Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/08/08MANILA1844.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1844
2008-08-04 06:21
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO2331
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DE RUEHML #1844/01 2170621
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 040621Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1479
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH IMMEDIATE 0751
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH IMMEDIATE 0359
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 001844

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/06/2018
TAGS: PGOV EAID PINR PREL PHUM KISL RP
SUBJECT: MILF CONTINUES TO SUPPORT PEACE PROCESS, INTERESTED IN DEEPER DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

REF: A. MANILA 1697 (PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT TO SIGN
TERRITORIAL AGREEMENT WITH MUSLIM
INSURGENTS)
¶B. MANILA 1676 (PEACE NEGOTIATIONS WITH MUSLIM
INSURGENTS MOVE FORWARD)
¶C. MANILA 1463 (NEW PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR SEEKS
RESUMPTION OF MILF PEACE TALKS)

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

¶1. (C) Summary: In a July 30 meeting with the Deputy Chief of
Mission at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Camp
Simuay, Vice Chairman Ghazali Jafaar discussed the MILF’s
outlook on the upcoming elections in the Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the peace process, and the post-peace
agreement transition to self-governance. During the meeting,
in which DCM and Jafaar exchanged views as they have on
previous encounters, the DCM reiterated U.S. government
support for the peace process, outlined additional
development assistance, and reinforced the need to remove
individuals obstructing progress (i.e., terrorists). Jafaar
emphasized the MILF’s continued support for the peace
process, but expressed concern that the August 11 ARMM
elections could disrupt progress. Pointing to the future, he
described a basic roadmap for the period following the final
peace agreement, which would include a six to 10 year
transitional government. The DCM suggested to Jafaar that
the group increase its public exposure as a way to demystify
and humanize their operation for the broader public. Jafaar
was accompanied by four Central Committee members. At a
subsequent meeting with Cotabato City Mayor and leader of the
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Muslimin Sema, the DCM
reinforced U.S. support for the peace process and discussed
opportunities for additional development projects.
Separately, an Assistant Deputy Military Commander with the
Philippine Armed Forces Sixth Infantry Division expressed his
concern over increasing MILF incursions in key villages. The
Defense Attache, Poloff, and A/RSO accompanied the DCM to
these meetings. End Summary.

Elections, Peace Process, and Public Relations
——————————————— –

¶2. (C) In a July 30 meeting with Deputy Chief of Mission at
the MILF’s Camp Simuay in central Mindanao, MILF Vice
Chairman for Political Affairs Ghazali Jafaar, flanked by
four Central Committee members, discussed his group’s outlook
on the peace process, the upcoming August 11 ARMM elections,
and his thoughts on a post-peace agreement transition.
Jafaar expressed concern about Philippine Senate opposition
to the postponement of the ARMM elections and about reports
from the province of North Cotabato where communities were
reportedly arming themselves to oppose inclusion in the new
Muslim political entity. Peace negotiations would
nonetheless continue, he said, after the anticipated August 5
signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain,
which is the next step on the road to a comprehensive peace
agreement. Following the final peace agreement, he
envisioned a transitional government would operate for a
period of six to 10 years, in which time a charter for the
new Muslim political entity would be drafted and new
electoral systems implemented.

¶3. (C) Describing his group’s efforts to expand cooperation
with others, Jafaar said that the MILF, the MNLF, local
mayors, ARMM Governor Ampatuan, and traditional leaders
should unite on common issues to cooperate on the peace
process. To that end, Jafaar noted that MILF leader Haji
Murad Ebrahim and former MNLF leader Nur Misuari agreed to
hold a private meeting in Saudi Arabia, but that it was not
yet scheduled. Through frequent meetings with the leader of
a grassroots peace movement, Jafaar said he was looking for
more ways that non-Muslim groups could help “neutralize” the
perceived apprehension of non-Muslims toward the MILF.
Noting the positive effect of television coverage during the
Ambassador’s February meeting with Murad, the DCM encouraged
Jafaar to consider more outreach to non-Muslims and further
urged him, as a trust-building measure, to let the broader
public learn more about the insurgent group and the people
who lead it, which could help demystify the group’s workings.
With regard to the August 5 signing of the territorial
agreement in Malaysia, Jafaar stated that a deputy from the
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) would attend,

MANILA 00001844 002 OF 003

signifying the OIC’s support for the MILF peace process.
(Note: The OIC only officially recognizes the MNLF.)

