Oct 212014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/12/08MANILA2717.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA2717
2008-12-12 08:57
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO4549
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2717/01 3470857
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 120857Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2677
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 002717

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/12/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR ENGAGES EXECUTIVE SECRETARY ERMITA ON PEACE PROCESS

REF: MANILA 2677

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

¶1. (C) During a private breakfast December 12, Ambassador and
Presidential Executive Secretary Ermita discussed the
Philippine peace process with Muslim insurgents, the
Millennium Challenge Corporation Account, and the U.S.
government transition. On the peace process, Ermita said
President Arroyo was deeply committed to reaching an
agreement before the end of her term and planned to announce
a resumption of peace talks with Muslim insurgents at the
Philippines Armed Forces Day celebration, December 22. The
Ambassador informed Ermita that the Millennium Challenge
Corporation had decided to reselect the Philippines for
participation but strongly cautioned that the Philippines
would have to improve its anti-corruption performance.
Ermita was pleased with the news and observed that the
Philippines had made significant progress. Turning his
attention to an interfaith rally taking place later that day
in Manila to demonstrate against efforts to amend the
constitution, Ermita commented that it was healthy in a
democracy for citizens to air their views and the government
was prepared to ensure that the demonstrations did not turn
violent or otherwise get out of hand. Ermita concluded by
asking the Ambassador to convey the Philippine government’s
congratulations to Secretary of State-designate Hilary
Clinton, noting that President Arroyo had already written a
congratulatory letter to Senator Clinton. For her part, the
Ambassador took the opportunity to congratulate the
Philippine government for Department of Foreign Affairs
Undersecretary Rafael Seguis appointment as the government’s
chief negotiator with Muslim insurgents, reiterating U.S.
concern about continued fighting in Mindanao and the need to
continue negotiations. Finally, observing that the number of
extrajudicial killings had experienced a significant drop,
the Ambassador underscored the need for successful
prosecutions. End Summary.

BRINGING PEACE TO MINDANAO
————————–

¶2. (C) During a broadranging breakfast meeting December 12,
Presidential Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told the
Ambassador that President Arroyo planned to announce a
resumption of peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) at the Armed Forces Day celebration, December
¶22. Ermita said there will be a ceasefire and troops that
were brought in during recent fighting in Central Mindanao
will be withdrawn (reftel). Echoing what we have heard from
other Philippine officials, Ermita was critical of the role
the Malaysians played as facilitators in the peace talks with
the MILF and hoped that other Organization of Islamic
Conference countries could be persuaded to join a panel of
facilitators. He was particularly irritated about what he
characterized as Malaysian facilitator Datu Othman’s
“inappropriate behavior,” charging that he was not neutral
and gave the MILF bad advice. Looking forward, he was
delighted with the appointment of Department of Foreign
Affairs U/S Rafael Seguis as new head of the government’s
peace panel and intimated that he had personally suggested
Seguis for the job. He added that President Arroyo would
announce the rest of the peace panel December 12, during a
planned visit to Cotabato, in advance of her trip to Qatar on
December 13. Ermita concluded by saying that with a little
over a year left in her term, President Arroyo considers
peace in Mindanao a key element of her legacy and is deeply
committed to achieving it. The Ambassador welcomed U/S
Seguis’ appointment, while reiterating U.S. concern about
continued fighting in Mindanao and the need to revive
negotiations.

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

¶3. (C) The Ambassador informed Ermita that the Millennium
Challenge Corporation had decided to reselect the Philippines
for participation but cautioned that the Philippines would
have to improve its anti-corruption performance and meet
Compact criteria. Ermita was pleased with the news and
observed that, bad press to the contrary, the Philippines had
made significant progress in the last year. Separately, the
Ambassador gave the news to Finance Secretary Gary Teves, who
pledged to work hard to continue to fight corruption.

GOVERNMENT UNFAZED BY RALLIES AGAINST CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE
——————————————— ————–

¶4. (C) Turning his attention to an interfaith rally taking

MANILA 00002717 002 OF 002

place later that day to demonstrate against efforts to amend
the constitution, which many Filipinos perceived to be a
thinly veiled attempt to keep President Arroyo in office
after her term expires, Ermita said the government was not
worried, commenting that in a democracy it was healthy for
citizens to offer their views. Alluding to the 10,000 people
expected to attend the rally, Ermita dismissed the size of
the projected demonstration as unimportant and noted that the
government had taken precautions to ensure demonstrators did
not get out of hand or attempt to take over the airport, as
had happened in Thailand. He added that there was as yet no
evidence that the demonstration could turn violent. Though
the interfaith rally, organized by the leftist group Bayan
Muna, is expected to be peaceful, police contacts told us
that the Philippine National Police had deployed 5,000
personnel to cover the rally and the five districts in the
Manila metropolitan region were on full alert. Similarly,
the Commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines capitol
region was reportedly on standby at headquarters.

U.S. GOVERNMENT TRANSITION
————————–

¶5. (C) Ermita concluded by asking the Ambassador to convey
the Philippine government’s congratulations to Secretary of
State-designate Hilary Clinton, noting that President Arroyo
had already written a congratulatory letter to Senator
Clinton.
KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.