Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/06/08MANILA1463.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1463
2008-06-18 10:54
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO2188
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1463/01 1701054
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 181054Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1046
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001463

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/19/2018
TAGS: PREL PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: NEW PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR SEEKS RESUMPTION OF MILF PEACE TALKS

REF: A. MANILA 1192 (FORMER MILITARY CHIEF TO HEAD PEACE
PROCESS)
¶B. MANILA 1091 (CONSTITUTIONAL PROCESS REMAINS KEY
ISSUE FOR PEACE TALKS)
¶C. MANILA 1021 (AMBASSADOR AND FOREIGN SECRETARY
DISCUSS PEACE PROCESS)

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

¶1. (C) Summary: In a one-on-one breakfast with Ambassador
on June 18, President Arroyo’s new top advisor on the peace
process — retired Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of
Staff Hermogenes Esperon — said he is working to end a
six-month impasse in negotiations with the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF). A revised draft memorandum of
agreement on ancestral domain approved by the Cabinet June 17
will be forwarded to the Muslim insurgents through Malaysian
facilitators this week. Esperon appears eager to capitalize
on his wealth of knowledge and experience on the Muslim
insurgency, and his well-established contacts within
Philippine military, security, and political circles to
advance the Mindanao peace process. The Ambassador stressed
to Esperon aware our concerns over the continuing impasse in
peace negotiations, phased withdrawal of the Malaysian
International Monitoring Team, and recent uptick in violence.
Esperon welcomed the opportunity to travel with the
Ambassador to Basilan in July, and voiced appreciation for
the Ambassador’s offer of a briefing on USAID, Department of
Agriculture, and Public Affairs initiatives in
conflict-affected areas, and discussions with U.S.
counterparts from the United Kingdom and Australia on peace
and security. End Summary.

¶2. (C) Retired Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of
Staff Hermogenes Esperon officially took over as President
Arroyo’s top advisor on the peace process June 16. During a
one-on-one breakfast with the Ambassador June 18, Esperon
embraced his new role, praising the professionalism and
accomplishments of his staff at the Office of the
Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process. Ambassador
stressed the importance of restoring momentum to the MILF
peace process, while at the same time underscoring the impact
the phased withdrawal of the Malaysian International
Monitoring Team, and recent uptick in violence, including the
May 29 bombing in Zamboanga City and June 8 kidnapping of
ABS-CBN news broadcaster Ces Drilon, are having on the
security situation in Mindanao.

¶3. (C) Esperon was clearly focused on resuming the
government’s peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF), which have been stalled since last December.
While emphasizing the importance of advancing the MILF peace
process, Esperon informed Ambassador of the Cabinet’s June 17
clearance of a revised draft memorandum of agreement (MOA) on
ancestral domain. To allay concerns of some Cabinet members
that the use of the term “freedom” in the draft agreement
could be construed as allowing independence for a new Muslim
political entity, Esperon said the term was modified to
“freedoms,” thereby connoting individual rather than group
rights. Esperon also noted that the draft MOA sought to
alleviate MILF concerns over any reference to a
constitutional approval process by simply saying the
government was subject to “appropriate legal approval.”

¶4. (C) Esperon said that he knows MILF Vice-Chairman for
Political Affairs Ghazali Jafaar on a personal basis, and
hoped to make use of back-channel communications with the
MILF once the government’s draft MOA was provided to
Malaysian peace talk facilitators. He was cautiously
optimistic that the MILF would find the draft MOA acceptable
so that both parties could return to the negotiating table by
late June. Esperon said he recognized the important role
played by the Malaysians but hoped he could get word to the
MILF as well to signal the Philippine government’s sincerity.
Esperon acknowledged that the August 11 Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections would be held as scheduled,
ending months of speculation over a possible postponement.
He said that he would accompany President Arroyo for a visit
to Mindanao June 18, when Arroyo would announce her support
for Zaldy Ampatuan’s reelection as ARMM governor. Esperon
viewed the three-year term of the next ARMM administration as
“a transition period” for the creation of a new Muslim
political entity, and the end of political clan politics as
embodied in the Ampatuan family.

¶5. (C) Comment: Esperon possesses a wealth of knowledge and
experience on the Muslim insurgency from his military days,
and is now eager to return to Mindanao in his new capacity as

MANILA 00001463 002 OF 002

peace process advisor. Esperon expressed frustration and
concern over the current security situation in the Sulu
Archipelago, and looked forward to accompanying the
Ambassador on a trip to Basilan in coming weeks. Esperon
also welcomed the Ambassador’s offer to arrange a briefing on
USAID, Department of Agriculture, and Public Affairs
initiatives in conflict affected areas, and to schedule a
breakfast meeting with U.S. counterparts from Australia and
the United Kingdom on the Mindanao peace process. Esperon
was particularly interested in obtaining U.S. development
assistance for the Liguasan Marsh area in central Mindanao
and in reconstituting a lapsed ceasefire mechanism, the Ad
Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), which had played an important
role in mitigating tensions.

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/

KENNEY

   

 

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