Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2010/02/10MANILA350.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10MANILA350
2010-02-19 08:44
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6655
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 000350

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/20/2010
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: PEACE TALKS FACILITATOR SAYS PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT, MILF INTENT ON INTERIM AGREEMENT

REF: MANILA 251 (PARTIES SHARE DRAFT PEACE ACCORDS
BUT POSITIONS ARE FAR APART)

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The Malaysian facilitator for peace talks
between the Philippine government and the insurgent Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) told the Charge d’Affaires
February 18 that the parties had agreed to pursue an interim
agreement before the end of President Arroyo’s term, in lieu
of a more extensive comprehensive pact, in an effort to
commit the next Philippine administration to a prescribed
course toward a negotiated peace settlement. Facilitator
Datuk Othman Bin Abdul Razak told the Charge there would
still be challenges in negotiating an interim agreement, but
the parties were intent on progress by the end of June. The
mechanisms supporting the peace process, notably the
International Contact Group and the International Monitoring
team, added value and confidence to the peace talks, Othman
noted, although he criticized the Philippine government for
lacking creativity. Othman suggested the U.S., to support
the peace process, could support the creation of a management
institute to train future Moro leaders, and increase support
to internally displaced persons (IDPs).

¶2. (C) SUMMARY CONTINUED: Separately, a Philippine official
told Poloff the government received a draft interim agreement
from the MILF outlining a path to autonomy, which the
official described as a “creative solution” that was more
realistic than the MILF’s initial peace proposal (reftel).
The new text provides for an MILF-led “Transition Council”
operating over a six-year period while GRP-MILF joint teams
negotiate a comprehensive peace agreement, including
contentious territorial and constitutional issues. The
official said the government seeks a meeting with the MILF
the week of March 1 in Kuala Lumpur to ask questions about
the draft text, and aims to formulate a counterproposal by
the end of March. END SUMMARY.

PARTIES INTENT ON NEGOTIATING INTERIM AGREEMENT
——————————————— —

¶3. (C) At a February 18 breakfast meeting with the Charge
d’Affaires, the Malaysian facilitator for the Philippine
government and MILF peace talks, Datuk Othman Bin Abdul
Razak, said that the parties had agreed to pursue an interim
agreement before the end of President Arroyo’s term in an
effort to commit the next Philippine administration to a
prescribed course toward a negotiated peace settlement.
While Othman acknowledged there would still be challenges in
negotiating an interim agreement, he said he and the parties
were nonetheless intent on achieving what progress they could
by the end of June. The parties had originally intended to
meet in Kuala Lumpur the week of February 18-19, he said, but
the MILF asked to postpone the meeting to ensure that the
International Monitoring Team (IMT) would redeploy to
Mindanao before the end of this month, as the MILF had
previously demanded. The Charge thanked Othman for his
perseverance and creativity, noting that he played a vital
role in helping to bring the two sides back to the
negotiating table during a very difficult period. The U.S.
appreciated and supported Malaysia’s role as facilitator, the
Charge continued, and did not seek to duplicate Malaysia’s
efforts. Othman expressed appreciation for the Charge’s
comments, and said he was uncertain what role Malaysia would
play in peace talks after the next Philippine administration
takes over.

BINDING THE NEW PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT TO THE PROCESS
——————————————— ——

¶4. (C) Othman said he was seeking to “commit the next
Philippine administration to a process” that would ensure the
government’s cooperation in peace negotiations, regardless of
the outcome of the May national elections. He said it was
important to maintain the “negotiating infrastructure” that
the parties had developed thus far, primarily the IMT and the
International Contact Group (ICG), which were helping to
build confidence among the parties. The ICG, in particular,
possessed a moral authority that both parties could respect
— and without which there could have been a walkout during
the January talks. The two parties should remain creative in
their approaches, he said, and the international community
should continue to support them. The Charge noted that
Secretary Clinton delivered a strong message of support to

MANILA 00000350 002 OF 003

the parties during her November visit to the Philippines,
encouraging them not to miss a chance for peace.