MILF Receptive to New Foreign Assistance Projects
——————————————— —-

¶4. (C) Jafaar was receptive to the DCM’s proposal for
engagement with the U.S. on new U.S. assistance strategies in
Mindanao. Projects would encompass areas such as police
reform through “model police” initiatives, livelihood
projects, drug rehabilitation, and programs for Out-of-School
Youth, among others. Jafaar said the MILF might be able to
make counterpart contributions in the form of labor, land,
raw materials or other in-kind donations to support the
execution of some projects. He was receptive to the DCM’s
suggestion to use projects to build bridges between local
government leaders and civil society. Jafaar agreed to
follow-up with a meeting between U.S. and MILF teams to
discuss strategically how U.S. assistance can help build
reconciliation and peace.

Philippine Armed Forces Sixth Infantry Commander Wary of MILF
——————————————— —————-

¶5. (C) Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Sixth Infantry
Division Assistant Deputy Commander and Brigadier General
Loreto Rirao at his Cotabato City headquarters said his
officers on the ground in key municipalities of North
Cotabato province were reporting MILF incursions. Rirao
worried that these advances were intended to expel
non-Muslims in advance of the 2009 plebiscite, which will
determine which villages join the current Autonomous Region
to form the new Muslim political entity. Increasing
incursions by MILF forces outside the cease-fire zone and
other recent MILF activities, including the surrounding of an
AFP detachment in Aleosan, North Cotabato province, were of
growing concern. Since the AFP was in a “hold and protect”
mode in support of the peace process rather than on the
offensive, Rirao said many citizens were becoming
apprehensive. With regard to the August 11 ARMM elections,
the AFP would send one battalion to assist with security
measures.

Reconciliation Between Two Insurgent Groups
——————————————-

¶6. (C) DCM and Embassy team lunched with Cotabato City Mayor
Muslimin Sema, an elected official and MNLF leader. Sema,
who meets frequently with Embassy officers, was pleased that
his group and the MILF had reconciled some of their
differences at a June 14 meeting. Sema noted that he would
be open to attending the August 5 signing in Kuala Lumpur of
the territorial agreement between the Philippine government
and the MILF. Sema also addressed the status of several
USAID assistance projects in Cotabato City and highlighted
the success of the USNS MERCY humanitarian mission in June.

Comment
——-

¶7. (C) Embassy officials continue to engage high-level
Philippine counterparts, the MILF, the MNLF, and local
leaders to reinforce the strong U.S. support for the peace
process and to encourage the pursuit of a political solution
to the conflict in Mindanao. The meeting with Jafaar
revealed his group’s interest in opening new avenues of
cooperation with the U.S. government as we plan project
locations for development assistance. We look to a stronger
relationship to leverage cooperation against terrorists. The
Ambassador and country team are planning a series of visits
to Mindanao to engage local leaders on the need to press
ahead for peace and to discuss ways that development
assistance can help to bring about the conditions for peace
in individual communities. We plan to send U.S. Embassy
observers to the Cotabato City area to witness the ARMM
regional government elections if they take place on August
¶11.

List of MILF Participants
————————-

¶8. (C) The following MILF Central Committee members
participated in the July 30 meeting at Camp Simuay:

MANILA 00001844 003 OF 003

Ghazali Jafaar, Vice-Chairman for Political Affairs;
(Mufti) Omar Pasigan, a member of the MILF Executive
Committee and Ghazali Jafaar’s uncle, educated at Al Azhar
University, Cairo;
Ahmed Doli, with responsibilities on the Intercommittee and
serving as a member of the MILF Executive Committee;
Khalifa Nando, with responsibilities on the Shari’ah
committee and serving as a member of the MILF Executive
Committee;
Muhammed Muntasir, with responsibilities on the Shari’ah
committee.

KENNEY

   

 

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