Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/06/07MANILA1823.html

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA1823
2007-06-03 23:38
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO3822
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1823/01 1542338
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 032338Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6779
INFO RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1372
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001823

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE PLEASE PASS TO ECA/PE/C/EAP R HARVEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID SCUL PREL RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR HIGHLIGHTS U.S. PROGRAMS IN ILOILO

REF: Manila 01383

¶1. Summary. During a May 21 visit to Iloilo City and Guimaras
Island, the Ambassador focused public attention on U.S. programs
benefiting the region. She toured a national mango research center
and local mango festival, visited a Peace Corps environmental
education program, and kicked off ECA/C’s and USA Soccer’s World Cup
Soccer Initiative. Press coverage of these events was extensive and
positive. End Summary.

BACKGROUND
———-

¶2. Iloilo City, the capital of Iloilo Province and a regional hub of
the western Visayas with a population of 370,000, is located on the
southeast corner of Panay Island. The city draws its primary income
from fishing and fish processing. Other important products include
rice, sugar, bananas, mangoes, and hand-woven textiles. Guimaras
Island sits just south of Iloilo across a narrow waterway in Panay
Gulf. Guimaras, which is only accessible by boat, covers about 600
square miles and has 142,000 inhabitants. Fishing, mangoes, and
tourism drive its economy.

USDA PROJECTS HELP LOCAL ECONOMY
——————————–

¶3. In 2005, USDA provided US$2 million to fund a three-year mango
pest risk-assessment research program at the Philippine Bureau of
Plant Industry’s National Mango Research and Development Center
(BPI-NMRDC) in Guimaras (see reftel). Its director, one of two
former Agricultural Fulbright Scholars working here, briefed the
Ambassador about the Center’s work, led a tour, and expressed pride
in and appreciation for the USDA partnership. USDA’s Animal and
Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has also worked closely with
the Center over the last decade to develop a protocol, in compliance
with U.S. food safety regulations, that would allow Philippine mango
growers to export to the United States. Mango production in 2005
was valued at US$334 million and has increased steadily over the
last five years. Philippine experts estimate that the U.S. fresh
mango market is worth an estimated US$200 million and have stressed
the long-term export potential of local mangoes as well as their
hopes that U.S. import procedures can be relaxed. Currently, only
mangoes from Guimaras can be exported from the Philippines to the
U.S. mainland.

¶4. The Governor of Guimaras escorted the Ambassador to the nearby
Manggahan Festival, an annual celebration of the mango industry and
local handicrafts, as well as a commemoration of the island’s
declaration as an independent province in 1992. The festival also
highlights the resilience of the community in the wake of the August
2006 oil spill off the Guimaras coast that resulted in serious
environmental damage to the island. The Governor noted that, while
the oil spill was a tragedy, it had raised awareness of
environmental issues and brought international attention to the
small island.

¶5. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Deputy Administrator for
Capacity Building and Development Patricia R. Sheikh accompanied the
Ambassador during the visit to the Center and the Festival.

PEACE CORPS FOCUSES ON ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
——————————————— –

¶6. While in Guimaras, the Ambassador also visited one of four Peace
Corps projects in the province. One Peace Corps Volunteer had spent
the last two years facilitating environmental education to
elementary students at the Nueva Valencia Central School. During
her tenure, she created an organic garden, started an Eco Club, and
taught the community about recycling. The Ambassador met with
approximately 45 students and 15 teachers and toured the modest
facility. The teaching staff and community members expressed deep
appreciation for the Peace Corps Volunteer’s efforts and
Ambassador’s visit.

SPORTS DIPLOMACY: SOCCER CLINICS A BIG HIT
——————————————

¶7. Just north of Iloilo City in the town of Barotac Nuevo, the
Ambassador kicked off the World Cup Soccer Sports Initiative, a
partnership between the U.S. State Department’s Office of Citizen
Exchanges, USA Soccer, and the Philippine Football Federation. The
event was the first in a three-city series of soccer clinics hosted
by three athletes, including two American “Sports Envoys” and one
professional Filipina soccer player. The clinics offer a unique
opportunity for children to receive coaching from three exceptional
athletes and provide a venue for Americans and Filipinos to share
their love of sports. The Ambassador addressed an enthusiastic
crowd, which included local mayors, coaches, parents, and children
from around the area.

MANILA 00001823 002 OF 002

MEDIA COVERAGE
————–

¶8. Press coverage of the Ambassador’s day-long trip was extensive
and positive in both local and national media, following two
television interviews to local affiliates of national networks,
remarks to national print media, and a live radio interview about
U.S. projects for development in the region. She stressed myriad
USG investments in education, health, and agriculture to support
local communities.

¶9. 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 Philippine people.

¶10. Septel will report on the Ambassador’s meeting with Archbishop
Angel Lagdameo.

KENNEY

   

 

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