Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/10/08MANILA2364.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA2364
2008-10-20 05:08
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO9136
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2364/01 2940508
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 200508Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2106
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002364

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/16/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR ENGAGES FOREIGN SECRETARY ON BILATERAL AND REGIONAL ISSUES

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Foreign Secretary Romulo invited Ambassador
for a private breakfast October 10. In the course of the
meal, they discussed a broad range of topics, including
ASEAN, the Millennium Challenge Corporation Account, U.S.
military in the Philippines, and the Philippine peace process
with Muslim insurgents. On the ASEAN Charter, Romulo said
that the Philippines remained committed to pushing human
rights in Burma, after the Philippine Senate’s ratification
of the Charter. Romulo said the Philippines was excited
about co-hosting the ASEAN Regional Forum disaster relief
exercise in 2009 and was devoting key personnel to the
endeavor. Highlighting the visit of Finance Secretary Teves
to Washington to meet with Millennium Challenge Corporation
officials, Romulo stressed that the Philippines continued its
preparations to submit a compact proposal early in 2009.
Romulo emphasized the Arroyo Administration’s support for
strong U.S.-Philippine military relations, touting the
involvement of top government officials during recent
discussions over the presence of U.S. forces in the
Philippines. Regarding the stalled peace process with the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Ambassador stressed that
it was critical that the government end the fighting and
return to the negotiating table soon. END SUMMARY.

STRENGTHENING ASEAN FROM WITHIN
——————————-

¶2. (C) Secretary Romulo said that the Philippine Senate’s
16-1 vote Oct. 7 in favor of the ASEAN Charter reflected the
government’s desire to influence the organization on key
issues such as Burma, while at the same time realizing that
change would have to come from the inside. Being the “odd
man out” on charter ratification would not have served
Philippine interests when it came to pushing ASEAN on topics
that the organization had been hesitant to address, such as
Burma’s human rights problems and need for democratization,
Romulo said. The Ambassador commented that when President
Arroyo signed the ratification, she could use the occasion to
make a strong statement on the importance of respecting human
rights, which Romulo concurred was an excellent suggestion.
Turning to the ASEAN Regional Forum disaster relief exercise
planned for May 2009 in the Philippines, Romulo said the
government was eager to host the event, had assigned top
personnel to participate in planning, and hoped that the
Australian Status of Forces Agreement would be approved so
the Australians could play a larger role in the multilateral
exercise.

REFUTING CRITICS OF U.S. MILITARY SUPPORT
—————————————–

¶3. (C) The Ambassador thanked Romulo for the Arroyo
Administration’s support during recent media and political
scrutiny of the role of U.S. military forces in the
Philippines. Romulo said the October 2 trip by key
Philippine Senate and Congressional leaders to Zamboanga to
meet with, and be briefed by, U.S. forces had been a
tremendous success, and he praised the role of Visiting
Forces Commission head, Undersecretary Edilberto Adan, in
leading the visit. Romulo said the delegation, which
included opposition Senator Rodolfo Biazon and four
congressmen, came away from the trip with a better
understanding of the role that U.S. forces play in
counterterrorism efforts, and with renewed confidence that
U.S. Forces were fully adhering to the requirements of the
Visiting Forces Agreement. Romulo underscored that the
coordinated initiative by the Embassy and government to
inform legislators and the media had been very productive in
refuting accusations that the U.S. military was establishing
bases in the Philippines.

CORRUPTION CONCERNS AND MCC
—————————

¶4. (C) Turning to the Millennium Challenge Account, Romulo
said the visit of Finance Secretary Teves to Washington to
meet with Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Chief
Executive Officer Ambassador John Danilovich was essential to
prepare the Philippines to present their case for a compact
early in 2009. The Ambassador stressed that corruption
indicators still were not in the Philippines’ favor and that
more had to be done to combat corruption. Romulo stated that
Arroyo government was taking steps to address the issue that
he hoped would help the Philippines pass the MCC corruption
indicators.

KEEPING PEACE HOPES ALIVE
————————-

MANILA 00002364 002 OF 002

¶5. (C) With regard to the Philippine government’s peace
negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),
Romulo said he hoped an upcoming report from the Catholic
bishops and Muslim ulamas would start the process moving
forward. The Ambassador emphasized that the USG was worried
that the Philippine military did not have a concrete end in
sight to the fighting and that the government might push the
MILF into a situation where they felt isolated. Romulo
responded that he thought the Malaysian-led international
monitoring team could be useful in helping keep the dialogue
open between the two sides. The Ambassador said that the
number of displaced civilians in Mindanao was of great
concern and that the government should focus on reducing
their suffering and finding a way to get past the fighting
and back to the negotiating table. Romulo agreed and said
that a primary objective of the government needed to be
infrastructure and economic development in poorer areas of
the Philippines to better integrate separatist groups.

——-
COMMENT
——-

¶6. (C) Always engaging, Romulo touched on many areas. He
obviously was seeking USG perspective on the Philippines
prospect for inclusion in the Millennium Challenge Account,
which reflected President Arroyo’s continued focus on
maximizing the U.S.-Philippine assistance relationship. At
the same time, Romulo’s candid assessment that criticism of
the U.S. military in the Philippines often stems from various
parties wanting attention in the form of financial assistance
underscores the delicate political environment in the
Philippines.
KENNEY

   

 

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