Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/04/08MANILA912.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA912
2008-04-16 08:31
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO8583
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0912/01 1070831
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 160831Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0390
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 000912

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/15/2018
TAGS: PREL PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: KEY PEACE DOCUMENT UNDER LEGAL REVIEW

REF: A. MANILA 885 (LAYING GROUNDWORK FOR SUCCESSFUL

MERCY DEPLOYMENT)
¶B. MANILA 836 (AMBASSADOR ENGAGES FOREIGN SECRETARY
ON PEACE PROCESS)
¶C. MANILA 518 (GUARDED PROGRESS FOR MINDANAO PEACE
PROCESS)
¶D. MANILA 455 (AMBASSADOR URGES MILF CHIEF TO
EMBRACE PEACE)
¶E. MANILA 454 (PRESIDENT ARROYO COMMITTED TO PEACE
PROCESS)
¶F. MANILA 238 (PRESIDENT ARROYO REVISES MILF PEACE
PROPOSAL)

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: Peace talks between the Philippine
government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front insurgents are
expected to resume after government legal experts finish
reviewing a key draft agreement. The legal review is
currently focused on contentious issues related to
governance, political status, and control of natural
resources, and a legal decision is expected mid-May. The
unexpectedly long legal review reflects the complexity of the
issues and the politics around them. The insurgents are
anxious, but not yet alarmed at the delay, though the
Malaysians continue to threaten to withdraw their ceasefire
monitors. Negotiations continue, however, and in preparation
for the legislative action and plebiscite needed to create a
new Muslim political entity, the government is planning a
two-tier advocacy and public relations campaign targeting
grassroots communities and political figures at the local and
national levels. End Summary.

——————————————
Legal Review Continues; Growing Impatience
——————————————

¶2. (C) Philippine government legal experts are reviewing key
provisions of a draft territorial agreement with the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Consequently, no date has
been set for the resumption of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur.
“We really do not have a clear timetable as long as legal
deliberations continue over proposed text,” commented
government peace panel secretariat director Ryan Sullivan.

¶3. (C) Meanwhile, Malaysian peace negotiation facilitators
have grown increasingly impatient with the standstill in the
peace talks, and raised with the Office of the Presidential
Advisor on the Peace Process (OPAPP) the possibility of
withdrawing the International Monitoring Team from Mindanao.
With Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi facing mounting
pressure to resign in the wake of the March 8 national
elections, it remains unclear exactly how Malaysian politics
will ultimately affect the MILF peace process, noted Sullivan.

————————————-
Legal Recommendation Expected Mid-May
————————————-

¶4. (C) In a discussion with DCM April 15, Government Peace
Panel Chairman Rudy Garcia confirmed that President Arroyo
had assigned a former cabinet member who is considered a
constitutional expert to review the territorial agreement and
ensure that all provisions adhere to the Constitution. The
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process will
brief the constitutional expert on the status of the review
this week, and a legal recommendation is expected by mid-May,
according to Garcia. Garcia also noted that there are
conservative forces within the Cabinet who are wary of the
agreement in its present form.

————————-
Three Issues for Starters
————————-

¶5. (C) Sullivan said the legal review of the Philippine
government’s draft territorial agreement is currently focused
on issues related to governance, political status, and
natural resources. According to Sullivan, the Philippine
cabinet and MILF view these issues very differently, and
bridging the divide will be a challenge. On the key issue of
governance, Sullivan explained that the MILF wants the
territorial agreement to contain a list of specific examples
of administrative, judicial, educational, economic, and
financial government institutions to be established within a
new Muslim political entity. In sharp contrast, Sullivan
said the Philippine cabinet wants language of a very general
nature in the text of the agreement, skirting any specific
references to prospective government institutions. Regarding

MANILA 00000912 002 OF 003

political status, Sullivan said cabinet members do not want
the term “freedom” for the Bangsamoro people included in the
text of a territorial agreement, since it could be
interpreted to mean independence. But since the term
“freedom” is already specified in a June 22, 2001, agreement
between the government and MILF, deleting this term is not
acceptable to MILF peace negotiators, noted Sullivan.

