Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/04/05MANILA1748.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA1748 2005-04-15 09:25 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 02 MANILA 001748

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/PMBS, INR/EAP, USIP – SOLOMON
NSC FOR GREEN
SEOUL FOR ERIC JOHN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/15/2015
TAGS: PINS PTER PREL MY RP
SUBJECT: MILF AND ANCESTRAL DOMAIN: A TOUGH NUT TO CRACK

REF: MANILA 1456

Classified By: Political Officer Joseph Saus
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary. The upcoming GRP-MILF “exploratory talks”
will tackle what is arguably the most difficult and
contentious aspect of the conflict in Mindanao — ancestral
domain and proprietary land claims. MILF interlocutors
appear hopeful there is some prospect further to flesh out
some of the finer details of the issue. A key MILF concern
is that any agreed-upon ancestral domain framework will go
unimplemented because of lack of budgetary resources and/or
GRP political will. Representatives of indigenous peoples
(IP) on the MILF technical committee also harbor suspicions
that the dominant Maguindanaoan tribe may not have others’
interests at heart. MILF negotiating parameters make
explicit that the existing Autonomous Region In Muslim
Mindanao (ARMM) will form the core of any future
MILF-administered “Bangsamoro homeland.” End Summary.

Talks Are On
————

¶2. (C) The 12 person MILF technical committee will be in
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for talks with its GRP counterpart and
Malaysian facilitators (as third-party host) April 18-20.
The parties will discuss the contentious issue of ancestral
domain and proprietary land rights in the framework of the
GRP-MILF peace process. While the talks remain technical in
nature and are labeled as the “seventh exploratory talks”
rather than the beginning of formal peace talks, peace panel
members of both parties are expected to attend, including
Silvestre Afable, the head of the GRP panel, who has
repeatedly indicated to emboffs that the GRP was prepared to
be “generous” on the issue of ancestral domain and mineral
rights. In a recent conversation with Pol/C, however, Afable
dismissed the need for any new legislation to flesh out
autonomy and ancestral domain issues from an eventual accord,
claiming that existing legislation on indigenous peoples
would suffice. He also insisted that the ARMM would continue
to exist and that the MILF must somehow “fit into it” in the
post-accord era. He predicted a peace accord was possible
“by year’s end,” backing away from earlier estimates of June
¶2005.

¶3. (C) At an April 14 meeting with poloff, MILF technical
committee member Musib Buat spoke with guarded optimism when
he assessed the prospects of the upcoming meetings in
Malaysia. He said the GRP has privately indicated it will
establish a “Bangsamoro Commission” akin to the largely
“ineffective” National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
Buat indicated the MILF did not welcome such a proposal,
calling it a recycled concept lacking budget and other
resources. Buat also lamented that the GRP tends to come to
the negotiations with “its hands tied,” without the autonomy
to negotiate freely.

A State Within A State
———————-

¶4. (C) Separately, poloff obtained from an MILF technical
committee member a draft document of “general concepts and
negotiation parameters” for the MILF technical committee
members. Although replete with legalistic language citing
the “historic homeland and traditional abode of the
Bangsamoros,” the document clarifies MILF concepts of
“ancestral territoriality, historical identity, political
governance, and natural resources.”

¶5. (C) The MILF concept of the Bangsamoro homeland stretches
from the Sulu Archipelago to Palawan including all but the
northern and eastern existing provinces of Mindanao. An
indigenous peoples’ representative on the MILF technical
committee described the ultimate Bangsamoro objective as “a
state within a state.” He told poloff the area his Blaan
tribe holds centers on General Santos City. He stressed that
he is making sure the MILF does not cut out his people from
any potential agreement on ancestral domain. (Comment.
Sentiments like these indicate there may be some daylight in
the concept of “Bangsamoro homeland.” Social and religious
cleavages exist with the Blaan and other indigenous groups
that remain territorially and culturally distinct from the
Maguindanaoan tribe — the dominant ethnic group of the MILF.
End Comment.)
¶6. (C) The document clearly states that “present areas of
the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) shall form a
part of the core of the Bangsamoro homeland.” Regarding
governance, the document notes that a “transfer of power for
self-governance from the parent State to the Bangsamoro
juridical entity” will take from five to seven years. In
this period of “shared sovereignty,” a transitional mechanism
will transfer and devolve powers and authorities that will
incorporate “the existing autonomous region and institutions
for self-governance.” The document also notes that a
multinational third party would monitor compliance of any
GRP-MILF comprehensive compact, as well as evaluate the
progress of shared sovereignty arrangements toward full
self-governance.

¶7. (C) Regarding natural resources, the “Bangsamoro
authority or entity” will have the right to “utilize and
develop their territorial jurisdictions and ancestral lands,”
including the “occupation, possession, conservation, and
exploitation of all the natural resources found therein.”
Existing forest concessions and mining permits granted by the
GRP or ARMM would require renewal, and the exploitation of
sea and fresh water areas within the Bangsamoro territorial
jurisdictions and the mining of strategic minerals may be
subject to economic cooperation arrangements upon entry into
force of the comprehensive compact.

Comment
——-

¶8. (C) There is no real indication of any significant
meeting of the minds between the GRP and the MILF over the
past several months; it remains a mystery to us why the
Government of Malaysia first delayed this round of talks but
now apparently believes the time for talks is more opportune
than a month or two ago. It will be at least minimally
useful for leaders on both the GRP and MILF to be able to
cite the new round of talks as an indication of some sort of
forward motion, even if the devil is apt to remain in the
details for months — if not years — to come.
Ricciardone

   

 

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