Oct 042014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/05/08MANILA1178.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1178
2008-05-15 09:31
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO4938
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1178/01 1360931
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 150931Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0728
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 001178

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS AARON COPE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/15/2018
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL RP BM
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR ENGAGES FOREIGN SECRETARY ON BURMA;PHILIPPINE MEDICAL TEAM AWAITS VISAS

REF: A. MANILA 1164

¶B. MANILA 1125
¶C. MANILA 1105
¶D. STATE 48651

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Post is continuing its close engagement
with the Philippine government regarding the worsening
humanitarian crisis in Burma, U.S. efforts in disaster
relief, and coordination of international assistance. The
Ambassador outlined for Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo U.S.
relief efforts so far, and expressed her hope that when
Romulo and his fellow ASEAN foreign ministers meet May 19 in
Singapore, they can find a way to persuade the Burmese regime
to accept more international aid. However, an experienced
Philippine government medical assistance team continues to
await permission from Burmese authorities to enter the
country and begin work. Philippine media reports highlight
the toll in human suffering, and continued stonewalling by
the junta on allowing in adequate international aid. END
SUMMARY.

¶2. (C) The Ambassador spoke May 14 with Foreign Minister
Alberto Romulo on Burma, describing how U.S. C-130 airlifts
this week have been able to provide tons of desperately
needed disaster-relief supplies, and how U.S. assets already
in place in neighboring Thailand for the annual “Cobra Gold”
military exercise can be made available on short notice. She
briefed Romulo on the May 14 consultations in Manila of PACOM
commander Admiral Timothy Keating, who briefed the
newly-designated Philippine Armed Forces Chief of Staff,
General Alexander Yano, on his surprise visit to Burma along
with USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore on the first U.S.
C-130 airlift on May 12. The Ambassador underscored to
Secretary Romulo deep U.S. concern at the lack of visas for
our DART disaster response team, which seriously hinders our
ability to ascertain whether relief supplies are actually
reaching storm victims. Responding to the Foreign
Secretary’s statement that he would travel to Singapore for a
May 19 meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers on Burma, the
Ambassador expressed hope that ASEAN can press Burma to open
its doors to international relief workers. Romulo said he
hoped ASEAN could use its collective voice to push Burma in
the right direction.

¶3. (C) Director Raymond Balatbat of the Department of
Foreign Affairs, ASEAN Affairs Division confirmed May 13 that
Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo would travel to Singapore
for a May 19 meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers, who will
discuss Burma relief efforts. Romulo will be accompanied by
Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo, Assistant Secretary
for Asia-Pacific Affairs Romeo Manalo, and Balatbat. When
asked why action had not been taken more quickly by ASEAN,
Balatbat responded that scheduling and logistical
difficulties had precluded an earlier meeting of the relevant
officials.

¶4. (SBU) According to Dr. Ariel Rivera, chief of the
Philippine medical mission being dispatched to Burma, the
Burmese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet granted a
travel permit to the medical team. Although the DFA remains
in close communication with the Burmese Embassy in Manila,
there is no indication how soon the team will be permitted to
travel. Dr. Rivera indicated that his team will work only in
the Rangoon area, and that after assessing the situation on
the ground, it will provide recommendations to Philippine
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regarding additional
assistance.

¶5. (C) Per reftel D, Embassy continues to engage Philippine
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) counterparts regarding
U.S. efforts to provide assistance to Burmese cyclone
victims, and the United States’ grave concerns over the
broadening humanitarian crisis there. Post on May 13
discussed U.S. airlifts of disaster-relief supplies with
working-level contacts in the DFA Offices of American
Affairs, UN/International Organizations, and ASEAN Affairs.

¶6. (SBU) Philippine media continue to focus on the suffering
of the Burmese people and the intransigence of the ruling
junta in not allowing greater access to Burma by
international relief organizations. Front-page articles and
editorials in the leading-dailies Philippine Star and
Philippine Daily Inquirer have highlighted how Burmese
authorities’ rejection of the United States’ enormous
disaster-relief capabilities would result in needless
suffering and death. Even in the far north of the

MANILA 00001178 002 OF 002

Philippines, DCM was asked about Burma and U.S. relief
efforts in a live radio interview, which DCM used to describe
U.S. and international efforts to help the people of Burma,
despite obstacles from the regime.
KENNEY

   

 

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