CRITICIZING PHILIPPINES FOR ITS LACK OF INITIATIVE
——————————————— —–

¶5. (C) While pleased that the parties were continuing to
engage each other, Othman nonetheless criticized the
Philippine government for its lack of initiative on peace
talks and in resolving the internally displaced persons
(IDPs) situation in Mindanao. The government, he said,
demonstrated a lack of creativity in negotiations and was not
interested in learning from other peace processes, unlike the
MILF, which had learned much from the Northern Ireland
example. The U.S., he suggested, could help the Philippine
government be more flexible and creative in negotiations.
Othman further criticized the Philippine government for
neglecting the needs of the remaining IDPs in Mindanao, many
of whom still had no livelihoods to return to. The Charge
said that the U.S. remained concerned about IDPs, and would
look at ways to augment existing U.S. relief programs.

SEEKING U.S. SUPPORT FOR TRAINING CENTER
—————————————-

¶6. (C) Asked how the U.S. might provide additional support to
the peace process, Othman suggested that the U.S. could
“build capacity” by helping to create a leadership and
management institute for future Moro leaders, a concept he
said President Arroyo had promised but failed to support, and
that he had pitched unsuccessfully to the international donor
community. Capacity-building should be in parallel to peace
negotiations, he said, to avoid the mistakes made in the late
1990s by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) when
Governor Nur Misuari led the Autonomous Region of Muslim
Mindanao. The MNLF had failed to govern properly, Othman
said, and Misuari neglected his governance duties.

MILF PROPOSES AN INTERIM AGREEMENT
———————————-

¶7. (C) In a separate February 18 meeting with Poloff,
Philippine Peace Panel Director Ryan Sullivan said the
government received and was reviewing a draft interim
agreement from the MILF. (He provided the text, which we
have scanned and emailed to EAP/MTS.) The draft text
outlined a three-phase path to Moro autonomy through a
pre-interim period, an interim period, and an implementation
period. The text provides for the creation of an MILF-led
“Transition Council” that would operate over six-and-a-half
years and exercise its authority through executive bodies
with administrative powers on education and culture, social
welfare and health, agriculture and agrarian infrastructure,
public works and transportation, as well as trade, industry,
and taxation. A separate set of GRP-MILF “priority joint
task teams” would simultaneously negotiate the components of
a comprehensive peace agreement, including the contentious
issues of territory, resources, finances, and constitutional
reform — in effect outsourcing the most difficult subjects
to technical teams. The MILF’s draft text would commit the
government to move toward amending the Philippine
Constitution, but stops short of requiring this — a
modification of the MILF’s earlier position, likely intended
to address GRP concerns about circumventing constitutional
processes (reftel). The draft text also calls for the U.S.,
the EU, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and other
unspecified countries to participate in an Independent
Assessment Evaluation Mission to monitor implementation of
the interim agreement.

GRP TO REVIEW MILF’S “REALISTIC” PROPOSAL
—————————————–

¶8. (C) Sullivan said the government was seeking a meeting
with the MILF the week of March 1 in Kuala Lumpur to ask
about the MILF’s draft text, and would aim to formulate a
counterproposal by the end of March. Sullivan described the
MILF proposal as a “creative solution” more based in reality
than the MILF’s detailed proposal in January for a
comprehensive compact. The government was particularly
pleased to see the MILF drop its outright demand for
constitutional reform to establish a federal/state
relationship with the new autonomous region, although
Sullivan said that the GRP would still aim to pass
constitutional reforms by the end of the six-year interim
period. With regard to the governance of the autonomous

MANILA 00000350 003 OF 003

region, Sullivan also noted that the MILF would not require
elections for a Bangsamoro Assembly until the implementation
period (although this is not explicitly described in the
MILF’s draft text). The MILF would have governing authority
for “essential responsibilities” during the interim period,
Sullivan said, at which time it would likely bring in outside
experts to help it manage the region’s affairs.

COMMENT
——-

¶9. (C) Othman’s determined effort to keep negotiations moving
forward — which he said he would continue right up until the
new Philippine administration takes over — appears to have
helped the parties’ sustain their interest in negotiation.
Visibly tired and mumbling, Othman did not come across as
decidedly optimistic or pessimistic about the peace talks in
the coming months. Instead, through his soft-spoken manner,
he seemed resigned to the prospect that, despite difficulties
and uncertainty, he would remain closely engaged in moving
the parties toward a substantive interim agreement, which
they appeared intent on negotiating.
BASSETT

   

 

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