Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/12/07MANILA3852.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA3852
2007-12-06 07:52
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO5028
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3852/01 3400752
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 060752Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9099
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 02 MANILA 003852

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/22/2017
TAGS: PREL PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: METHODICAL PROGRESS IN MINDANAO PEACE TALKS

REF: A. MANILA 3728 (MINDANAO PEACE PROCESS MOVES FORWARD)

¶B. MANILA 3676 (INSURGENT CHAIRMAN
¶C. MALAYSIAN FACILITATOR WELCOME USG SUPPORT)
¶D. MANILA 3392 (NTIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR VIEWS WAY
FORWAR)
¶E. MANILA 3193 (MUSLIM INSURGENTS MULL TERITORIAL
OFFER)

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

¶1. (C) Summary: The government continues to ake important
progress in peace talks with Muslis on Mindanao, according
to government officialsclose to the twin negotiation tracks.
In recentdiscussions with the DCM, chief government
negotiator Rodolfo Garcia expressed strong optimism that he
government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Frnt (MILF) would
sign a formal deal in January onterritory and
resource-sharing for an enlarged Mslim political entity in
Mindanao, and triggeringmore serious negotiations on
difficult governanc and security issues. Separately, his
predecessr, Silvestre Afable, echoed these views, and
sugested that progress in oft-delayed peace implementation
talks with the other main Muslim group, the Moro National
Liberation Front (MNLF), was also evident. Both officials
noted the importance of intensified government and
international efforts to ramp up support for the two
agreements among local politicians, the business community
and the broader populace in Mindanao. End summary.

Territorial Deal Likely In January
———————————-

¶2. (C) In a November 23 meeting with the DCM and PolCouns,
the government’s chief peace negotiator Rodolfo Garcia said
that he and his counterparts from the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) had come to terms on all key territorial and
resource-sharing issues at their informal talks in Kuala
Lumpur November 14-15. He expressed pleasant surprise that
agreement had been reached so quickly, and said that he
expected to hammer out a formal text detailing the agreement
at the next round of discussions, now slated for December
14-15. A signing ceremony on the new territories to be
included in an enlarged Muslim political entity (reftel A)
could take place in early January, Garcia said.

Broader Peace Deal By Summer?
—————————–

¶3. (C) Garcia acknowledged that the more difficult issues of
governance and security still lay ahead of the negotiators.
He stressed that these were “sensitive” topics and that the
two sides had consciously put them off to the side while
working on the territorial and resource concerns. While
appearing confident that the two sides would eventually reach
agreement on these key points — and perhaps even before
summer — Garcia acknowledged he did not have a clear vision
of where the two sides would end up. While some on the
government side were clearly thinking of demobilization and
disarmament of the MILF insurgents, some on the Muslim side
were positing a transformation of the insurgent forces into a
regional police or security for the new Muslim political
entity envisioned in the territorial agreement. The
give-and-take of negotiation would likely produce a
compromise that both sides could live with.

¶4. (C) The Muslim insurgents faced issues of both pride and
politics in dealing with security and governance, Garcia
suggested, with the MILF leery of being accused of
“surrender” by its constituency if it discussed issues of
control too early in the talks. Timing was key, and Garcia
made it clear he was willing to meet the MILF’s needs by
taking a step-by-step approach to the talks, working up to
the most difficult topics while building trust and confidence
through resolution of less contentious issues. Similarly,
the sensitivity of these issues also meant releasing
information to the public on the peace process through a
step-by-step approach, so all the various groups would get
acclimated, Garcia explained. He contended that NGOs and
local populations would energetically support a negotiated
agreement, but noted that the government’s outreach efforts –
particularly to business – needed to ramp up considerably.

Sophisticated Marketing Vital For Peace Pact
——————————————–

¶5. (C) Equally sensitive was the issue of carrying out a
plebiscite on the final agreement, Garcia stressed. Contrary
to some of its public statements, according to Garcia, the
MILF quietly acknowledged the need to hold a plebiscite

MANILA 00003852 002 OF 002

despite the failure of a similar poll seeking approval of the
1996 final peace accord with the other major Muslim
insurgency, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Still, this was a problematic requirement for the MILF, and
the negotiators would have to approach it very cautiously.
One mitigating factor was that a vote would only be required
in the new territories to be added to the existing Muslim
political entity, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao
(ARMM). Both sides would need to undertake a sophisticated
marketing effort in order to succeed, not casting the vote as
a win-or-lose situation and enlisting the aid of interested
foreign governments, international organizations, NGOs and
religious groups. The Philippine government also had
political and economic benefits it could “dangle” in front of
regional and local politicians to gain their support.

International Monitoring Team Expanded “In Principle”
——————————————— ——–

¶6. (C) One other outcome of the most recent Kuala Lumpur
talks was an agreement to expand the scope of the
international monitoring team (IMT), which monitors the
MILF-government ceasefire, to the islands of the Sulu
archipelago, Garcia confirmed, so that “another Basilan does
not take place,” referring to the July incident in which 10
Marines were killed and beheaded on the island. But the
chief negotiator played down the significance of expanding
the monitoring effort to Basilan, Jolo, Tawi-tawi and
Palawan, where the MILF has few members, saying that in all
likelihood the international monitors would continue to
concentrate their efforts on central Mindanao, where the
chance for conflict was higher. The MILF presence on Jolo,
Tawi-tawi and Palawan was relatively small, according to
Garcia, and thus IMT activity there was unlikely.

Second Opinion: Talks Proceeding Well
————————————-

¶7. (C) In a separate meeting November 27, former negotiator
Silvestre “Yong” Afable told DCM he believes government-MILF
negotiations are proceeding well. He noted that current
government negotiator Garcia played his cards close, and thus
avoided needlessly stirring up cabinet members, which Afable
laughingly said he sometimes had done. He believed the
cabinet could successfully sell a peace plan to local
leaders, once so directed by the President. Even the leading
Muslim clan opposing the MILF – the Ampatuans – recognize
that the politics of Mindanao are tilting toward peace, and
that they will continue to lose political support if they do
not adapt, Afable contended.

¶8. (C) Looking beyond the agreement on territory, Afable
said it would be important for the international community to
continue to press for more progress in 2008, before
Philippine presidential campaigning begins in 2009. He
believed there should be some form of documented
international support for a peace agreement, as MILF Chairman
Murad had suggested to DCM (ref B), which each side could use
to shore up constituencies.

MNLF Less Focused But Still On Track
————————————

¶9. (C) Contrasting the business-like MILF leadership, Afable
opined that the leadership of the MNLF, centered on the
island of Jolo, probably require support from Middle Eastern
leaders to merge their own peace process with that of the
MILF. Jailed MNLF leader Misuari had made many personal
friends during his years in the Middle East, who cannot be
easily dismissed, despite Misuari’s unpredictable behavior.
Afable noted there had been some discussion of a visit by the
son of Libyan leader Qadhafi, who might be enticed to leave
an emissary who could help guide the fractious MNLF into the
current peace process.

¶10. (C) Comment: The government continues to make
methodical progress toward peace with the MILF, while trying
to draw the MNLF and local political leaders into the
process. The territory agreement looks quite certain to be
concluded in January, which would be a very important
achievement. We will continue to press for more progress
toward agreements on governance and security in 2008, while
also seeking to broaden the constituency for a comprehensive
peace agreement by engaging with concerned business,
political and NGO leaders.
KENNEY

   

 

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