming talks result in
further progress, but it is far from certain that the parties
will be able to conclude a compact under the current
administration.
KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.