Oct 262014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2009-07-01 10:27
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Manila

DE RUEHML #1397/01 1821027
O 011027Z JUL 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001397



E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/30/2019

REF: STATE 66749

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In a wide-ranging July 1 breakfast meeting,
the Ambassador asked that Philippine Foreign Secretary
Alberto Romulo press ASEAN to enlist Burmese cooperation on
North Korean ship inspections, and Secretary Romulo requested
a meeting with Secretary Clinton to discuss greater
U.S.-ASEAN cooperation at the ARF Ministerial this month in
Thailand. The Ambassador was frank in expressing
apprehension over the circumstances of tens of thousands of
civilians displaced as a result of ongoing combat operations
by Philippine government forces against rogue Muslim
insurgents in Mindanao. Romulo aired his continued unease at
upcoming hearings on the Visiting Forces Agreement in the
Philippine Senate, and suggested that clarification of the
VFA’s language on detention of those convicted would remove a
point of concern that activists have used to agitate against
the VFA. The two lauded effective cooperation on recent
high-profile extradition cases, and the Ambassador raised an
American citizen’s allegations of abduction and torture at
the hands of individuals said to be acting on behalf of
Philippine security forces. END SUMMARY.

Burma’s Response to UNSCR 1874 — and ASEAN’s Role
——————————————— —–

¶2. (C) The Ambassador handed over Secretary Clinton’s letter
thanking Secretary Romulo for hosting the highly successful
ASEAN Regional Forum disaster-relief exercise, and offering
the Secretary’s regrets at being unable to accept the
Philippines’ invitation to visit the country this summer.
Turning to other ASEAN issues, the Ambassador welcomed
Burma’s pledge to abide by UN Security Council Resolution
1874 and inspect the cargo of the North Korean freighter Kang
Nam 1 (reftel). She asked Romulo to encourage the
Philippines’ ASEAN partners to take a greater role in
engaging Burma on this and other issues, emphasizing the
importance of urging Burma to include a third party in any
inspection of the DPRK vessel’s cargo. Romulo concurred, and
noting the importance of U.S. accession to ASEAN’s Treaty of
Amity and Cooperation, and the Philippines’ upcoming role as
ASEAN’s dialogue partner with the United States, requested a
meeting with Secretary Clinton at the upcoming ASEAN Regional
Forum Ministerial to be held July 21-23 in Phuket, Thailand.
The Ambassador welcomed the proposal and said she would pass
the request back to Washington with her strong support.

Goals of Possible Washington Visit

¶3. (C) The discussion turned to Philippine President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo’s hoped-for July visit to Washington, which
Romulo saw as an opportunity to underscore how the
Philippines’ status as a strong regional partner offered an
opportunity for progress on regional issues such as Burma and
North Korea. The Ambassador agreed, adding that the USG
would likely also wish to discuss counterterrorism
cooperation, violence in Mindanao and its ramifications for
internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the stalled peace
process, plus the larger picture of progress on human rights
— particularly extrajudicial killings — and efforts to
address corruption. Romulo agreed, and expressed his hope
that any Washington visit would also afford Arroyo a chance
to meet several key USG cabinet secretaries.

Concern for Those Displaced by Mindanao Violence
——————————————— —

¶4. (C) In discussing Mindanao in greater detail, the
Ambassador expressed concern that tens of thousands of
internally displaced persons will soon mark one year of
having left behind their homes and livelihoods due to
fighting between Philippine security forces and rogue MILF
elements. Foreign Secretary Romulo wondered aloud whether
many such refugees were simply availing themselves of the
feeding programs and other limited assistance being offered
by the Philippine government and international community, and
speculated that President Arroyo’s opponents were using the
IDP issue as political propaganda. The Ambassador strongly
disagreed, and observed that, in having visited IDP camps in
Mindanao, she could attest that those displaced by the
fighting genuinely feared for their own security, but wanted
to go home, and that the poor Mindanao communities where the
camps were located could ill afford to support such numbers
of people for an extended period.

MANILA 00001397 002 OF 002

¶5. (C) The Ambassador questioned whether it still made sense
for the Philippine government to continue prosecuting the
fight against rogue MILF elements to the fullest, given the
negative consequences for the civilian population, the
stalled peace process with the MILF, and the combat
capabilities of the Philippine armed forces, which was using
up increasingly scarce resources. She urged the Foreign
Secretary to intensify efforts to restart the stalled peace
process, with an immediate goal of reinstating the ceasefire
and dispute-resolution mechanisms which had proven successful
in the past. Even if a comprehensive peace agreement might
prove elusive during President Arroyo’s remaining months in
office, a resumption of good-faith peace talks with the MILF
could still yield vital progress in restoring people’s lives
and livelihoods to some semblance of normalcy.

Worries Over VFA Hearings in Senate

¶6. (C) Secretary Romulo voiced his continuing deep concern
over hearings likely to be held in August by the Philippine
Senate on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), noting that
with campaigning already well underway for the May 2010
presidential election, several prospective candidates in the
Senate would likely turn the VFA into a campaign issue and
even call for its abrogation. Romulo thanked the Ambassador
for the array of information the Embassy had provided on the
VFA’s benefits, and remarked that he would appreciate
continued close cooperation as the hearings approached.

¶7. (C) The Foreign Secretary recalled how the successful
resolution of the long-simmering criminal case against Marine
Lance Corporal Daniel Smith had pointed up the success of the
VFA, and he voiced his strong support for its continued
application. He noted, however, one key area of the VFA in
which greater clarification was needed — the exact nature
and location of the detention facility under Philippine
jurisdiction where any convicted U.S. military personnel
would be held once all judicial appeals were exhausted and a
guilty verdict upheld. The Ambassador took note of this
point and replied that the Mission would engage legal counsel
of appropriate USG agencies in Washington.

Extraditions, American Citizen’s Case

¶8. (C) The Ambassador noted with approval the successful
extradition of former police superintendent Cezar Mancao and
the likely early extradition of his former PNP colleague
Glenn Dumlao, both of whom are linked to a high-profile 2000
double murder case. She offered thanks for the excellent
cooperation offered in the U.S. extradition request for Abu
Sayyaf Group terrorist Hatta Haipe, and pushed hard for early
DFA action in reviewing the request so that the extradition
could proceed. Lastly, in discussing U.S.-Philippine law
enforcement cooperation in human rights cases, she raised the
case of American citizen Melissa Roxas, who alleges that she
was abducted and tortured in May by masked persons Roxas
believed to be Philippine security personnel. The Ambassador
stressed that the Embassy takes seriously the safety and
security of Americans, and would welcome any new information
that may become available in the case, adding that cases such
as Roxas’s would likely attract the attention of media and
human rights NGOs during President Arroyo’s upcoming visit to
Washington. Romulo offered to obtain more information on the
Roxas case, and added that the Philippines was working hard
to ensure respect for essential human rights that all members
of a democratic society deserve.



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