Oct 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/01/08MANILA238.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA238
2008-01-29 09:01
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO3631
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0238/01 0290901
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 290901Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9535
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000238

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2018
TAGS: PREL PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT ARROYO REVISES MILF PEACE PROPOSAL AS MINDANAO POLITICAL FIGURES MANEUVER

REF: A. 07 MANILA 4016 (SNAG IN MILF PEACE TALKS)
¶B. 07 MANILA 3852 (METHODICAL PROGRESS IN MINDANAO
PEACE TALKS)
¶C. 07 MANILA 3728 (MINDANAO PEACE PROCESS MOVES
FORWARD)

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

¶1. (C) Summary: In hopes of resuming peace talks with the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Philippine government has
prepared a revised draft territorial agreement that omits
references to the issue of governance — references to which
the MILF had strenuously objected. The proposal will be
formally presented to the MILF during an executive session in
Kuala Lumpur, tentatively scheduled for February 7. While
waiting for negotiations to resume, Muslim political figures
are gearing up for planned August 2008 elections within the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Chief among
them is regional governor Zaldy Ampatuan, who is eager to
maintain power. He is actively lobbying for President
Arroyo’s support to be the Administration’s sole candidate
should the planned gubernatorial race take place, but also
pushing for a postponement of the elections, which would also
result in extending his rule. Separately, the Moro National
Liberation Front’s legal counsel is mobilizing support for a
newly established Moro Party to carve out a future political
stake in Mindanao. Beneath the public story of stalled peace
talks, intensive political maneuvering in Muslim Mindanao is
likely to increase over the next several months. End Summary.

———————-
Revised Draft Proposal
———————-

¶2. (C) According to government peace panel director Ryan
Sullivan, President Arroyo provided “categorical clearance”
for a draft territorial agreement with the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF) that omits all references to the
issue of how a future Muslim political entity would be
governed. The Philippine cabinet’s insistence on including
the governance issue in a draft agreement earlier this month
caused planned January 15 talks to break down (ref A). At
President Arroyo’s direction, the government peace panel
submitted a revised draft proposal to Malaysian negotiators
just prior to President Arroyo’s January 22 departure to
Switzerland for the World Economic Summit. Sullivan said
government and MILF negotiators would be discussing the
proposal during an executive session in Kuala Lumpur and/or
through “shuttle diplomacy” by the Malaysian facilitator as
early as February 7. There must be a meeting of minds before
exploratory talks can resume, commented Sullivan,
underscoring the importance of “shelving” the contentious
issue of governance until after a territorial agreement is
signed. “Frontloading” the governance issue would needlessly
complicate this incremental negotiation process with the
MILF, noted Sullivan.

——————————————— —
Governor Ampatuan Maneuvering to Remain in Power
——————————————— —

¶3. (C) Meanwhile, an executive assistant to Autonomous
Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan told
poloff that Ampatuan, head of Mindanao’s most powerful
political family, is hoping to gain political capital from
the impasse in the MILF peace talks. Despite Ampatuan’s
public statements supporting the resumption of the
negotiations, Ampatuan remains firmly opposed to the signing
of an MILF peace pact, convinced that such an agreement would
result in the cancellation of the scheduled gubernatorial and
Regional Legislative Assembly elections in the ARMM during
August 2008, and the replacement of his administration with a
transitional council, according to the executive assistant.
During a January 15 meeting with President Arroyo and members
of the National Security Council, Ampatuan blamed the MILF
for a recent outbreak of sporadic armed skirmishes in central
Mindanao. Ampatuan also submitted a resolution signed by
municipal councilmen in his native province of Maguindanao
accusing the MILF of violating its 2003 cease-fire agreement
with the government, according to the executive assistant.

——————-
Dual-Track Strategy
——————-

¶4. (C) ARMM Manila Liaison Office director Muslimin Bansuan
said Ampatuan appears to be pursuing a dual-track strategy to
remain as governor until at least 2010. Ampatuan, along with

MANILA 00000238 002 OF 002

41 Muslim political and traditional leaders, began appealing
to President Arroyo last November to “anoint” Ampatuan as the
Administration’s sole candidate for regional governor in the
August 2008 ARMM elections, noted Bansuan. On a separate
track, Ampatuan has been maneuvering to postpone the August
2008 elections, thereby leaving himself as governor for
another two years. Either way, Ampatuan would achieve his
goal of remaining in power, said Bansuan.

—————————————–
Formation of a New Muslim Political Party
—————————————–

¶5. (C) Meanwhile, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)
Legal Counsel Ferdausi Abbas is organizing a new Muslim
political party — the Moro Party — in preparation for the
August 2008 ARMM elections. “The Moro Party wants to show
there are Muslims who can be trusted and who know what
democracy is,” said MNLF attorney Ombra Jainal. Jainal said
the Moro Party’s leadership is currently composed of Party
Chairman Abbas, Tawi Tawi Provincial Party chairman Sulay
Halip, and Palawan Provincial Party Chairman Ali Babao.
According to Jainal, former Jolo councilman Termogen “Cocoy”
Tulawie is under consideration to serve as Sulu Provincial
Party chairman. The party chairmen for Basilan, Zamboanga
Peninsula, and central Mindanao have yet to be determined,
said Jainal.

————————————
Mobilizing Support With No Illusions
————————————

¶6. (C) Jainal noted that Moro Party chairman Abbas has been
mobilizing support for the new political party in Muslim
communities throughout Luzon. Abbas embarked on an overland
trip from Luzon to Mindanao January 17 to reach out to
Muslims in other parts of the Philippines. Jainal described
the Moro Party’s expectations for its candidates in the
August 2008 ARMM elections as “modest.” Jainal hoped that at
least two or three Moro Party candidates could win seats in
the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly to help shape policy.
Governor Ampatuan will do everything in his power to defeat
the Moro Party if it poses a real threat to his power base,
commented Jainal.

——-
Comment
——-

¶7. (C) Political maneuvering in Muslim Mindanao is intense,
and likely to increase, as various political and insurgent
factions position themselves for a possible peace agreement
between the government and MILF. While the public story
remains focused on stalled peace talks, much more is going on
behind the scenes, with President Arroyo continuing to press
for a peace agreement as one of her legacies.

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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