Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/10/07MANILA3392.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA3392
2007-10-11 10:19
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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DE RUEHML #3392/01 2841019
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 111019Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8572
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003392

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/10/2017
TAGS: PREL PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR VIEWS WAY FORWARD IN MILF PEACE PROCESS

REF: A. MANILA 3317 (GOVERNMENT AND MILF NARROW

DIFFERENCES ON TERRITORY
¶B. MANILA 3194 (NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR ON PEACE
PROCESS)
¶C. MANILA 2852 (GOVERNMENT AND MILF TO HOLD
EXECUTIVE SESSION)

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

¶1. (C) Summary: The Ambassador and DCM pressed National
Security Advisor Gonzales to maintain momentum toward closing
peace negotiations with Muslim insurgents over breakfast
October 5. Gonzales described President Arroyo’s impatience
for reaching a deal, but said that recent strains within the
governing coalition and in Congress called into question the
government’s strategy for quickly legislating territorial and
governance provisions for a new Muslim political entity. The
territory issue is very close to resolution, Gonzales said,
but creating a governance structure to include all of
Mindanao’s communities, while also passing constitutional
muster, was still a challenge. Gonzales said he was
considering three models: broad self-determination, with a
charter to be established by a transitional council; truly
competitive and open elections in 2008 in an expanded
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, for which the
insurgents could run candidates; and, “selecting” a competent
candidate with insurgent credentials to run with Presidential
backing in the Autonomous Region elections. The Ambassador
and DCM encouraged the government to stay focused, since time
is of the essence to implement an agreement during President
Arroyo’s tenure. In a separate meeting on October 4, former
government negotiator Afable, who participated in
negotiations in Kuala Lumpur in late September, told DCM that
divisions in the governing coalition had raised the political
price of concluding a peace deal, but that President Arroyo
still wanted it. The Ambassador’s Iftar dinner October 2
attracted a remarkable cross-section of Mindanao’s
oft-divided political leadership, including an insurgent
representative, underscoring the potential for reconciliation
and progress. End Summary.

¶2. (C) In a friendly and open discussion, the Ambassador and
DCM noted the positive environment for concluding a peace
agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
insurgents. The people want peace; the insurgent leadership
is politically weak; Philippine military leaders support
peace; and the international community is more engaged and
supportive than ever. The moment should not be lost, the
Ambassador said, and forward momentum is critical to maintain
the support of these and other stakeholders.

¶3. (C) Political challenges: Gonzales described President
Arroyo’s insistence on reaching a peace deal. The government
had embarked on consultations with key members of Congress to
educate them and build support for a negotiated deal.
However, unrelated recriminations within the governing
coalition had created unexpected challenges to the
government’s plan to introduce and quickly pass legislation
containing territorial and governance provisions for a new
Muslim political entity (ref B). Allegations of high-level
corruption involving a Chinese loan to develop a National
Broadband Network deal had recently led to the resignation of
the head of the Commission on Elections and created fissures
among pro-Administration members of both the House and
Senate. The Ambassador steered Gonzales back to the peace
process, noting that political challenges will always arise.

¶4. (C) Territory and Governance provisions: Gonzales said
the territory issue was very close to resolution, but
creating a governance structure to include all of Mindanao’s
communities that also passed constitutional muster was a
significant challenge. Gonzales said the Cabinet was
considering three possible models. The first model would
grant broad self-determination for the new Muslim political
entity, with a charter to be established by a transitional
council. While this model is most attractive to the
insurgents, Gonzales said it was the most difficult
constitutionally. Under the second model, the MILF could run
candidates against other Muslim factions in truly competitive
and open elections already scheduled for 2008, in an expanded
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Truly competitive
elections would break with tradition, Gonzales noted, since
the Presidential Palace would have to forego its historical
practice of backing candidates financially and politically.
The third model involved the “selection” of a competent
candidate with insurgent credentials to run with Presidential
backing in the Autonomous Region elections, in the hopes that
such a candidate could attract MILF support.

MANILA 00003392 002 OF 002

¶5. (C) Gonzales complained that MILF leaders want political
leadership of Muslim Mindanao handed to them without regard
to their ability to win elections. DCM described discussions
he has had with MILF leaders in which they supported a
transitional council with set numbers of representatives
appointed by the President, the MILF and other Muslim and
Christian groups. The Ambassador noted that good
constitutional lawyers could perhaps find ways to press the
envelope in fleshing out President Arroyo’s concept of
self-determination. A new approach to governance was perhaps
needed to pull-in the Muslim youth, so they do not support
insurgent activity. The Ambassador and DCM encouraged the
government to stay focused, noting that time was of the
essence for an agreement to be implemented before the
expiration of President Arroyo’s tenure in 2010. Gonzales
replied that the Cabinet’s National Security Cluster would
meet later that day to try to finalize the territory issue.
He would continue to consider and consult on the governance
issues.

¶6. (C) Former Negotiator: In a separate meeting on October
4, former government negotiator Afable (who participated in
the late September executive session negotiations in Kuala
Lumpur, ref C) underscored to the DCM that President Arroyo
remained committed to negotiating a comprehensive and durable
peace agreement. He worried, however, that recent political
events were distracting her advisors and raising the
political costs of concluding a deal. While the territory
provisions could be agreed, Afable was concerned that some
cabinet members may believe that governance provisions
acceptable to the MILF would be too hard politically for the
government to accept.

¶7. (C) Iftar Dinner: A remarkable cross-section of
Mindanao’s oft-divided political leadership attended an Iftar
dinner at the Ambassador’s residence October 2. Attendees
included a representative from the leadership of the MILF, as
well as leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front, Office
of Muslim Affairs, Congress, Autonomous Region Regional
Government, local government units, non-governmental
organizations, civil society, and prominent Christian
political figures such as Senate President Manny Villar.
Their attendance pointedly underscored the potential for
reconciliation and progress in the peace process.

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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