Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/02/09MANILA365.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA365
2009-02-18 09:50
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO5207
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0365/01 0490950
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 180950Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3253
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000365

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2019
TAGS: PINS KISL PTER PREL RP
SUBJECT: NEW PEACE PROCESS ADVISER OPTIMISTIC ABOUT FUTURE TALKS WITH REBELS

REF: MANILA 0153 (PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT EYES PEACE
TALKS BUT SOME HURDLES REMAIN)

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In a February 10 meeting with the Ambassador,
newly installed Peace Process Adviser Avelino Razon, Jr.,
expressed optimism that talks with Muslim rebels in the
southern Philippines would advance this year and described
the government’s recent discussions with the Malaysian
facilitators on how to move talks forward. Demonstrating the
government’s ongoing commitment to peace, he noted that
President Arroyo remained engaged on consultations with
communities and peace process stakeholders throughout
Mindanao, while Razon held meetings with international “peace
experts” to learn from their experiences in conflict
resolution. In an official January visit to Kuala Lumpur,
Razon said, Philippine government chief negotiator Rafael
Seguis suggested to Malaysian officials that they replace
their top facilitator with someone new, citing the benefits
of fresh perspective on the peace process — an idea that
elicited no response from the Malaysians. Still displeased
with Kuala Lumpur’s performance (reftel), Razon explained
that the Philippines continued to solicit Organization of the
Islamic Conference countries to play roles as facilitators.
Ambassador related to Razon an earlier conversation in which
she urged the government to take concrete action to revive
the stalled talks and bluntly urged a rebel peace panel
member to be more flexible in the return to talks. Turning
to other conflicts in the Philippines, Razon expressed
satisfaction that peace talks with Communist rebels and
another Muslim group were also making progress. END SUMMARY.

RAZON OPTIMISTIC ABOUT 2009
—————————

¶2. (C) In a February 10 meeting with the Ambassador, newly
installed Peace Process Adviser Avelino Razon, Jr., expressed
optimism that 2009 would be the “year of progress” for peace
talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Stressing the government’s ongoing commitment to peace, he
noted that President Arroyo remained engaged on consultations
with communities and peace process stakeholders throughout
Mindanao, having visited the towns of Koronadal, South
Cotabato, and Kidapawan, North Cotabato. Over the past
months, Razon said he had learned much from “peace experts”
on the Northern Ireland and Sudan conflicts about the
importance of not giving up and taking creative approaches to
peace. The Ambassador encouraged him to listen to good
advice and, more importantly, to translate that advice into
action. While Razon admitted that he did not yet personally
know any members of the MILF, he said he was familiar with
peace process and Muslim issues from his days in law
enforcement and at the helm of the Philippine National
Police, from which he retired in 2008. Razon expressed the
Philippine government’s gratitude to the Ambassador for U.S.
development assistance in Mindanao, and the Ambassador
offered to visit him again to brief him and his team on U.S.
programs.

TRYING TO ENGAGE MALAYSIA, BUT LOOKING ELSEWHERE
——————————————— —

¶3. (C) Razon outlined the discussions between the Philippine
government’s top peace panel negotiator Undersecretary Rafael
Seguis and Malaysian officials during Seguis’ January visit
to Kuala Lumpur. Seguis suggested to Malaysian officials
that they replace their primary facilitator, Othman Abdul
Razak, with someone new, citing the benefits of bringing
fresh perspective to the peace process. Since the
Philippines had replaced its peace panel with new faces, it
would be appropriate for Malaysia to revamp its own roster of
facilitators. The idea elicited no response from the
Malaysians, Razon said. Still displeased with Kuala Lumpur’s
performance (reftel) in recent years as peace process
facilitator, Razon explained that the Philippines was
continuing to solicit Organization of the Islamic Conference
countries to also become facilitators. Ambassador pointed
out that it could be complicated to have multiple
facilitators and that, if there were, the Philippines would
need strong back channel communications to keep peace talks
from becoming bogged down.

AMBASSADOR URGES MILF TO SHOW FLEXIBILITY
—————————————–

¶4. (C) The Ambassador related to Razon a conversation she had

MANILA 00000365 002 OF 002

earlier that day with an MILF member at a U.S.-sponsored
event on the role of journalists in the peace process, at
which the Ambassador delivered remarks. MILF peace panel
senior member Attorney Michael Mastura, a guest speaker at
the event, approached the Ambassador to thank her for U.S.
support for development work in Mindanao and invited the
Ambassador to visit MILF headquarters at Camp Darapanan.
Ambassador responded that she did not see the utility in a
visit while talks were stalled and fighting continued.
Mastura noted that the MILF was trying to get back to peace
talks, but the Ambassador said the MILF needed to try harder.
Reiterating a point that Mastura himself made in his speech,
the Ambassador observed that, with Filipinos still fighting
each other in Mindanao, the MILF needed to show courage and
push to get back to talks. “If that means showing
flexibility,” the Ambassador pointed out to Mastura, “then do
it.” Accepting the Ambassador’s suggestion, Mastura agreed,
said that fighting had gone on for too long, and noted that
the MILF wanted talks to resume so Mindanao’s Muslims could
have opportunities to improve their lives. The Ambassador
said that the U.S. wanted to help them achieve that in the
context of peace talks.

MINOR PROGRESS IN OTHER PEACE TALKS
———————————–

¶5. (C) Turning to the peace process with the Moro National
Liberation Front (MNLF), Razon said that his office was
reviewing the path for implementing the second phase of the
1996 final peace agreement, and toward that end they were
considering revisions to the law that created the Autonomous
Region of Muslim Mindanao. Razon declined to identify the
government’s negotiating counterpart at the MNLF,
acknowledging it was a “complicated” matter. Talks with the
Communist Party / New People’s Army (NPA) / National
Democratic Front had entered the third round of informals,
Razon said, and the communists had narrowed their list of
demands from 13 to four, an indication of modest progress.

COMMENT
——-

¶6. (C) Razon’s optimism is welcomed by peace process
observers, but there remains a clear need for concrete action
on the part of the government to get back to the negotiating
table. The MILF, for its part, has not modified its
preconditions for talks (revisiting the abandoned territory
agreement and calling for an immediate ceasefire, among other
demands) and maintains an inflexible stance, as the
Ambassador noted in her comments to the MILF peace panel
member. While the parties are engaged in some back channel
communications, they have not yet agreed on a framework for
talks, and this remains a key obstacle to the resumption of
peace negotiations.

KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.