Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/03/08MANILA664.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA664
2008-03-14 09:11
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO4777
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0664/01 0740911
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 140911Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0145
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 000664

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2018
TAGS: MARR MASS MCAP PREL RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND PHILIPPINE ARMED FORCES CHIEF OF STAFF DISCUSS SUCCESSES, REMAINING CHALLENGES

REF: A. MANILA 521 (ANTI-ARROYO PROTESTS LACK CRITICAL

MASS)
¶B. MANILA 426 (POSSIBLE REMAINS OF TERRORIST
DULMATIN)
¶C. MANILA 360 (EMBASSY WORKING TO KEEP BALIKATAN ON
TRACK)

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The Ambassador and Philippine armed forces
chief General Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. met privately on March
13, broadly discussing successes during Esperon’s tenure.
They also addressed some key challenges, including locating
remaining high-value terrorists, maintaining an apolitical
posture among security forces as critics maneuver against the
Arroyo administration, ensuring the peace process with the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front continues, and evaluating how
U.S.-Philippine military cooperation can deepen and continue
to provide mutually valuable results. Esperon reiterated his
gratitude for U.S. support in the fight against terrorism and
in assisting the Philippine Armed Forces to implement reform
efforts. Looking forward, Esperon said he was proud of the
direction the Philippine military was taking and that new
cadets were exhibiting a degree of professionalism that bodes
well for the future of the country. END SUMMARY.

PRESSING THE FIGHT, PROMOTING PEACE
———————————–

¶2. (C) During a private breakfast on March 13, the
Ambassador and Philippine Chief of the Armed Forces General
Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. discussed the need to sustain the
pursuit of high-value terrorists in southern Mindanao.
Esperon said he hoped the results from the DNA analysis of
the suspected remains of Bali bomber Dulmatin (ref B) would
be known soon, but Esperon noted that regardless of the
outcome, it was important that strong momentum against
terrorists is continuing. Discussing the recent change of
command on Jolo island, Esperon expressed firm support for
Marine Brigadier General Juancho Sabban, who took command of
the combined Philippine forces on Jolo in March. Sabban,
Esperon said, was the right choice to close the gap in
tracking down the remaining high-value terrorists
concentrated on the mountainous island. The Ambassador
concurred, saying that the USG stood ready to assist the
Philippine forces as needed, including continued
civil-military projects.

¶3. (C) Esperon remarked that he had spent many years posted
to Jolo island earlier in his career and that he had seen
many successes there. The real difference, Esperon said, was
that in previously completely destitute areas, people now had
hope for a better life through improved infrastructure and
economic opportunity, which he credited to U.S. assistance.
This opportunity, he continued, was essential to promoting
stability and achieving durable peace accords with the Muslim
insurgents of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro
National Liberation Front. Esperon said he believed that
both the insurgents and the military had tired of decades of
fighting and that both sides support the peace process.

MILITARY NOT PLAYING POLITICS
—————————–

¶4. (C) Esperon said that he was proud of the conduct of the
Philippine military and police during the recent protests
against the Arroyo administration (ref A). Esperon said he
believed the security forces had turned a corner in their
ability to handle large demonstrations without incident.
Although the police were under tremendous pressure during the
protests held in Manila, Esperon emphasized that the
demonstrations showed that people could express their
opinions in a peaceful manner while the police and military
upheld their responsibility to ensure public order. Despite
some media rumors that the military would act
extraconstitutionally during the protests, Esperon said
responsible decisionmakers did not share that concern, citing
prominent business leaders who had called him to offer their
support during the rallies and to compliment the exemplary
behavior of the police and military.

BILATERAL EXERCISES VALUABLE
—————————-

¶5. (C) Esperon agreed with the Ambassador that the recent

MANILA 00000664 002 OF 002

Balikatan joint U.S.-Philippine military exercise was a
success, despite early difficulties in Mindanao with a small
minority of critics, who sought to portray the exercise as a
hostile combat operation against Muslim populations (ref C).
During Balikatan, U.S. and Philippine military personnel
treated more than 12,000 patients in the southern Philippines
alone in medical, dental, and veterinary civil affairs
projects, and had completed 27 engineering projects as well.

¶6. (C) Esperon commented that, generally, field training
components of Balikatan and other annual exercises, which
take place outside of Mindanao, draw little attention from
the media or critics. As part of planning next year’s
Balikatan, Esperon said he had instructed his Philippine
Balikatan chairman to explore ways to mitigate expected
negative publicity well in advance of all future bilateral
exercises, not just Balikatan. The Ambassador agreed and
said the Embassy similarly was looking at how to package the
range of activities during our bilateral exercises to ensure
that they continue to provide the most valuable outcomes for
both countries. Esperon thanked the Ambassador for U.S.
assistance in all areas. Esperon concluded by saying that
while we must continue to think creatively about how to
engage those few who attempt to derail the U.S.-Philippine
relationship, 95 percent of the Philippine population is
strongly pro-American.

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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