Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2010/02/10MANILA235.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10MANILA235
2010-02-04 08:04
2011-08-30 01:44
SECRET
Embassy Manila

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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000235

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2020
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINS PTER MOPS RP NO
SUBJECT: NO SIGN OF PROGRESS IN PEACE TALKS WITH COMMUNISTS

REF: 09 MANILA 1645 (GOVERNMENT TO RESUME TALKS)

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Leslie A. Bassett,
reason: 1.4 (b) and (d).

SUMMARY
——-

¶1. (S) Norwegian peace talks facilitator Vegar Brynildsen
told us on February 3 that a failed agreement to restart
formal talks between the Philippine government and the
communist National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)
demonstrated the waning influence of self-exiled communist
leader Jose Maria Sison in the NDFP. Brynildsen was unsure
who in the NDFP held ultimate policymaking authority.
Brynildsen anticipated no significant progress in peace talks
with the communists prior to the Philippine election in May,
but Norway remains prepared to facilitate talks for the next
administration. Leftists remain concerned about human rights
abuses. Brynildsen believed Philippine leftists would most
favor Senators Villar and Legarda in the coming election;
separately a Villar ally suggested high-ranking military
officers have been uneasy about Villar’s association with
leftists. End Summary.

SISON CAN’T DELIVER TALKS
————————-

¶2. (S) Norwegian Special Envoy Vegar Brynildsen met on
February 3 with poloffs to discuss Norwegian efforts to
facilitate peace talks between the Philippine government and
the communist National Democratic Front of the Philippines
(NDFP). Brynildsen said Communist Party of the Philippines
(CPP) co-founder Jose Maria Sison held a four-eyes meeting
with Presidential Peace Advisor Annabelle Abaya somewhere in
the Netherlands at the end of November. (Strictly protect —
Brynildsen cautioned that discussion of this meeting could
call into question the discretion of the Norwegian
facilitators.) At that meeting, the two agreed to hold
formal talks in Oslo in December. It soon became clear to
Brynildsen, however, that the NDFP leadership in the
Philippines refused to abide by Sison’s commitment to formal
talks.

¶3. (C) This development showed the Norwegians that Sison, who
has been self-exiled in the Netherlands since 1987, is no
longer “calling the shots” for the communist side, but,
rather, needs further approval from Philippine-based figures.
Brynildsen said he found it a “real challenge” to work as
facilitator not knowing the inner workings of the NDFP and
who held ultimate policymaking authority on the communist
side. Normally, the Norwegian government insists on meeting
with the top leaders of both sides before agreeing to act as
an international facilitator. Tangentially, Brynildsen
remarked that he was not positively impressed with the
quality of Philippine government intelligence on the NDFP.

NO NEAR-TERM BREAKTHROUGH
————————-

¶4. (C) Brynildsen was confident no breakthrough in the peace
talks with the NDFP would occur before the Philippine
election in May. Nevertheless, he was pleased the Philippine
government managed to keep tensions with the communists low
rather than taking a more confrontational approach. The
Norwegian government would remain available to the parties
after the election, Brynildsen said. The NDFP desired a
continued Norwegian role, and all relevant actors (NFI) had
told Brynildsen that they viewed the Norwegians as providing
a useful channel of communication.

¶5. (C) Brynildsen said Sison had been very pleased with the
removal of his name from the EU’s list of formally designated
terrorists. This development had not in any way influenced
the peace process, however.

HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS REMAIN
—————————-

¶6. (C) Explaining that he met regularly in the Philippines
with a wide range of civil society representatives,
Brynildsen claimed the political left remained very concerned
about extrajudicial killings. Leftists claimed that murders
continued, but the killers disposed of the bodies in such a
way that these could be categorized as disappearances rather
than extra-judicial killings. (Comment: While we do not

MANILA 00000235 002 OF 002

doubt that leftists remain genuinely concerned, we have not
detected a recent rise in disappearances — see recent years’
Country Reports on Human Rights for the Philippines. End
Comment.)

PRESIDENTIAL RACE
—————–

¶7. (C) Brynildsen opined that the election of presidential
candidate Manuel Villar might prove conducive to peace talks
with the NDFP. Villar appeared willing to negotiate with
leftists, and the NDFP had taken positive note of some of his
public statements about human rights and income distribution.
Brynildsen also remarked that Sison “loves” Villar’s running
mate, Senator Loren Legarda, although Brynildsen did not know
precisely why Legarda appealed to Sison.

¶8. (C) Separately, we asked close Villar ally Ronnie Zamora,
minority leader in the House of Representatives, if the
Villar camp worried about right-wing anxiety arising from
Villar’s Nacionalista Party including far-left candidates
Satur Ocampo and Liza Masa on its senatorial slate. Zamora
said “every General in town” had expressed concern about
Villar’s interactions with the left. Zamora believed this
anxiety would not prove significant, though. He explained to
anyone concerned that the Nacionalistas had a balanced
senatorial slate that included right-wingers such as
Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., and that Villar’s outreach to the left
was pragmatic, as Ocampo and Masa could likely deliver
approximately two million votes.

COMMENT
——-

¶9. (C) The Philippine government and armed forces generally
consider the communist threat to be more serious than that
posed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Yet the
Arroyo administration appears to have shown greater interest
in making progress toward an agreement with the MILF than in
pursuing talks with the NDFP. It is unclear to us whether
this focus is because the MILF’s agenda appears less
threatening to the core interests of the Manila-based elite;
because the MILF’s leadership is more coherent and decisive
than the communists’; or because there is greater
international interest in seeing a resolution to the conflict
with the Moros.
BASSETT

   

 

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