Oct 212014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/01/09MANILA12.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA12
2009-01-05 07:34
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO9512
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0012/01 0050734
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 050734Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2766
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000012

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/05/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES PEACE PROCESS, POLITICAL ISSUES WITH FOREIGN SECRETARY

Classified By: Amb. Kristie A. Kenney, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) During a breakfast meeting January 5, the Ambassador
and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo discussed the
Philippine peace talks with Muslim insurgents, potential for
changes to the Philippine Constitution, the Millennium
Challenge Corporation, and external political issues. On the
peace process, the Ambassador expressed concern that fighting
in Mindanao was leaving more residents displaced and that
outside terrorist groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah could use
the lack of movement toward restarting talks as a pretext to
increase their presence in Mindanao. Romulo expressed hopes
that his Government’s new peace panel could get things back
on track. Romulo said he understood the need for the
Philippines to improve its anti-corruption performance in
order to be eligible for Millenium Challenge Corporation
funding. Addressing the movement to amend the constitution,
Romulo said that such efforts should wait until after
presidential elections in 2010, as the public would not
tolerate any provisions that allowed President Arroyo to run
again. On external issues, Romulo noted that he had been in
Thailand over the holidays to meet his counterpart and was
hopeful that things would improve there with the new
government in place. Romulo said the Philippine government
was worried about the security of Filipinos in Gaza and was
planning to evacuate more than 100 Philippine citizens in the
next few days. Romulo emphasized he looked forward to
meeting Secretary Rice in the U.S., as the reason for his
trip was to thank her personally for her friendship and
leadership. He also expressed his hopes to see EAP Assistant
Secretary Hill while in Washington. End Summary.

———————-
MINDANAO PEACE PROCESS
———————-

¶2. (C) During a breakfast hosted by Philippine Foreign
Secretary Alberto Romulo January 5, the Ambassador voiced her
concern over the Philippine government’s lack of movement on
the peace process with Muslim insurgents in Mindanao. The
Ambassador said that outside terrorist groups operating in
the Philippines, such as Jemaah Islamiyah, could interpret
the failure to restart talks as a lack of commitment to the
peace process by the Arroyo government and could capitalize
on the situation to reestablish a foothold in Mindanao. The
Ambassador emphasized that continuing violence could have a
negative outcome internationally for the Philippines, as it
sent the wrong signal to potential investors and tourists.
Renewing the ceasefire that existed five months ago was a
critical first step that the Ambassador stressed needed to
occur immediately. Secretary Romulo was optimistic that the
government’s new peace panel would be able to restart peace
talks and said that newly-appointed chairman Rafael Seguis
had added Mindanao-based lawyer Tomas Cabili to the panel,
giving the body the ability to avoid previous legal issues
that had derailed the peace process in August. Romulo
admitted that some Cabinet members had strong hawkish
tendencies and favored pressing the fight against rogue Moro
Islamic Liberation Front commanders, a position that only
exacerbated the tenuous situation, with civilians displaced
by the conflict.

————————————–
NOT THE TIME FOR CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE
————————————–

¶3. (C) Discussing the potential for amending the
Constitution, which many Filipinos believe would be intended
to maintain President Arroyo in power after her term expires
in 2010, Romulo stressed that he did not think President
Arroyo was serious about such a process, as there was no
public support for it. He opined that any move to amend the
constitution should be delayed until after the presidential
elections in 2010, when the merits of such constitutional
amendments could be evaluated without regard to the current
administration.

——————————–
MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION
——————————–

¶4. (C) Given the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC)
decision to re-select the Philippines for participation,
Secretary Romulo said he recognized the necessity for
continued progress in mitigating corruption to meet MCC
Compact criteria. The Ambassador urged Romulo to take an
active role in encouraging substantive institutional reforms
to reduce corruption. Romulo noted that the Philippines had
made marked headway against corruption and would continue to
do so.

MANILA 00000012 002 OF 002

—————–
EXTERNAL POLITICS
—————–

¶5. (C) Having just returned from a trip to Bangkok over the
holidays, Secretary Romulo said he had met with his Thai
counterpart, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya. Romulo said the
trip went well and that he hoped the political situation in
Thailand would continue to improve now that the new
government was in place. Regarding the current violence in
Gaza, Romulo acknowledged that the Philippine government was
concerned about the safety of Philippine citizens residing in
Gaza, many of them married to Palestinians, and that the
Arroyo administration had arranged for the evacuation of more
than 100 Filipinos in the wake of the current fighting. At
the same time, Romulo emphasized that he firmly supported the
USG position regarding Israel’s offensive and that Hamas
attacks against Israel had left the Israeli government no
other option.

————
TRIP TO U.S.
————

¶6. (C) Romulo concluded the meeting by raising his upcoming
trip to the United States January 13. He said he was making
the trip specifically to thank Secretary Rice for her
friendship and leadership during her tenure. Romulo noted he
had no other meetings planned, but that he hoped he might
also be able to see EAP Assistant Secretary Hill while in
Washington.
KENNEY

   

 

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