Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/04/07MANILA1243.html
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA1243
2007-04-19 02:41
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001243

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/19/2017
TAGS: PREL PINS KISL RP MY
SUBJECT: MILF PEACE TALKS MAY RESUME BEFORE MAY 14 ELECTIONS

REF: A. MANILA 962

¶B. MANILA 952
¶C. MANILA 828
¶D. MANILA 594
¶E. MANILA 281

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

¶1. (C) Summary. Exploratory talks between the Government of
the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will
likely resume in Kuala Lumpur on May 1. At the top of the
agenda will be the MILF’s latest proposal to include
territory from only three provinces — Sultan Kudarat, North
Cotabato, and Lanao Del Norte — outside of the “core”
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao within a new “Bangsamoro
Juridical Entity.” The enabling legislation and plebiscite
to create a new political entity will eventually hinge upon
majority support in Congress after the May 14 elections.
MILF leaders are discussing the establishment of their own
independent political party. The MILF remains concerned
about potential “spoilers” — powerful business families,
traditional politicians, and/or “hawkish” elements in the
Philippine military — to a peace accord. The imminent
resumption of talks will be welcome news, and even moreso are
the indications of apparent new flexibility by the MILF on a
more realistic proposal on territory. End Summary.

——————————-
Exploratory Talks Set To Resume
——————————-

¶2. (C) According to Executive Director of the GRP Peace
Negotiations Panel Ryan Sullivan, peace talks with the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will likely resume in Kuala
Lumpur on May 1. Included on the agenda for the 14th Round
of Exploratory Talks are the MILF’s latest proposal on
territory, the inclusion of Sweden (and possibly Canada as
well) on the International Monitoring Team, and the
Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute.

—————-
MILF Compromises
—————-

¶3. (C) Sullivan described an early April MILF proposal as a
“significant compromise” on the prospective territorial
boundaries for a new “Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.”
Municipalities and barangays (townships) from only three
provinces outside of the “core” six-province Autonomous
Region in Muslim Mindanao — Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato,
and Lanao Del Norte — were in the latest proposal, which
remains under review by the Philippine Cabinet. Sullivan
admitted that it would be “difficult” for the MILF leadership
to reduce its territorial claims further without damaging its
credibility among MILF supporters. Sullivan nonetheless
predicted no final agreement on territory during this next
round of negotiations. He emphasized that members of both
the GRP and the MILF Peace Panels wanted to end their
eight-month impasse and to revive momentum in the peace
process before the May 14 Congressional and local elections.

¶4. (C) According to MILF Information Committee Chairman
Mohagher Iqbal, a 5-day seminar-workshop on
self-determination took place on February 23-27 at the MILF
Camp in Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan Province. (Note:
This was a week after the meeting by Embassy delegation led
by DCM with MILF Central Committee members described in ref
d. End note) In attendance were members of the MILF Central
Committee and delegates from various parts of Mindanao,
including Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Davao, and Zamboanga.
Iqbal did not confirm that the participants specifically
debated the merits of the new proposal or even discussed it,
however.

———————————
Support From New Congress Crucial
———————————

¶5. (C) MILF Peace Panel member Michael Mastura separately
underscored that the outcome of the upcoming elections was of
crucial importance to the eventual success of the peace
talks. Creation of a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity would
eventually require enabling legislation as well as a
plebiscite that a majority of Congress would have to approve.
Mastura, a former member of Congress, noted that peace in
Mindanao was an issue that crossed party lines, describing
support from some members of the Opposition for a Bangsamoro

MANILA 00001243 002 OF 002

Juridical Entity, while certain pro-Administration
politicians were opposed. Mastura added that the MILF
leaders continue to hold internal discussions on the
establishment of their own political party, which he
emphasized would be completely independent of any existing
national level party.

———————————-
Concerns Over Potential “Spoilers”
———————————-

¶6. (C) While expressing cautious optimism for the peace
talks, Mastura voiced concerns about potential “spoilers” —
powerful business families (he specifically cited the
Alcantaras), traditional politicians (notably, the Ampatuan
clan), and what he called “hawkish elements” within the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Mastura added that he had
personally drafted MILF Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim’s
response to President Arroyo’s March 14 directive calling
for closer cooperation between the AFP and established peace
process mechanisms (ref c). While recognizing the importance
of this directive, Mastura underscored the need for sustained
vigilance by Malacanang and Congress for its implementation.

——-
Comment
——-

¶7. (C) The imminent resumption of talks will be welcome
news, and even moreso are the indications of apparent new
flexibility by the MILF on a more realistic proposal on
territory. Whatever deal on territory eventually emerges
from the talks will be a hard sell locally and in Congress,
but one on which Malacanang seems prepared to make a full
court press to succeed when the time comes.

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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