Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/03/07MANILA782.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA782 2007-03-09 08:27 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO0615
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0782 0680827
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 090827Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5610
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L MANILA 000782

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/10/2017
TAGS: PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: LAND DISPUTE TRIGGERS MILF-GRP ARMED CLASHES

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

¶1. (C) Summary: The International Monitoring Team, GRP-MILF
Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities, and
the NGO Bantay Ceasefire played key roles in restoring order
following March 5-6 armed skirmishes in North Cotabato
between elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the
Armed Forces of the Philippines. The key dispute is not
ideological or organizational but rather rooted in competing
claims over a 2,000 hectare tract of land. Tensions remain
high, however, and further outbreaks of violence are likely,
but the existence of these mechanisms helps to keep the
broader peace process on track. End Summary.

Some bad news…
—————-

¶2. (C) According to Executive Director of the GRP Peace
Negotiations Panel Ryan Sullivan, armed skirmishes during the
week of March 5 between the elements of the MILF and AFP in
Midsayap, North Cotabato left as many as 19 MILF and 1 AFP
soldiers dead, two AFP soldiers wounded, and over 3,000
persons displaced. He emphasized, however, that the dispute
was not ideological or organizational but rather stemmed from
an ongoing dispute over 2,000 hectares of land straddling
three Muslim-dominated townships (“barangays”). According to
Sullivan, at least 20 Christians and Muslims have asserted
ownership of this land, including MILF member Minda Lanson
and Midsayap Mayor Romeo Arana.

¶3. (C) Sullivan explained further that the tensions dated
back at least to January, when some of the Christian
claimants, including Midsayap Mayor Arana, used members of
Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs) as security guards to
harvest crops on the land in dispute. Following an armed
encounter between the CVOs and suspected members of the MILF,
Mayor Arana requested assistance from the AFP, and the
fighting intensified. According to local officials and
sources at the NGO “Bantay Ceasefire,” during January 25-27
skirmishes — which involved air and ground attacks by the
AFP against members of the MILF 106th, 105th, and 101st Base
Commands — killed one CVO and two AFP soldiers, and wounded
two civilians, as well as resulted in the displacement of an
estimated 1,235 families (or some 6,000 persons).

…with some encouraging news
—————————–

¶4. (C) Representatives from the CCCH and IMT were able
quickly and effectively to mediate an end to each outbreak of
armed conflict in Midsayap. However, Sullivan highlighted
the need for better GRP interagency coordination, noting that
just prior to the latest flare up between the AFP and MILF,
the AFP had repositioned troops into the buffer zone —
ostensibly to conduct a tactical operation targeted against
wanted terrorist, Abdul Basit Usman — without notifying the
CCCH. Sullivan claimed that local AFP commanders had ignored
some of the IMT’s recommendations to stabilize the situation
until they received explicit instructions from Manila to
accept.

¶5. (C) Comment: Conflicts over land/natural resources
remain an integral part of the political and socio-economic
landscape of Mindanao, and tensions will continue to peak and
ebb. The continued presence of the IMT, CCCH, and Bantay
Ceasefire in the region has gone a long way toward minimizing
the escalation of these localized disputes into major
conflicts that could derail the GRP-MILF peace process,
demonstrating again the viability of — and need for — these
mechanisms, with support from local residents.

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/

KENNEY

   

 

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