Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1275/01 1660822
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150822Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4387
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001275
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KISL KPAO EAID RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR ENGAGES IN MUSLIM COMMUNITY OUTREACH IN SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES CITY OF ZAMBOANGA
¶1. Summary: Ambassador Kenney’s June 4th visit to Zamboanga City
showcased continuing U.S. commitment to the economic and social
development of Mindanao. The Ambassador launched the OneWoman
Initiative, a USG-funded project to empower Islamic women leaders,
and spoke at a U.S.-sponsored multicultural youth camp. Throughout
the day, the Ambassador spoke with national and local media about
U.S. interests in the region, engaged in Muslim community outreach,
and encouraged Filipinos to watch President Obama’s speech in Cairo.
The Ambassador’s trip also provided an opportunity to engage U.S.
and Philippine military leaders on southern Philippines security
issues of mutual interest. End Summary.
Background: Zamboanga City
¶2. Zamboanga City, in extreme southwestern Mindanao, is a
multicultural crossroads for regional trade and economic activity.
Given its proximity to conflict-affected areas of Mindanao, it also
faces peace and security challenges. The U.S. has a range of
development and security-related cooperation activities in
Zamboanga, including several hundred military personnel of the U.S.
Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), who work
with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) counterparts in a
noncombatant advisory role. JSOTF-P is collocated at Camp Navarro
with the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command.
Empowering Muslim Women
¶3. Demonstrating U.S. support for the special role of women in
development, the Ambassador officially launched the OneWoman
initiative, a joint effort by the U.S. Department of State and
private corporations in countries with large Muslim populations to
support women’s empowerment, including their ability to obtain
justice, seek opportunity, and strengthen their leadership. The
OneWoman Initiative’s grant to the Philippines-based NGO Magbassa
Kita Foundation was one of the first of five grantees worldwide.
The USD 124,000, three-year grant will support a project titled
“Empowering Women as Peace Advocates: An Interfaith Project on the
Role of Women in Conflict Prevention and Peace-Building,” aiming to
provide women with skills for conflict management and peace
building. A regional conference, provincial seminars, and local
interfaith forums will reinforce the skills learned in this program
and enable its participants to sustain the networks and personal
connections they forged. In her remarks at the launch event, the
Ambassador underscored the important role that women play in the
peace process. Noting the attendance of senior religious leaders
from the Muslim community, the Ambassador took the opportunity to
highlight anticipated themes from President Obama’s speech to be
delivered later that day in Cairo, which she encouraged all those
present to watch.
Multicultural Youth Camps for Peace and Understanding
¶4. At the Youth Camp for Peace and Understanding, the Ambassador
spoke to an audience of over 100 teenaged youth from central and
western Mindanao. She congratulated them for building friendships,
cooperation, and trust across religious, cultural, and ethnic lines.
The USG-funded camps are intended to foster lasting bonds of trust
and respect among the participants from divergent backgrounds —
Christian, Muslim, and indigenous groups. The camps also develop
values, attitudes, and skills that will better enable participants
to demonstrate tolerance of other cultures and religions.
Lending a Helping Hand with “Brigada Eskwela”
¶5. The Ambassador joined 30 camp participants in community service
at an area high school that serves both Muslims and Christians.
After assisting students, teachers, and parents in repainting walls
and furniture, the Ambassador praised the spirit of community
service shown by Brigada Eskwela (School Brigade) during the school
cleanup, and underscored the importance of education. (Launched in
2003, Brigada Eskwela is a nationwide voluntary effort organized by
the Philippine Department of Education to undertake needed repairs
on schools in preparation for the start of the school year.)
Ongoing Challenges to Security in Mindanao
¶6. At Camp Navarro, the JSOTF-P commander updated the Ambassador on
security cooperation and civil-military activities in Mindanao.
Subsequent discussions over lunch with senior-level AFP leaders
underscored the positive working relationship between the AFP and
U.S. Special Forces, and provided an excellent opportunity to engage
Philippine counterparts on a range of issues that included human
rights challenges brought on by recent outbreaks of violence in
Mindanao that have displaced tens of thousands.
MANILA 00001275 002 OF 002
Regional Media, International Perspectives
¶7. In two interviews with regional television, radio, and print
reporters at the Youth Camp, the Ambassador underscored continuing
U.S. commitment to the economic and social development of the
southern Philippines, and the need for a renewed effort on the part
of everyone – especially the young – to support peace by promoting
interfaith and cross-cultural understanding. The Ambassador noted
that President Obama would be speaking about his commitment to “A
New Beginning” in engagement with the Muslim world at Cairo
University that same night, and she encouraged all to watch it on
television or read the speech online.