¶6. (C) Sullivan said that the MILF appears determined to
have a firm hand in the exploitation and development of
strategic resources, such as petroleum and natural gas.
Since both parties have different concepts of the meaning of
“ownership,” this term was excluded from the draft
territorial agreement. In place of “ownership,” the MILF
wants to use the phrase “jurisdiction and control,” while the
cabinet wants to limit the language in the text to the word
“control.” The phrase “jurisdiction and control” implies
greater authority and a recognized right to control strategic
resources within the territorial boundaries of a new Muslim
political entity, explained Sullivan. By limiting the
language to the term “control,” Sullivan said the government
would grant authority to the new Muslim political entity to
develop and exploit strategic resources, though such
authority could be taken away under certain circumstances,
such as a national emergency. The MILF is apparently
concerned that the government could use a calamity or other
event as a pretext to take over strategic resources
indefinitely, according to Sullivan.

—————–
Political Hurdles
—————–

¶7. (C) Sullivan expressed concern that “certain cabinet
members” may raise additional issues after legal experts
complete their review of governance, political status, and
natural resources. Such a development could lead to another
legal review, delaying agreement on this document still
further, Sullivan lamented.

¶8. (C) Separately, Philippine government peace panel legal
consultant Jose Lorena said that the inclusion of an expanded
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in a new Muslim
political entity requires legislation to amend Republic Act
No. 9054, the organizing statute of the ARMM, by both the
House of Representatives and the Senate, followed by a
plebiscite. Though President Arroyo could probably push
through a simple majority vote in the House, Lorena said
opposition figures in the Senate, including several who plan
to run for president in the 2010 national elections, may
block passage of such an amendment.

————————————–
Advocacy and Public Relations Campaign
————————————–

¶9. (C) Sullivan said OPAPP is planning a two-tier advocacy
and public relations campaign to prepare for the
Congressional action/plebiscite required after a territorial
agreement is signed. As a first step, 600 volunteers from
the Mindanao Peace Weavers and other civil society groups
will open a dialogue with communities targeted for inclusion
in a new Muslim political entity. The objective of this
dialogue is not to convert the general populace to accept the
territorial agreement, but rather to open a venue through
which views and concerns about such an agreement can be
articulated, according to Sullivan.

¶10. (C) Sullivan said the focus of the second step — a
public relations campaign — would depend on the views and
concerns elicited during the community dialogue. Briefings
on the MILF peace process and territorial agreement to key
groups and individuals, including Representatives and
Senators, will be part of this “soft” and “creative” public
relations campaign, commented Sullivan.

————————————
Keeping Negotiations on Front Burner
————————————

¶11. (C) To ensure that the parties stay focused and push the
process forward, Mission officials continue to engage the
parties at the most senior levels. The Ambassador recently
raised the issue in separate meetings with Foreign Secretary
Alberto Romulo and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief
General Hermogenes Esperon, making clear that the U.S.
strongly supports a peace agreement that will help bring
prosperity to Mindanao and remove safe haven for terrorists
(ref B). Similarly, during an April 9 trip to Cotabato (ref
A), the DCM raised with MILF Vice-Chairman Ghazali Jaafar and

MANILA 00000912 003 OF 003

newly-elected MNLF Chair Muslimin Sema the importance of
progress toward a comprehensive agreement.

——-
Comment
——-

¶12. (C) The slow, sometimes halting negotiation process
reflects the complexity of the issues with which the parties
are grappling, as well as the complex politics surrounding
them. Our contacts continue to report that government and
MILF negotiators are working diligently to craft a
territorial agreement that not only meets with Cabinet and
MILF approval, but passes constitutional muster. We continue
to press both sides to come to agreement soon on the
significant set of governance, territory, and natural
resource issues currently under negotiation. Such an
agreement would be a significant milestone and open the field
for advocacy and increased attention to security issues in
the next stage of negotiations.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET 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/

JONES

   

 

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