Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/10/08MANILA2311.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA2311
2008-10-08 09:00
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO1036
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2311/01 2820900
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 080900Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2003
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002311

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/07/2018
TAGS: PGOV EAID PINR PREL PHUM KISL RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR CONTINUES DIALOGUE WITH PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL SENATOR MANUEL “MAR” ROXAS

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In an October 3 private breakfast, Senator
Manuel “Mar” Roxas and the Ambassador discussed Roxas’s
presidential aspirations and the current state of play among
candidates in the run up to the 2010 elections. Roxas was
candid in the assessment of his rivals and of President
Arroyo’s challenges in her remaining months. The Ambassador
and Roxas discussed the U.S. presidential elections, with the
Ambassador emphasizing that U.S.-Philippine relations would
stay strong, regardless of the outcome. On the situation in
Mindanao, the Ambassador said it was important for the
government to keep an open dialogue with the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF), even as it continued to pursue rogue
MILF commanders who were responsible for instigating the
recent hostilities with the Philippine Armed Forces in
Mindanao. Roxas queried the Ambassador on the role of U.S.
troops in the southern Philippines and thanked the Ambassador
for the opportunity to learn more about USG military
activities in the region. The meeting concluded with Roxas
raising the case of former Philippine Department of
Agriculture Undersecretary Jocjoc Bolante’s request for
asylum in the United States. The Ambassador advised Roxas
that any communication to the USG on the Bolante case should
originate with the Arroyo administration. END SUMMARY.

————————
PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRATIONS
————————

¶2. (C) During a private breakfast October 3, the Ambassador
had a lively and engaging meeting with presidential hopeful
Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas on a variety of topics. Roxas was
eager to discuss his presidential campaign, saying he felt
that 2010 was his one chance at the presidency. He believed
he was well qualified and could do the job, but had trouble
getting media coverage and said television ads were going to
be expensive. Roxas said that only Senate President Manuel
Villar had the funds to buy television time at this stage and
that former president Joseph Estrada and Senator Panfilo
“Ping” Lacson were more likely to play spoiler roles instead
of running serious campaigns, with the winner owing them for
their support. The key to victory, Roxas said, would be
convincing the lower classes that the person running had
their interests at heart. Roxas confided to the Ambassador
that he was not sure how he personally would tackle that
problem, given that his Wharton MBA and ten years on Wall
Street as an investment banker did not “exactly call to the
common man.”

—————————————
ARROYO WILL CONTINUE TO FACE CHALLENGES
—————————————

¶3. (C) Roxas was candid in his assessment of President
Arroyo’s challenges during her last 18 months in office. He
said Arroyo would have trouble avoiding lawsuits, but did not
think she would try to stay on beyond her term. Roxas said
it was more likely that Administration supporters wanted her
to remain in office, as they were worried about their legal
fate once the presidency changed hands. The Ambassador
suggested that it would be best for the Philippines if the
new government would focus on solving domestic and
international problems and not on the politics of
retribution. Roxas said that whoever was elected probably
would want to pursue such a conciliatory course, but that
public pressure might build to act against Arroyo as it had
in the case of former president Estrada. Referring to
Arroyo’s order to have Estrada arrested on corruption charges
in April 2001, Roxas said Arroyo had not wanted to confront
Estrada, but that the pressure had reached a point that she
had to take action or risk being tainted as an Estrada crony
in the corruption scandals he faced.

——————————
“FASCINATED BY U.S. ELECTIONS”
——————————

¶4. (C) Turning to U.S. election politics, Roxas said he had
been fascinated by the campaign styles and strategies of the
two U.S. presidential candidates. In particular, Roxas said
he was interested in the U.S. focus on ethics and financial
disclosure by the candidates, subjects that received far less
attention in Philippine elections. The Ambassador took the
opportunity to note that U.S.-Philippine relations would
remain strong regardless of who was elected president.

MANILA 00002311 002 OF 002

——————
MINDANAO A CONCERN
——————

¶5. (C) The Ambassador stressed to Roxas that the USG was
concerned about the situation in Mindanao and how it was
affecting the civilian population and the broader prospects
for peace. The Ambassador voiced USG concerns that the
current fighting could widen, trapping the Philippine
military and police in a fight that was more protracted and
costly than they had envisioned. Keeping dialogue open with
the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was key to any
future peace negotiations, the Ambassador said. She
underscored that it was essential for the MILF leadership to
be seen as a credible interlocutor if the peace process was
to move forward. Roxas raised the aborted Memorandum of
Agreement between the government and the MILF, and the
Ambassador emphasized that the U.S. had no role in the
negotiations, but that we strongly support both sides
reaching an agreement that produces a durable peace in the
southern Philippines. Roxas agreed that peace was important
and lamented the negative impact that the renewed violence
was having on investment in Mindanao.

¶6. (C) Roxas was under the impression that U.S. troops had
a clandestine role in the Philippines and was reassured by
the Ambassador’s clear message that the USG was in the
Philippines strictly at the invitation of government to
assist in counterterrorism efforts, military training, and
humanitarian assistance. Roxas thanked the Ambassador for a
straightforward description of U.S. activities and was
appreciative of her openness about a topic he had mistakenly
perceived to be sensitive and not open to discussion.

————
BOLANTE CASE
————

¶7. (C) Roxas raised the asylum petition of former
Philippine Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Jocjoc
Bolante, currently under detention in the United States.
Bolante’s petition was denied by the U.S. Seventh Circuit
Court of Appeals on August 27. Roxas mentioned to the
Ambassador that no charges had been filed against Bolante in
the Philippines. The Ambassador said she appreciated his
input on the case, but that any official correspondence on
Bolante’s situation should come from the Arroyo government
and that she hoped Roxas was in touch with the Philippine
Department of Foreign Affairs.

——-
COMMENT
——-

¶8. Personable, articulate, and intelligent, Roxas has proven
to be an engaging and open interlocutor. He appears eager to
build a close relationship with the Embassy and seemed
genuinely to enjoy his conversation with the Ambassador. As
a powerful Senator with the education, pedigree, and savvy to
be the next president of the Philippines, he bears close
watching, although his electability remains an unknown.
Regardless of whether he wins in 2010, Senator Roxas will
continue to be an important figure in Philippine politics and
someone with whom the USG can work with closely in the future.

—————-
BIOGRAPHIC NOTES
—————-

¶9. Manuel A. Roxas II was born May 13, 1957, to former
Senator Gerardo Roxas and socialite-philanthropist Judy
Araneta-Roxas. He has been in the Senate since 2004.
Previously, he was Secretary of Trade and Industry from
1998-2003 and a congressman from the 1st District of Capiz in
the Visayas region of the Philippines from 1992-2001. He is
an opposition senator affiliated with the Liberal Party. His
election as party president was a move to lay the groundwork
for a 2010 presidential bid. Senator Roxas is single, but
has a son from a previous relationship. Roxas earned an
economics degree at the Wharton School of Business and
pursued post-graduate studies at the Kennedy School of
Government before working as an investment banker on Wall
Street for almost a decade. He is the grandson of the first
president of the independent Philippine Republic, Manuel
Roxas.
KENNEY

   

 

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