Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/08/09MANILA1650.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA1650
2009-08-04 10:16
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO4058
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1650/01 2161016
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 041016Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4813
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001650

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

STATE PLEASE PASS TO PEACE CORPS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KISL KPAO EAID RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR SHOWCASES U.S. ROLE IN CREATING A PEACEFUL, VIBRANT MINDANAO

REF: 08 Manila 1790

¶1. (U) SUMMARY. The Ambassador traveled July 17-18 to Davao City on
the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, underscoring the
continuing U.S. commitment to the economic and social development of
the region. The trip included the Ambassador’s keynote address at a
conference for graduates of USAID’s Congressional Internship Program
for Young Muslim Leaders (CIPYML) and a discussion on the importance
of human rights with leaders of the Eastern Mindanao Command
(EASTMINCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The
Ambassador also visited a rapidly expanding U.S. business and spoke
with local media. END SUMMARY.

Background: Davao City
—————————————–

¶2. (U) Davao City is located in the southeastern part of Mindanao.
As one of the largest cities in Asia by land area, it covers
2,433.61 km2 and is home to over one million people. Known as the
“fruit basket of the Philippines,” Davao City’s busy international
port exports tropical fruits such as pomelo, mangosteen, coconut,
papaya, pineapple and durian. Its bananas have made the Philippines
one of the world’s top three banana exporters, with half of the
industry production stemming from U.S. companies. Banana and
pineapple growers Dole/Stanfilco and Marsman-Drysdale employ over
36,000 direct and contract hires in Mindanao.

USAID’s Congressional Internship Program for Young Muslim Leaders
——————————————— —-

¶3. (U) The Congressional Internship Program for Young Muslim Youths
(CIPYML) is a joint cooperative program between USAID and the
Philippine House of Representatives designed to bring young Muslims
from Mindanao to serve as interns in the Philippine Congress. From
this experience, they derive leadership and communication skills, as
well as a firm understanding of the mechanics of government. The
Ambassador served as keynote speaker and guest of honor at the first
reunion of CIPYML graduates, reminding the graduates of the great
human and economic potential of Mindanao, and congratulating the
young Muslim leaders for striving to bring positive change to their
communities. The Ambassador highlighted President Obama’s recent
remarks in Ghana, which were echoed in a speech by one CIPYML
alumnus chosen to speak for the group. This alumnus, who now works
for USAID’s Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program, challenged
his fellow alumni to take up the banner of change in their
communities, and to use their newly acquired skills and confidence
to become “agents of peace and development.” The alumnus closed
with a quote from the Ghana speech that had inspired him, saying
“Change in Mindanao will come from partnerships grounded in
individual and mutual responsibility.”

Visit to Eastern Mindanao Command
———————————

¶4. (SBU) The Ambassador met with Major General Raymundo Ferrer,
Commander, Eastern Mindanao Command. EASTMINCOM covers a wide swath
of Mindanao, including areas of Central Mindanao which is the
homeland of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and which also
harbor elements of the Communist New People’s Army (NPA). He shared
his concerns about the ability of the AFP to eliminate the NPA in
his area of responsibility by December 2009. The NPA is a long
running communist insurgency. MGEN Ferrer acknowledged that there
was no viable way to accomplish this task without addressing the
issue of poverty first. He stressed the need for development in the
area and the need to bring in more jobs. The general linked the
idea of development with the resumption of peace talks with the
MILF. According to the general, neither side is winning in the
current situation. The Ambassador also stressed the importance of
human rights and the peace process in a meeting with local military
and police commanders.

USAID Event Emphasizes Projects in Davao City
———————————————

¶5. (U) The Ambassador visited the headquarters of USAID’s Growth
with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program, which is located in Davao,
and commended the group for their accomplishments in promoting good
governance, education, and local government infrastructure programs.
She praised them for being agents of change and peace throughout
Mindanao.

Sutherland Global Service, Expanding U.S. Business
——————————————— —–

¶6. The Ambassador’s visit to Sutherland Global Services facility in
Davao City highlighted the positive economic and social impact
Sutherland and other U.S. businesses are making in the Southern

MANILA 00001650 002 OF 002

Philippines. Sutherland is a recognized leader and innovator in
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). The company has effectively
developed new markets outside of the Metro Manila area, bringing
jobs and investment to regions of the Philippines other firms
traditionally overlooked. Davao City and greater Mindanao had only
marginally benefited from the BPO boom until Sutherland started its
operation in 2008. The Ambassador toured the facility that currently
employs 1,500 Filipinos in well-paying and upwardly-mobile jobs.
These jobs not only consist of basic customer service and support
representatives but also include content and process experts. The
Ambassador spoke with a small group of employees and stressed how
important their jobs were not only to the local economy but also to
strengthening U.S. businesses in the current economic crisis.
Sutherland officials said they were pleased with the quality and
commitment of the local workforce and plan to hire 3,500 additional
workers over the next few years.

(Old and New) Media Outreach
—————————-

¶7. (U) In a number of regional television, radio, and print
interviews conducted during the trip, the Ambassador underscored the
continuing U.S. commitment to fostering peace and economic
development in Mindanao. She pointed out the spectrum of
U.S.-supported programs that go unnoticed by the media but are
essential to creating stability and prosperity in the area. The
Ambassador also met with members of the vibrant Mindanao Bloggers
Community at the American Corner in Ateneo de Davao University to
discuss their roles in representing the young voices of Mindanao.
The group’s founder organized the group of young bloggers, both
Muslim and Christian, from throughout Mindanao to express a true
picture of his homeland’s beauty and diversity. The bloggers work
to dispel the notion that Mindanao is only an impoverished and
conflict-ridden area; blog topics range from regional cuisine, to
employment advice, and to the latest in consumer technology. The
Ambassador commended the group for their organization and for
portraying a more well-rounded Mindanao.

KENNEY

   

 

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