Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/10/09MANILA2110.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2110
2009-10-05 08:36
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002110

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2019
TAGS: PGOV KISL PTER PINS ASEC RP
SUBJECT: PEACE ADVISER OUTLINES STATUS OF PEACE TALKS WITH SEPARATISTS AND INSURGENTS

REF: MANILA 1980 (INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPATION IN
PEACE TALKS)

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Peace Process Adviser Secretary Avelino Razon
discussed with the Ambassador October 1 the state of progress
in the Philippine government’s three main peace processes
with separatist and insurgent groups. Talks with the
southern Philippines’ Muslim separatist group Moro Islamic
Liberation Front showed the most progress this year with the
signing of a ceasefire agreement, he noted, while talks on
fulfilling the terms of the 1996 peace agreement with the
Moro National Liberation Front were delayed by that group’s
internal rivalries. Peace negotiations with the communist
rebels of the National Democratic Front/New Peoples Army
showed some progress earlier this year, but were now mired in
disagreement about the content of negotiations and the recall
of outstanding arrest warrants for rebels. Secretary Razon,
while still an active manager of these peace processes,
seemed more focused on Manila’s relief efforts following
Tropical Storm Ondoy and on his upcoming campaign to become
the next mayor of Manila. End Summary.

MAKING PROGRESS WITH THE MILF
—————————–

¶2. (C) In an October 1 conversation with the Ambassador,
Peace Process Adviser Secretary Avelino Razon said that the
Philippine government made progress this year toward a
resumption of peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF), as illustrated by the signing of two agreements
instituting a ceasefire and endorsed creation of an
International Contact Group (ICG) — and by their combined
efforts to support the return of 300,000 internally displaced
persons back to their homes. Though optimistic about further
progress, he lamented that a final peace agreement in the
long term might not bring peace to Mindanao if MILF rogue
commanders such as Kato and Bravo decide to splinter off from
the main MILF group. Even if that were to happen, the
Ambassador reassured, it would still be important for the
Philippine government to make gains where possible, building
a stronger foundation for more permanent arrangements. The
Ambassador said the ICG agreement was a demonstration of
substantive progress, and the U.S. looked forward to learning
more about it.

MNLF INTERNAL RIVALRY DELAYS TALKS
———————————-

¶3. (C) Peace talks with the Moro National Liberation Front
(MNLF) on implementing the 1996 final peace agreement were
not likely to move forward, Razon noted, given the intense
rivalry between former and current MNLF chairmen for
leadership of the organization. Former MNLF Chairman Nur
Misuari, Razon said, continued to challenge Cotabato City
Mayor Muslimin Sema’s de facto leadership of the MNLF.
Misuari was engaged on a recruitment drive across Mindanao to
train new followers and consolidate his strength to prove
that he — not Mayor Sema — was in control of the group.
Post learned separately that Misuari, likely seeking support
for his position, held talks in August in Butuan City with a
Mindanao tribal government entity to encourage indigenous
groups to claim their ancestral lands as “autonomous regions.”

TALKS WITH COMMUNIST REBELS SCHEDULED
————————————-

¶4. (C) Secretary Razon said that talks with leaders of the
communist insurgent group National Democratic Front (NDF)/New
People’s Army (NPA), canceled in August, were being
rescheduled for October in Oslo, though he was not optimistic
the parties would make substantial progress. NDF Chief Peace
Negotiator Luis Jalandoni and exiled leader Jose Maria Sison
were serious negotiators, he said, but Benito Tiamzon and his
faction were not. Tiamzon’s group, in fact, was becoming
increasingly rigid in negotiations. Though Tiamzon
previously agreed to discuss the “end of hostilities” early
on in formal peace talks, he now apparently no longer
intended to address the issue at all. The NDF/NPA is seeking
a full removal of all warrants of arrest against its
personnel, which Razon said the Philippine government — and
the nation’s independent judiciary — could not agree to do.
The courts had already released several members from prison
for six-month periods as a gesture of good will to help
propel talks forward, and the government could not pressure

MANILA 00002110 002 OF 002

the courts to do much more beyond that.

SEEKING THE MAYOR’S OFFICE
————————–

¶5. (C) Though still involved in these different peace talks,
Razon seemed more focused on his anticipated November 20
declaration of candidacy to run for Mayor of Manila in the
May 2010 elections, in which he is expected to compete
against his friends incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim and former
Manila Mayor Jose Atienza. Aware that disaster response
could become a campaign issue, Razon said he assisted relief
efforts in Manila after Tropical Storm Ondoy devastated the
city, and thanked the Ambassador for the extensive U.S.
support during this crisis. Offering help in a crisis like
this one, the Ambassador consoled, is precisely what
partnership between friends is all about.

COMMENT
——-

¶6. (C) As Peace Process Adviser since February, when he was
pulled out of retirement, Secretary Razon has had little time
to cultivate a more influential role for himself within
President Arroyo’s cabinet. He is one of many senior
officials to advise the President on the sensitive political
questions surrounding the MILF peace talks, and has been
overshadowed by the more pronounced role of Foreign Affairs
Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, who is directly involved in
MILF negotiations. Secretary Razon’s leadership qualities —
praised during his two years at the helm of the Philippine
National Police — have been less apparent in his current
role. Nonetheless, to Razon’s credit, the small but
ambitious Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process (OPAPP) that he leads has helped to move the
Philippine government’s three primary peace negotiations
further along despite many challenges. OPAPP Undersecretary
Nabil Tan, brother of Jolo’s Governor Abdusakur Tan, is
expected to take charge of OPAPP ad interim after Razon files
his candidacy on November 20 to run for Mayor of Manila.
Though the large banners in the city with Secretary Razon’s
smiling face urge citizens to “Support the Peace Process,”
they are also a clear reminder that Secretary Razon has
already set his sights on the next endeavor.
KENNEY

   

 

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