Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2010/02/10MANILA251.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10MANILA251
2010-02-08 08:26
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6515
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000251

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/09/2020
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: PARTIES SHARE DRAFT PEACE ACCORDS, BUT POSITIONS ARE FAR APART

REF: MANILA 0073 (GOVERNMENT RACING AGAINST TIME FOR
MILF PEACE AGREEMENT)

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Negotiators from the Philippine government
and the insurgent Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) met
January 27-28 in Kuala Lumpur to exchange first drafts of a
final peace agreement, and assessed that their positions were
too distant to allow for a comprehensive settlement by the
end of President Arroyo’s term in June. Nonetheless,
Philippine Peace Panel Chairman Rafael Seguis told the Charge
d’Affaires February 2 he is “cautiously optimistic” that some
sort of interim agreement, based on a few areas of consensus,
could be worked out within the next several months.
According to Seguis, the MILF seeks a firm commitment before
signing a peace deal that the government would take steps
later on to establish a new Muslim autonomous region through
constitutional amendment — a non-starter, from the
government’s point of view, since such changes can only be
proposed by Congress, not the executive branch. The
government instead prefers to focus on short-term
deliverables that can be achieved through executive actions
or legislative remedies. While the MILF was publicly
disappointed with the talks’ outcome, it has resolved to keep
discussions moving forward. The parties plan to reconvene in
Kuala Lumpur February 18-19 for another round of talks. End
Summary.

IN DRAFT PAPERS, PARTIES’ POSITIONS FAR APART
———————————————

¶2. (C) Negotiators from the Philippine government and the
southern Philippines insurgent group Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) met January 27-28 in Kuala Lumpur to exchange
their respective drafts of a final peace agreement.
Philippine Peace Panel Chairman Rafael Seguis said in a
February 2 meeting with the Charge d’Affaires that the
parties’ positions were too far apart to allow for a
comprehensive settlement by the end of President Arroyo’s
term in June. The government’s 17-page draft, he said,
identified concrete issues that could be addressed in the
near term through executive actions or congressional
legislation. The government’s proposal fell far short of the
MILF’s expectations, Seguis noted, but adhered closely to the
limits imposed by Philippine law and the Supreme Court.

¶3. (C) In contrast, Seguis noted, the MILF’s much lengthier
draft addressed the governance structure of the new
autonomous region and the expanded territory to be included
in it. The MILF’s proposal also sought a firm commitment —
before the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement — that
the government would eventually make efforts to amend the
Philippine Constitution to establish the new Muslim
autonomous region. However, citing the established process
for constitutional amendments, which must originate in
Congress, Seguis said the government could not make that
commitment. After an initial, brief joint session the first
day, the parties conducted “proximity talks” — in the same
building but different rooms — at the request of the MILF,
an expression of the group’s sharp disappointment in the
government’s proposal.

“CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC” FOR INTERIM AGREEMENT
———————————————

¶4. (C) Chairman Seguis told the Charge that, despite the
distance between the two texts, he was “cautiously
optimistic” that the two sides would be able to put together
an interim agreement based on a smaller number of consensus
areas, and that the MILF would agree to such an arrangement.
In a January 28 joint press statement released by the
Malaysian facilitator, the parties agreed to “preserve
gains,” continue to review texts, and meet again on February
18-19. At the next meeting, Seguis said he hoped to acquire
clarification on some of the MILF’s proposals, including the
nature of the relationship between the new autonomous region
and the central government. Moving forward, Seguis said the
government would remain focused on deliverable outcomes, such
as the nomination and appointment of Muslims to the courts,
the scaling down of military presence in Mindanao, and a
proposal for the fiscal autonomy of the new region.

MILF’S VISION OF GOVERNANCE
—————————

MANILA 00000251 002 OF 002

¶5. (C) In contrast to the more limited scope of the
government’s draft text, Seguis said the MILF’s vision for
the final peace agreement was much broader, and included some
details about a “state-within-a-state” model for the new
Muslim autonomous region under the Philippine Constitution.
The territory would be governed by a parliamentary system
with sectoral representatives for all constituencies residing
within its boundaries, including non-Muslim indigenous
tribes. Members of parliament would elect a “Chief
Minister,” and the MILF would appoint a governor to lead the
executive branch. A judiciary based on Shari’a (Islamic law)
would form the third branch of government.

INTERNATIONAL CONTACT GROUP PLAYS A ROLE
—————————————-

¶6. (C) The International Contact Group (ICG) members were
present at the talks and, according to Chairman Seguis and
The Asia Foundation Country Director Steven Rood (protect),
they played a useful role in supporting the procedural
aspects of the negotiations, particularly after the
disappointed MILF panel members declined to meet in the same
room with their government counterparts. During the
proximity talks, the Malaysian Facilitator Datuk Othman and
ICG members shuttled between the two rooms to encourage the
two sides to keep communicating.

COMMENT
——-

¶7. (C) While the two parties did not make any breakthroughs
at the talks, their commitment to meet again in February
underscores how each side is aiming for some sort of concrete
achievement before President Arroyo leaves office. However,
each side appears to believe they have an upper hand in
negotiations, perceiving the other side to be more pressed by
time — and constituencies — to substantiate progress in the
talks. Seguis told the Charge it was in the MILF’s interest
to negotiate quickly, before a President more hostile to the
MILF could be elected. The MILF, for its part, has told
Embassy officials that the next generation of Muslim “Moro”
leaders are prepared to carry on their struggle, and the
peace talks, for as long as necessary to obtain the peace
agreement they feel they deserve. This brinkmanship makes
even an interim agreement problematic, despite continuing
U.S. and other international pressure on both parties.

BASSETT

   

 

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