Sep 132014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/11/06MANILA4808.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA4808 2006-11-24 04:34 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO7427
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #4808/01 3280434
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 240434Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4055
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNS/COMSOCPAC HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 004808

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, PM, AND EAP/MTS
USPACOM ALSO FOR FPA HUSO AND J5
SECDEF/OSD/ISA/AP (TOOLAN/BAILEY)
JOINT STAFF/J5 (WILKES/ROBINSON/CLEMMONS)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/22/2016
TAGS: MARR MOPS MCAP PREL PGOV RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH PHILIPPINE ARMED FORCES CHIEF OF STAFF

REF: A. MANILA 3095

¶B. MANILA 4742

Classified By: (U) Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of
Staff General Esperon is pleased with the success thus far of
ongoing counterterrorism operations on the island of Jolo.
He intends to enforce military discipline by court-martialing
officers accused of involvement in the aborted February 2006
coup attempt. Esperon is determined to press on with defense
reform after the resignation of Secretary of National Defense
Cruz. A strong Chief of Staff, Esperon is providing the
Philippine military the continuity and leadership it needs as
President Arroyo weighs who will replace the outgoing Avelino
Cruz as the next Secretary of National Defense. END SUMMARY.

PLEASED WITH COUNTERTERRORISM EFFORT ON JOLO
——————————————–

¶2. (C) Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff
General Hermogenes Esperon told Ambassador November 22 in a
one-on-one meeting that he is pleased with the success thus
far of “Operation Ultimatum,” the Philippine military’s
ongoing effort to capture or kill the senior Abu Sayyaf Group
and Jemaah Islamiyah leadership on the southern Mindanao
island of Jolo. (To date, the AFP has suffered 22 killed and
103 wounded in the operation, which began on August 1.)
Esperon said he is intent on “keeping everyone focused” on
the mission. Noting the Ambassador’s recent trip with five
other ambassadors to the neighboring island of Basilan (ref
B), the site of combined U.S.-AFP operations against Abu
Sayyaf terrorists in 2002, Esperon emphasized the importance
of sustained engagement and economic development in combating
terrorism. “It is not a simple matter of declaring victory
and walking away,” he said.

INTENT TO ENFORCE MILITARY DISCIPLINE
————————————-

¶3. (C) Asked about his November 20 decision to court-martial
30 of the 38 Army and Marine officers implicated in the
February 2006 coup attempt against the Arroyo government,
Esperon emphasized he intended to enforce military
discipline. “I’m not interested in politics, but only in
doing my job, which does not mean making everyone happy,” he
said, adding that he intended to meet privately with Senator
Biazon, a prominent critic of the court-martial decision.
Esperon agreed with Ambassador on the need to reinforce in
the AFP respect for the rule of law and civilian control of
the military, and welcomed her offer to make these points in
upcoming speeches to the Philippine Air Force and Philippine
Military Academy.

¶4. (C) Esperon stated he had liked working with outgoing
Secretary of National Defense Cruz. “I’ll hate to see him

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go,” he said, but noted ruefully that Cruz had no choice but
to resign after going public with his opposition to
administration plans to amend the Philippine constitution.
Prodded by the Ambassador about whether he would be able to
stand up to President Arroyo, who is known for her determined
ways and fiery temper, Esperon said he had learned from his
tenure as chief of the Presidential Security Guard to wait
for the right moment to broach issues with the President.
Noting that President Arroyo intended for the short-term to
retain the Defense portfolio herself, Esperon said, tongue in
cheek, that it was a great honor — but also “perilous” — to
report directly to the Commander-in-Chief.

DETERMINATION “NOT TO LOSE” DEFENSE REFORM
——————————————

¶5. (C) Esperon said he is determined “not to lose”
Philippine Defense Reform, and was emphatic on the need to
procure equipment for the battalion retraining program
(Battalions of Excellence). Once troops in the field saw the
system worked, they would buy into the reform effort. Eager
to move forward, Esperon said he wanted to use Foreign
Military Sales to get the equipment his soldiers needed:
“We’ve got the warehouses; we know what we want; let’s make

MANILA 00004808 002 OF 002

it happen.” He said he had cut off his J6 (Communications)
staff when they tried to brief him on an expanded wish list.
“I told them ‘Stop right there’; we don’t need fancy stuff,
but command and control gear for the fight we’re in,” Esperon
said. He welcomed Ambassador’s suggestion that direct
consultations between JUSMAG and his staff could determine
the most rapid way to procure equipment.

EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS UNDERMINE RULE OF LAW
———————————————

¶6. (C) Unprompted, Esperon raised the subject of
extra-judicial killings. He noted that in a recent speech on
the issue to a group of constitutional lawyers he had made
the points that extra-judicial killings undermine respect for
the rule of law and authority, and attack the very
foundations of the military code of justice. Ambassador
stressed that these were important points and urged him to
continue emphasizing this message and to investigate all
allegations of extra-judicial action.

COMMENT
——-

¶7. (C) After the departure of Secretary Cruz on November 30,
Esperon will be a steady hand on the tiller of the AFP. His
commitment to counterterrorism and defense reform should help
see the military through the transition period to a new
Secretary of National Defense and ensure that both programs,

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in which the United States has strong interest, continue.
His stance on military discipline is particularly refreshing
in a country where the only punishment of previous coup
plotters was 30 pushups. We will continue to engage Esperon
on the need to pursue aggressively all allegations of
extra-judicial killing by AFP personnel.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm
KENNEY

   

 

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