Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/07/07MANILA2428.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA2428
2007-07-19 09:28
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO6959
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2428/01 2000928
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 190928Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7490
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002428

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, PM, AND EAP/MTS
USPACOM ALSO FOR FPA HUSO AND J5
SECDEF/OSD/ISA/AP (TOOLAN/REDMON)
JOINT STAFF/J5 (WILKES/ROBINSON/CLEMMONS)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/19/2017
TAGS: PTER MASS MOPS MCAP PREL RP
SUBJECT: AFP NEXT STEPS IN BASILAN AND JOLO OPERATIONS

REF: A. MANILA 2369
¶B. MANILA 2358
¶C. MANILA 2344

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. The senior leadership of Armed Forces of
the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command plans a measured
response to the July 10 Moro Islamic Liberation Front ambush
that killed 14 Philippine Marines on Basilan. They are at
the same time concerned by the concentration of senior Abu
Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists in the vicinity of
Moro National Liberation Front forces in the Indanan region
of western Jolo and are considering an amphibious landing to
disrupt the terrorists’ operations. Incoming Jolo Governor
Sakur Tan has reportedly created a favorable impression with
an emphasis on civil military operations and economic
development. END SUMMARY.

BRINGING THE PERPETRATORS
OF THE BASILAN ATTACK TO JUSTICE …
————————————

¶2. (C) During the Ambassador’s July 16 visit to Zamboanga
City she visited the Philippine Marines wounded in the bloody
July 10 encounter with elements of the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF) and separately discussed the incident
with the senior leadership of AFP’s Western Mindanao Command
(WESTMINCOM). Lieutenant General Cedo, deputy commander
Brigadier General Sabban and naval forces commander Rear
Admiral Marayag insisted that the AFP’s response to the death
of 14 Marines in the July 10 clash would be “measured and
disciplined.” LTG Cedo said his intent was to go after
specific targets, not to conduct a large-scale offensive,
despite pressure from Malacanang and a public clamor for
revenge.

… WHILE KEEPING
THE PEACE PROCESS ON TRACK
————————–

¶3. (C) Notwithstanding President Arroyo’s “fury” about the
incident, Cedo said he wanted to keep the peace process on
track and not provoke a tit-for-tat cycle of violence with
the MILF. Cedo observed that the MILF Central Committee did
not exercise effective control over its subordinate commands.
“They can’t give us a roster of their members on Basilan, or
even the number of their forces,” he stated. While Cedo
expressed confidence that the Basilan ambush would not derail
the peace process, he conceded that the next few days would
be critical. (According to press reports, Cedo has given the
MILF a one-week deadline beginning August 15 to surrender the
perpetrators of the attack and mutilation of the dead
Marines’ bodies.)

MORTAR DUDS SYMPTOMATIC
OF SYSTEMATIC LOGISTIC PROBLEMS
——————————-

¶4. (C) LTG Cedo admitted that the AFP had a systematic
problem with ammunition reliability due to improper storage
and rotation. The lot of mortar ammunition that the Basilan
Marines had used dated from the early 1980’s and had a
50-percent dud rate. A furious Cedo said, “Our procurement
system is broken and doesn’t work; I tell Manila I need
something immediately and I’ll get it in two years.” (JUSMAG
is working with its AFP counterparts to help them address the
ammunition storage issue.)

CAN’T ALLOW ASG AND JI TO REGROUP AND REFIT
——————————————-

¶5. (C) Turning to operations on Jolo, LTG Cedo and BG Sabban
both expressed concern that Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) bombers
Dulmatin and Umar Patek, as well as other high-value
terrorists, appeared to have found shelter in the vicinity of
a large Moro National Liberation Front force in the Indanan
region of western Jolo. (WESTMINCOM intelligence officers
separately speculated to their Joint Special Operations Task
Force counterparts that the JI and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) had
coalesced around Indanan to plan and train for future
operations.) Cedo and Sabban agreed that the JI and ASG
could not be allowed to regroup and refit, with Sabban
recommending that it was time for a modified amphibious

MANILA 00002428 002 OF 002

landing in the area, similar to the operation that launched
Operation Ultimatum in August 2006.

NEW JOLO GOVERNOR
CREATES A GOOD IMPRESSION
————————-

¶6. (C) LTG Cedo praised incoming Jolo Governor Sakur Tan,
singling out the new governor’s focus on civil-military
operations and desire to make the U.S.-constructed Area
Coordination Centers a key element in promoting economic
development. Cedo also noted that Tan had attacked the
problem of absentee mayors by issuing an order that none of
them could leave the island without his permission.
(Governor Tan will meet with Ambassador in Manila on July
20.)

COMMENT
——-

¶7. (C) Although LTG Cedo and his staff are trying to put on
a brave face, they appear shaken by the July 10 attack on the
Philippine Marines, which also inspired widespread public
outrage and media condemnations. WESTMINCOM is nonetheless
stretched thin. In addition to trying to bring the
perpetrators of the Basilan ambush to justice, LTG Cedo’s
forces are also heavily engaged on Jolo and in trying to
rescue kidnapped Italian priest Father Bossi. The commitment
of the Philippine government to proceeding carefully to
preserve positive elements of the peace process while seeking
justice against those who violate its spirit should help to
ensure a measured response that will not destroy the
accomplishments on the ground in Basilan and elsewhere over
the past five years, and will leave the door open for further
progress.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm
KENNEY

   

 

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