Oct 212014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/04/09MANILA729.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA729
2009-04-03 09:12
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO8597
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0729 0930912
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 030912Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3758
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 MANILA 000729

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/03/2019
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR ENGAGES MALACANANG SECRETARY ESPERON ON PEACE PROCESS, OTHERS ISSUES

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Ambassador met April 3 with Secretary
Hermogenes Esperon, head of the presidential management
staff, to discuss developments in Mindanao. In Esperon’s
view, all sides in the Mindanao conflict desire an early
return to peace negotiations, which will likely resume as
soon as Malaysian facilitators are ready. Esperon was
attentive to the Ambassador’s concerns over leaks by the
Philippine Department of Justice in the high-profile
extradition cases of three former Philippine policemen who
are wanted in connection with a widely publicized double
murder in 2000. Esperon expressed agreement that the time
was overdue for resolution of the long-simmering
controversial rape conviction of a U.S. Marine. END SUMMARY

¶2. (C) In discussing the current status of the Mindanao
peace process, Esperon, President Arroyo’s former peace
process adviser, explained that he keeps open back channels
of communication with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF), and stays in close touch with his successor, Avelino
Razon. Secretary Esperon was upbeat in his assessment that
all parties sought an early return to negotiations, and that
talks could resume as soon as Malaysian facilitators were
ready – quickly adding that the MILF would not participate in
the absence of the Malaysians. Given the serious reversals
in the peace process that started in early August of 2008,
Esperon opined that at this point, the modest goal was simply
to return to the negotiating table, although he nonetheless
believes that more can be achieved, depending on how soon
Malaysian facilitators can get organized. The Ambassador
described how, in her recent travels to the southern
Philippines, it was her very strong sense that everyone
shared a desire for peace, a view with which Esperon agreed.
Esperon outlined how recent “consultation” visits to affected
areas by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were
primarily intended to keep the peace process alive until
Malaysia is ready to reconvene talks.

¶3. (C) Turning to the subject of the high-profile
extradition cases of three Philippine former policemen wanted
in connection with the highly-publicized 2000 murders of
public relations executive Salvador Dacer and his driver
Emmanuel Corbito, Esperon shared his frustration at continued
legal maneuverings that have repeatedly postponed the return
of former PNP officers Glenn Dumlao, Cezar Mancao, and
Michael Ray Aquino. The Ambassador underscored how public
statements by Philippine Department of Justice Secretary Raul
Gonzalez regarding the timing and logistics of the
extradition subjects’ movements were counterproductive, and
might not only delay the extradition process in these cases,
but even imperil broader cooperation on other judicial
matters. Esperon clearly understood the seriousness of such
security leaks.

¶4. (C) Esperon, a former four-star Army general and Chief of
Staff of the Armed Forces, discussed with the Ambassador who
might next assume his former role. Esperon postulated that
the three finalists were Southern Luzon Command commander LTG
Delfin Bangit, Philippine Army Commanding General LTG Victor
Ibrado, and AFP Deputy Chief of Staff LTG Rodrigo Maclang,
and he seemed to favor Ibrado, while being very cool in
discussing Bangit. Secretary Esperon imparted that the
controversy over ICRC hostages in Jolo did not damage MG
Juancho Sabban’s chances of being Marine corps commandant,
but added that the problem was what to do with Philippine
Marine Corps Commandant MB Ben Dolorfino, whom he
characterized as less than a dynamic leader and likely
incapable of handling an important command. Still,
Dolorfino’s seniority and his status as one of few
high-ranking Muslim generals militated against “putting him
out to pasture.”

¶5. (C) The Ambassador raised the subject of Lance Corporal
Daniel J. Smith, underscoring our frustration with the slow
pace of justice, and noting that Smith’s appeal of his rape
conviction had been pending in the appeals court for nearly a
year and a half — notwithstanding the Philippine
Constitution’s prescription that appeals must be resolved
within 12 months. Esperon confessed that he had little
sympathy for Smith, whose behavior “whether criminal or not
reflected poorly on the U.S. Marine Corps,” but he
nonetheless agreed that the time was ripe for the case to be
resolved. The Ambassador highlighted that the status quo
represented a continued and unnecessary drag on bilateral
relations.
KENNEY

   

 

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