Oct 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/12/07MANILA4016.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA4016
2007-12-21 10:03
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO7546
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #4016/01 3551003
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 211003Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9259
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 004016

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/22/2017
TAGS: PREL PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: SNAG IN MILF PEACE TALKS

REF: A. MANILA 3852 (METHODICAL PROGRESS IN MINDANAO
PEACE TALKS)
¶B. MANILA 3728 (MINDANAO PEACE PROCESS MOVES FORWARD)
¶C. MANILA 3676 (MUSLIM INSURGENT CHAIRMAN WELCOMES
USG SUPPORT)
¶D. MANILA 3509 (GOVERNMENT AND MILF BREAK IMPASSE
ON TERRITORY)
¶E. MANILA 3393 (NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR VIEWS WAY
FORWARD)

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

¶1. (C) Summary: In the aftermath of postponed peace
negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Kuala Lumpur last weekend,
the Ambassador spoke with key Cabinet officials December
20-21 to underscore USG support for the Mindanao peace
process and encourage the government to continue its efforts
to overcome current difficulties and move on to the next
phase of negotiations. The Kuala Lumpur talks were intended
to produce an agreement on the territory and resources to be
allotted to an expanded Muslim political entity in Mindanao.
But this round of talks broke down over the government’s
proposal to include specific reference to a plebiscite in
Mindanao to confirm the new political entity when a final
peace deal is reached. Top Philippine officials reiterated
to the Ambassador the government’s strong intention to find a
way out of the current impasse, which evokes a similar hiccup
in September that was overcome through a concerted effort on
both sides. The snag in the talks coincides with a recent
up-tick in fighting on Basilan between Philippine forces and
a combined force of Abu Sayyaf fighters and MILF insurgents.
End Summary.

¶2. (C) The Ambassador reached out to key Cabinet and military
officials December 20-21 to reiterate strong U.S. support for
the peace process in Mindanao, and received assurances that
the government was taking steps to seek a resolution to the
differences with the MILF. Palace Executive Secretary
Ermita, Defense Secretary Teodoro, Presidential Peace Advisor
Dureza, and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Esperon all reassured
the Ambassador that the government remained firmly committed
to the peace process. The Ambassador was told that President
Arroyo already had held one Cabinet meeting on the issue and
would convene another session early in the new year, with the
goal of formulating new language that could bridge the
differences with the MILF.

¶3. (C) President Arroyo publicly reaffirmed her strong
commitment to the negotiation process in remarks December 21
for Philippine Armed Forces Day. The Ambassador attended the
ceremony in which Arroyo voiced optimism that negotiators
could overcome the current barriers and reach a final peace
deal. She also stressed her commitment to using both “soft”
and “hard” power to resolve the situation in Mindanao, and
praised the significant role foreign assistance had played in
improving the situation for Mindanao residents. After the
ceremony, the president thanked the Ambassador for the U.S.
government’s quick and strong message of support during the
recent incident in which a Philippine Senator and an Army
brigadier general briefly took over a luxury hotel and called
for the president’s ouster.

——————-
Peace Talks Delayed
——————-

¶4. (C) A planned round of peace talks between the Philippine
government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were
called off in Kuala Lumpur December 15 after the MILF
objected to the government’s proposed wording in a draft
agreement on territory and resource sharing. Chief
negotiator Rodolfo Garcia told the DCM that the main problem
was the government’s inclusion of an explicit reference to
the constitutional process of holding a plebiscite after the
final peace agreement to confirm the creation of an enlarged
Muslim political entity in Mindanao. While the MILF tacitly
understood that the government needed to hold plebiscites,
Garcia said, it had long objected to explicit references to
constitutional processes, since it does not accept that the
constitution should limit its negotiations with the
government. Moreover, plebiscites held after the 1996 peace
accord with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) failed
to fully implement that agreement.

¶5. (C) According to Garcia, the latest government proposal
contained different language than the draft proposal sent to
the MILF a week prior to the planned December 15-17 talks.

MANILA 00004016 002 OF 002

Garcia noted that “conservative” senior members of the
Cabinet security cluster modified some of the language in the
proposed territorial agreement, including the insertion of a
clause on the necessity for a constitutional process which
was rejected outright by the MILF. According to Garcia, the
MILF has repeatedly referred to the existence of a
“gentleman’s agreement” with the Philippine government dating
back to 1997, on the basis of which the government would make
no reference to a “constitutional requirement,” while the
MILF would omit any references to seeking “independence.”
Consequently, the MILF refused to proceed with the
negotiations in Kuala Lumpur, and issued a December 15 press
statement blaming “spoilers of the peace process right at the
corridors of power.” The MILF was careful to note, however,
that the “spoilers” operated without the knowledge of
President Arroyo.

—————————-
Differences over Terminology
—————————-

¶6. (C) Garcia’s deputy, Ryan Sullivan, said that the
government and MILF also differed over the meaning of basic
terms in the proposed agreement such as “ownership of natural
resources.” In the government’s view, all strategic minerals
under the land and water, including petroleum and natural
gas, were state-owned based on the Constitution. In the
MILF’s view, however, the Bangsamoro people “collectively
owned” these natural resources by virtue of historical
ownership and rights. Sullivan expected negotiations to
resume once another draft proposal on territory was approved
by the Cabinet, but Sullivan commented that the timetable for
the signing of a territorial agreement in January 2008 may no
longer be realistic.

————————–
Violence Flares on Basilan
————————–

¶7. (C) Meanwhile, fighting broke out December 17 on Basilan
between Philippine Marines and a combined force of Abu Sayyaf
Group extremists and MILF insurgents. Six Muslim fighters
and two Philippine soldiers were killed in the battle, which
lasted more than 24 hours. The Marines initially went to the
area to pursue armed groups suspected of firing several shots
at a U.S. contract helicopter on December 17 and to carry out
a dialogue with civilians. According to Brigadier General
Juancho Sabban of the Western Mindanao Command, the Marines
were planning to meet with MILF and barangay officials,
because the site is where military humanitarian projects are
to be implemented in January. Sabban suspected MILF
involvement because the insurgent attacks included mortars,
which the Abu Sayyaf reportedly does not have in their
arsenal. In July, a group of MILF and Abu Sayyaf members
ambushed a Marine convoy in the same area, beheading 10
Marines and kindling a round of fighting on Basilan. The
military said it had contained the fighters in the area and
that it was planning to file a protest against the MILF for
violation of the ceasefire with the government.

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

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.