Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/02/08MANILA515.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA515
2008-02-29 05:54
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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DE RUEHML #0515/01 0600554
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 290554Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9932
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC 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 000515

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/28/2018
TAGS: MARR MASS MCAP PREL RP
SUBJECT: ADMIRAL KEATING EMPHASIZES STRONG TIES DURING VISIT TO PHILIPPINES

REF: MANILA 426

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

¶1. (C) Summary: During his visit to the Philippines
February 25-26, PACOM Commander Admiral Timothy Keating
joined the Ambassador to meet with Philippine Chief of Staff
of the Armed Forces General Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. and
visited a civil-military operations project as part of the
annual U.S.-Philippine Balikatan joint military exercise.
Admiral Keating reiterated his firm support for the
Philippine Armed Forces, emphasizing the strength of the
U.S.-Philippine relationship and voicing his commitment to
help the Philippines’ military reform efforts and their fight
against terrorists. The Admiral congratulated Esperon on
recent successes, including the discovery of suspected
remains of Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist and Bali bomber
Dulmatin and the arrest of key Jemaah Islamiyah member Latif.
Esperon stressed that despite recent rumblings of instability
that could involve military units, the armed forces were
firmly in support of constitutional processes as remedies for
political disputes and that civil society must shoulder the
burden for political reform and not involve the military.
General Esperon was effusive in his appreciation for U.S.
assistance, including DNA analysis on the possible Dulmatin
samples, and highlighted key programs such as noncommissioned
officer development, Coast Watch South, and sustaining the
newly formed National Development Support Command in securing
peace throughout the Philippines. End Summary.

——————————————-
U.S. PLAYING A ROLE IN PHILIPPINE SUCCESSES
——————————————-

¶2. (C) PACOM Commander Admiral Timothy Keating visited the
Philippines February 25-26 and joined the Ambassador to meet
with Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. to discuss U.S.-Philippine
cooperation focused on reforming the Philippine military and
improving its ability to defeat terrorists in the south. The
Ambassador congratulated General Esperon on weathering a
difficult period over the last several weeks when many media
reports had suggested that elements of the military might
challenge political authority amid continuing calls for
President Arroyo to resign (septel). Esperon said that it
had been a rough period, but that he was proud of his
commanders and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for their
commitment to upholding the Philippine Constitution. Esperon
said he and his commanders had been saying, “We tell people,
‘Why do you want us to intervene? If we intervene, democracy
suffers.’ We achieved democracy, so let’s allow the system to
work. Civil society should take care of itself.”

¶3. (C) Admiral Keating said recent successes, including the
arrest of key Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist Latif on February 17
and the recovery of remains suspected to be those of Bali
bomber and Jemaah Islamiyah member Dulmatin on February 18
(reftel), point to an ever-improving Philippine capability to
locate and interdict terrorist threats. General Esperon
agreed the Philippine military was scoring significant hits
against terrorists and expressed his gratitude to the Admiral
for U.S. military and intelligence assistance, saying “we
have a good system in place and are able to react quickly to
the information we are receiving. Sometimes the people find
it hard to believe in the efficiency of our operations, but
they don’t realize how well things are working.”

¶4. (C) Citing successes on the islands of Jolo and Sulu,
Esperon said that the Philippine military would now begin to
focus on Tawi-Tawi island, which was the site of several
recent Philippine operations in which Abu Sayaaf Group
terrorists and possibly Dulmatin and other Jemaah Islamiyah
terrorists were killed. Esperon thanked Admiral Keating and
the Ambassador for U.S. assistance in analyzing DNA samples
taken from the suspected Dulamatin remains and said he hoped
it would yield positive results. The Admiral responded that
it was a joint effort between the Philippines and the United
States and that it was critical the tests be conducted
correctly.

———————
TRAINING STILL NEEDED
———————

¶5. (C) Esperon went on to highlight key programs such as

MANILA 00000515 002 OF 002

noncommissioned officer development, the border radar system
being developed under Coast Watch South, and the
strengthening of the newly formed National Development
Support Command as vital to the military’s long-term success
in securing peace throughout the Philippines. With U.S.
assistance, the Philippines has established a sergeant-major
academy program and is training senior noncommissioned
officers to be an integral part of the command structure of
the Philippine military. Esperon also thanked Admiral
Keating for U.S. support, through 1206 funding, of the Coast
Watch South program, which will enhance border security in
the southern Philippines through a system of radars,
communications, equipment, and patrol assets. Regarding the
Philippine military’s increasing focus on civil-military
operations, Esperon indicated that a top priority was
increased resources for the National Development Support
Command, which has nationwide responsibility for humanitarian
and civil affairs programs to improve the infrastructure and
economic conditions in areas prone to terrorist recruitment.
Esperon said that the Philippine armed forces were still in
need of training to achieve their goals under Philippine
Defense Reform, specifically in the areas of procurement and
proficiency testing. Esperon added that the Philippines
would like to implement a national training and testing
program similar to the U.S. military’s Combined Arms
Readiness Training.

——————————————— ————–
SCHOOL VISIT SHOWCASES CIVIL AFFAIRS COMPONENT OF BALIKATAN
——————————————— ————–

¶6. (SBU) As part of Admiral Keating’s visit, he went with
the Ambassador and General Esperon to see a engineering civil
affairs project where U.S. Marines from the 31st Marine
Expeditionary Unit and their Filipino counterparts rebuilt a
high school that had been destroyed by fire. The project was
conducted as part of the annual U.S.-Philippine Balikatan
joint military exercise. Touring the site and meeting some
of the 1500 students who had been crowded into inadequate
facilities after the fire, Admiral Keating and the Ambassador
briefly took part in some of the refurbishment activities,
after which Admiral Keating addressed the students and
teachers saying, “Balikatan is of critical importance to us
at the United States Pacific Command. It symbolizes the
friendship that is the very centerpiece of our strategy
throughout the Pacific, and there is no stronger partner for
the United States and the United States military than the
Republic of the Philippines.”

¶7. (U) Admiral Keating did not have a chance to clear this
cable before departing Manila.

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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