Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/07/07MANILA2359.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA2359
2007-07-12 08:46
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO0344
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2359/01 1930846
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 120846Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7393
INFO RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002359

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL MARR RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR HIGHLIGHTS U.S. PROGRAMS IN BICOL

¶1. (U) Summary. During a July 4 visit to Legaspi City and the
Bicol region, the Ambassador focused public attention on
Philippine-American Friendship Day, the Fourth of July, and U.S.
programs benefiting the region. Joined by Admiral Crowder, the
Commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, the day’s events celebrated
U.S. Navy assistance to typhoon-damaged communities as part of
Peleliu Pacific Partnership 2007, which included the building of new
homes for displaced families and the handover of pallets of goods to
a local NGO for community assistance. The trip highlights included
a formal announcement of US$5 million in disaster reconstruction
assistance from the USG (through USAID) and a reception for regional
leaders aboard the U.S.S. Peleliu. Press coverage of these events
in local and national media was extensive and positive.

BACKGROUND
———-

¶2. (U) Legaspi City, the capital of Albay Province in Bicol
Region, lies on the southeastern peninsula of Luzon, the largest
island in the Philippines. Agriculture and fishing are major
factors in the province’s economy. Mt. Mayon is the most prominent
of the several volcanoes in the province, and recent eruptions
caused significant destruction and many deaths. Facing the Pacific
Ocean, the region is often struck by typhoons.

U.S.S. PELELIU SAILORS HELP LOCAL COMMUNITY
——————————————-

¶3. (U) In November 2006, Typhoon Reming devastated the Bicol
region and displaced thousands of local citizens. The Honest
Anislag Daraga Transition Center has served as a relocation center
for families left homeless by the typhoon, with separate charity
groups running different sections. Through the Peleliu Pacific
Partnership, U.S. sailors are building 35 new homes for needy
families. The Ambassador visited the site for a ceremonial
ribbon-cutting in front of a large media presence. More than 50
U.S. Navy personnel worked on the Center.

¶4. (U) The Ambassador also presided over a ceremony for Project
Handclasp, involving the turnover of pallets of goods to an NGO in
the community of Tabaco, around 45 minutes north of Legaspi.
Project Handclasp is a charity that receives donated goods, which
U.S. Navy ships deliver on a space-available basis. The NGO, Simon
of Cyrene, promotes the rights and inclusion of persons with
disabilities. Donated goods included clothing, toys, books, food,
and first-aid supplies. This event also had a significant media
presence as well as the presence of the mayor of Tabaco.

USAID FUNDS MILLIONS IN RECONSTRUCTION ASSISTANCE
——————————————— —-

¶5. (SBU) In Legaspi City, the Ambassador met with the Governor of
Albay Province and the Governor of Camarines Sur Province. The
newly elected Governor of Albay (formerly President Arroyo’s Chief
of Staff and an ex-Congressman) described his vision for the
development of Albay. He cited the province’s infrastructure needs
and plans, most notably a new international airport in Daraga, in
the southern part of Albay. He described Daraga as a possible
future center of investment, noting he had invited three
universities to relocate there. He linked Daraga’s development to
the typhoon rehabilitation efforts, as many of the permanent housing
sites are in that area. He expressed the hope that new homeowners
there will constitute a new secure development and source of human
resources. The Governor of Camarines Sur lauded his own province’s
human resources as well, citing several cartoons currently running
in the U.S. that were produced in Camarines Sur.

¶6. (U) In the People’s Hall of the Albay Provincial Capitol
Building with a crowd including the media, local dignitaries, and
NGOs, the Ambassador announced the USG’s plans to provide US$5
million for typhoon reconstruction assistance in Bicol, with USAID
giving two grants, one going to Save the Children (SAVE) and the
other to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). These
funds will be used to rebuild the lives of affected families by:
restoring or providing permanent shelters, community infrastructure,
and water and sanitation facilities; providing basic household
supplies; supporting the rehabilitation and diversification of
livelihood; and offering capacity building for disaster risk
reduction. IOM is expected to build up to 1,000 new homes and 8
community centers. The Governor of Albay offered special thanks on
behalf of the people of Albay to the U.S. Congress and especially to
U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye for sponsoring these projects. At the
end of the ceremony, the Governor formally proclaimed the Ambassador
a “Daughter of Albay Province.”

PEACE CORPS OUTREACH
——————–

¶7. (U) The Ambassador also had lunch with local Peace Corps

MANILA 00002359 002 OF 002

Volunteers to discuss local projects and express appreciation for
their commitment and hard work.

MEDIA COVERAGE
————–

¶8. (U) Close cooperation between PAS and the U.S.S. Peleliu’s
public affairs team resulted in ten members of the international and
national media flying to Bicol from Manila; all spent the night
onboard the ship and covered all of the Ambassador’s public events.
The Ambassador and Admiral Crowder gave interviews to three daily
newspapers and two national TV stations. Press coverage on the
overall visit was outstanding; the next day’s two largest daily
newspapers in Manila led with page 1 stories and photographs of the
U.S.S. Peleliu housing program and the pledge of $5 million in USAID
reconstruction assistance. Multiple newspapers have picked up wire
services photos of U.S. sailors working at humanitarian project
sites the press visited that day. The Philippine ABS-CBN cable news
network featured a piece on the mature U.S.-Philippine relationship.
Another TV station did a special report on the $5 million
assistance program. Both national commercial networks featured
prime time news reports of U.S. sailors building homes for typhoon
victims.

¶9. (U) The Ambassador gave a live radio interview to OKFM —
People’s Broadcasting Network in Legaspi City, reaching an audience
across six provinces with a strong message of Philippine-American
friendship, focusing on the many USG development programs in the
disaster-affected region.

U.S. NAVY FOURTH OF JULY RECEPTION
———————————-

¶10. (U) The U.S.S. Peleliu hosted a Fourth of July reception on
the ship for over 150 guests, including local dignitaries, NGO
representatives, and Americans working and living in the region.
Following remarks by the Ambassador, Admiral Crowder, and Commodore
Stewart from the Peleliu Pacific Partnership, guests enjoyed a large
barbeque buffet and a ceremonial cake cutting in a festive
atmosphere.

¶11. (U) The Ambassador’s ongoing outreach to regional hubs
throughout the Philippines continues to draw attention to the USG’s
multi-faceted involvement around the country, as do travels by other
Mission staff. This activist approach underscores our broad
engagement with, and interest in, the welfare of the people of this
treaty ally and long-time friend.

KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.