Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/08/06MANILA3344.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA3344 2006-08-09 06:43 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO4803
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3344/01 2210643
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 090643Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2416
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003344

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2016
TAGS: MOPS PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: MILF SEEKS GREATER US INVOLVEMENT IN PEACE PROCESS

REF: A. MANILA 2994
¶B. MANILA 2833
¶C. MANILA 2623
¶D. MANILA 1747

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Paul W. Jones
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary. During DCM and Poloff’s low-key, two-day
visit to Muslim Mindanao’s political center in Cotabato, Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Vice-Chairman Jafaar sought
greater USG involvement in the GRP-MILF Peace Process.
Meeting at the MILF’s camp in Sultan Kudurat, Maguindanao on
July 24, Jafaar hoped more direct USG engagement could help
ensure Government implementation of an eventual agreement.
DCM acknowledged the MILF’s ejection in November 2005 of top
JI and ASG terrorists from its territory, but stressed that
the MILF needs to ensure that no JI or ASG remain. The
current ceasefire between the MILF and the Armed Forces of
the Philippines is stable and durable, according to leaders
of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team, Armed
Forces of the Philippines 6th Infantry Division, Bantay
Ceasefire NGO, and the MILF’s Jafaar. However, intra-Muslim
clan conflicts still lead to occasional violence, pitting
local militias against certain MILF commanders, as evidenced
from the June 28-July 6 fighting in Maguindanao. Embassy
plans to continue informal, low-key engagement with the MILF
leadership to explore whether we can quicken the pace toward
a durable peace agreement that also ensures that JI and ASG
terrorists are eradicated from central Mindanao. End Summary.

———————————-
Greater USG Role in Peace Process?
———————————-

¶2. (C) Calling DCM’s visit “a welcome development,” Moro
Islamic Liberation Front Vice-Chairman Ghazali Jafaar said he
hoped the USG would play a greater, more direct role in the
MILF-GRP Peace Process. DCM and Poloff heard similar
comments separately from the heads of the MILF-connected
Bangsamoro Development Agency and Institute for Bangsamoro
Studies (IBS). Each explained that then-MILF Chairman
Salamat Hashim requested such a USG role in the peace process
in a letter to President Bush in 2003. All praised the
Malaysian government’s facilitating role. IBS Director
Lingga suggested that Malaysia would also welcome direct USG
support for the process, which he said would quicken the pace
towards an agreement. Jafaar focused particularly on the
MILF’s concern over implementation of an agreement, in light
of the poor experience with implementation of the 1996
Government of the Philippines – Moro National Liberation
Front (MNLF) Agreement. He indicated that he hoped the USG
would help ensure that the Government upheld its end of the
agreement. He speculated that once an agreement was signed,
the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) could
monitor implementation of the agreement, in place of its
current role in monitoring the ceasefire. (Comment: Such an
arrangement could run the risk of making permanent the
current difficulties that Philippine authorities have in
accessing MILF territories in pursuit of terrorists. End
comment.)

¶3. (C) DCM outlined the significant U.S. development
assistance already in place in Mindanao, while noting that
the USG has no interest in seeking to supplant Malaysia’s
constructive role in the peace process. The USG hoped to
provide additional assistance to help reintegrate former MILF
fighters immediately upon conclusion of a peace agreement, as
the U.S. had successfully done after the MNLF peace
agreement. However, DCM continued, it would be important for
the MILF to demonstrate credibly to the U.S. and
international community that no remnants of JI and ASG
remained in MILF zones.

—————-
Stable Ceasefire
—————-

¶4. (C) In a command briefing from the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) 6th Infantry Division in Cotabato, as well
as in subsequent meetings with the Malaysian-led IMT and a
non-governmental organization called “Bantay Ceasefire,” the
current MILF-AFP ceasefire was described as durable and
stable. AFP 6th Infantry Division Commanding General
Obaniana noted, however, that under the current ceasefire the
AFP was not permitted to operate in approximately one third
of its Area of Responsibility (AOR), without prior
coordination with the MILF. IMT Chief of Mission
Major-General Soheimi, who sounded very well-disposed toward
the MILF, said it was clear that neither side wanted to fight

MANILA 00003344 002 OF 002

now. He said he had strong relationships with local MILF and
AFP commanders, and that he and his 59 person team act as a
conduit for confidence-building information about troop
movements. “Bantay Ceasefire,” which began monitoring the
ceasefire the year before the IMT was established, continues
to train and deploy civilian volunteers into the field,
“armed only with cell phones.” Several Bantay Ceasefire
members were deploying to the scene of recent fighting early
next morning. They and the IMT leadership were impressed by
the MILF’s ability to control its units, as well as its
ability to govern in areas under its control.

———–
Local Feuds
———–

¶5. (C) AFP 6th I.D. General Obaniana explained that the AFP
sometimes found itself caught in the middle between feuding
clans and acted as a buffer. The most recent fighting in
Maguindanao was another chapter in the feud between the
Ampatuan clan, which holds political power in Maguindanao
Province and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),
and the MILF 105th Brigade Commander Ameril Kato. The
Ampatuan clan controls local well-armed militias known as
Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs), which exist
throughout the Philippines but are armed only in Mindanao.
The AFP and MILF had agreed to establish a buffer zone
between themselves, and to require CVO militias to remain
behind AFP lines, in order to prevent direct engagement
between the CVOs and MILF commanders. General Obaniana said
that President Arroyo’s office was exploring ways to disarm
the CVOs to avoid future violence. While all interlocutors
agreed that the AFP is under overall policy control, some
members of Bantay Ceasefire claimed that certain AFP
commanders provide arms to CVOs.

———–
Local Color
———–

¶6. (C) DCM and Poloff drove south of Cotabato to Shariff
Aguak, the area of recent fighting and the Maguindanaoan
Provincial seat. Along the well-paved two-lane road was a
bustling market sporting backpacks and local goods, evidently
rich farmland and busy yet poor farmers. After a thirty
minute drive, a gleaming new city hall appeared, next to a
sparkling compound with a gilded dome atop a mosque, with a
similar compound across the street. The compound belonged to
patriarch Governor Andal Amaptuan, who was at the time in
Manila for the President’s State of the Nation Address. The
only evidence of recent fighting, which had occurred about
two kilometers inland, was a compound that had served to feed
refugees.

——-
Comment
——-

¶7. (C) The MILF is clearly interested in greater direct USG
engagement. We intend to pursue their interest carefully to
explore whether we can nudge the peace process forward,
without disturbing Malaysia’s constructive role, and ensure
that an eventual agreement addresses the U.S. interest in
ridding Mindanao of terrorists. If there is true interest,
multiple elements of this Mission that are engaged in
Mindanao can be brought to bear to encourage an agreement
that creates a lasting peace.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

Jones

   

 

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