Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/10/07MANILA3279.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA3279
2007-10-01 02:49
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO2758
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3279/01 2740249
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 010249Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8436
INFO RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003279

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE PASS USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID MOPS PREL PTER RP SOCI
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR INAUGURATES FOUR ASSISTANCE PROJECTS IN JOLO CITY

REF: MANILA 1094

¶1. SUMMARY: The Ambassador highlighted continued U.S.
assistance to conflict areas in the southern Philippines with
a visit to Jolo City on September 24 to inaugurate four
assistance projects, three of which were conducted in
partnership with the British government. Traveling with UK
ambassador Peter Beckingham and Philippines Armed Forces
Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon, the Ambassador’s
trip reinforced the message that social assistance to improve
basic infrastructure and generate employment opportunities is
a key element in U.S. efforts against terrorism in the
Philippines. The centerpiece project was the opening of a
paved bridge and road in the heart of Jolo City that will
link the port area to the market complex. Warmly received by
local officials and residents, the events were well covered
by local and national media. END SUMMARY.

——————————-
A FOCUS ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
——————————-

¶2. At the Ambassador’s invitation, the UK ambassador and
General Esperon accompanied her and other Embassy officials
to Jolo on September 24 to inaugurate four assistance
projects, three of which featured British government
participation. Jolo is located on Sulu island, which
continues to be a conflict area with members of terrorist
organizations like the Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah
using the island as a base of operations. The United States
Agency for International Development (USAID), the Joint
Special Operations Task Force – Philippines (JSOTF-P) and the
Philippine government have undertaken a series of public
works, civil affairs programs, and economic development
projects to reduce the influence of terrorist groups on the
local population.

¶3. Kicking off the visit was the opening of the Jolo Market
Road, a project valued at $480,000. Jolo City, with a
population of 88,000 (out of approximately 650,000 on Sulu
island) is the center of trade, commerce, and industry in the
Sulu Archipelago. The vast majority of its inhabitants are
Muslim. The Ambassador presided over the handover ceremony
that included the governor of Sulu, the mayor of Jolo, and
numerous local officials. In her remarks, the Ambassador
stressed the importance of economic development and
partnership between the U.S. and Philippine governments to
promote peace and prosperity. The road project connected the
busiest market in the province to its main port. The opening
of the road is expected to facilitate more rapid transfer of
incoming goods and outgoing products, creating a direct
economic benefit for Jolo’s residents.

—————————————-
PROJECTS BRING CLEAN WATER TO VILLAGERS,
JOBS TO FORMER COMBATANTS
—————————————-

¶4. At the Provincial Capitol building, the Ambassador
participated in a ceremony to inaugurate a potable water
system funded by the British Embassy and provided through
USAID’s Alliance for Mindanao Off-Grid Renewable Energy
Project. The water system serves four communities and
benefits 1,200 people. The sanitary and economic benefits of
the project were immediately apparent as villagers commented
on their improved health and cost savings they were enjoying
since the system went into use. Beneficiaries said that
prior to the projects implementation, they would spend much
of their income on water and that the time to travel to and
from water sources could consume half of their day. After
the two ambassadors symbolically “turned on the taps,”
village leaders and children thanked them for the project.

¶5. Another joint economic development project involved a
turnover ceremony of aquaculture production materials to
former combatants from the Moro National Liberation Front.
The program teaches the participants how to farm abalone and
lobster, both lucrative products for local and export
markets. The Ambassador met recipients who had benefited
from equipment provided by the British Embassy and technical
assistance and training from USAID’s Growth with Equity in
Mindanao Program. Of approximately 3,400 former Moro
National Liberation Front combatants in Sulu Province who are
participating in USAID economic assistance programs, about
500 have been helped to diversify into aquaculture.

——————————-
LOCAL POLITICAL SUPPORT EVIDENT
——————————-

MANILA 00003279 002 OF 002

¶6. Throughout the visit, the Ambassador was accompanied by
Sulu governor Sakur Tan and the mayor of Jolo. Tan has
stated publicly his desire for peace in Sulu and that he will
work hard to achieve it. He has acknowledged that military
offensives and economic development are necessary to achieve
a prosperous Sulu, and recently has voiced his dream of
turning Sulu into a tourist destination. During her meeting
with Tan, the Ambassador complimented him on his cooperation
with the Philippine military and emphasized the need to
continue along the parallel paths of stability and
development (there are about 5,000 Philippine combat troops
on Sulu). The Ambassador informed Tan of the recent approval
of $3.7 million in U.S. 1207 funds to modernize the Jolo
airport and municipal water system, projects Tan said would
be a huge boon to the community.

—————————–
SURFING AT SULU HIGH SCHOOL
—————————–

¶7. The day’s events culminated at Sulu National High School,
where the Ambassador and her British colleague handed over a
computer lab with internet access to eager teachers and
students. Previously, the school had limited computer
facilities, but with a student population of 1,800, there was
a high demand for more computers and higher speed access.
The school also is making the new equipment available to the
public after hours, furthering the ability to educate local
residents. Sulu National High School is one of 13 schools
assisted by USAID’s Computer Literacy and Internet Connection
Program in Sulu. Schools that participate in USAID’s
Computer Literacy and Internet Connection Program report
higher demand on enrollment, improved school completion rates
by students, and greater use of internet based curriculum
resources by school teachers. After her remarks, the
Ambassador toured the lab and spoke with students about the
opportunities provided by the new equipment.

¶8. COMMENT: As in previous visits to Jolo, the Ambassador
was welcomed with enthusiasm. Thousands of residents turned
out at the days’ events to express their appreciation for
U.S. assistance. The extensive network of USAID projects,
combined with a steady program of JSOTF-P civil affairs
events are bearing fruit in the form a populace that is open
to the idea of a combined U.S.-Philippine effort to combat
terrorism and bring peace to Sulu. END COMMENT.

KENNEY

   

 

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