Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/12/09MANILA2593.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2593
2009-12-18 07:08
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO9844
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2593/01 3520708
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 180708Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6085
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002593

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KISL KPAO RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S GOODWILL VISIT TO BAGUIO CITY AND LA TRINIDAD MUNICIPALITY

REF: MANILA 2448 (CLAN VIOLENCE)

¶1. SUMMARY. In the wake of devastating mudslides in the Cordillera
Administrative Region (CAR), the Ambassador travelled to Baguio City
December 3 and 4 for a goodwill visit and to host the annual holiday
reception. On December 3, the Ambassador announced USG plans to
provide an additional $10 million in food aid to the Philippines,
highlighting the cooperation between USAID, the World Food Program
(WFP) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in
the relief operations in the CAR. At the Philippine Military
Academy (PMA) the Ambassador met with the Superintendent, Vice
Admiral Calderon, and delivered a keynote address on leadership,
peace, security, and military cooperation to the cadets. In the
evening the Ambassador hosted a holiday reception featuring
businesspeople, university officials, PMA officers and cadets,
journalists, government officials, WFP officials, Peace Corps
volunteers and other guests from civil society. On December 4, the
Ambassador conveyed holiday greetings over the airwaves as a guest
on a live radio talk show hosted by Bombo Radyo Philippines. The
Ambassador concluded her trip with a visit o disaster-affected
areas in La Trinidad Municiplity along with the Governor of Benguet
Province The Ambassador met with displaced residents andparticipated in the handover of relief goods provided with USG
logistical support. END SUMMARY.

————————————-
BAGUIO: PLANNED CITY IN THE MOUNTAINS
————————————-

¶2. Located along the ridges of Cordillera Central, Baguio was
designed by American urban planner and architect Daniel Burnham and
marked its centennial as a chartered city this year. Baguio City
continues to grow and remains an important economic and educational
hub for the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). Baguio City
attracts a constant flow of travelers year-round because of its
temperate climate and mountain scenery and is also an industrial
base with high tech American firms such as Moog Controls and Texas
Instruments operating in the Baguio City Economic Zone (BCEZ). Home
to the PMA and eight other major universities, Baguio City is also a
driving force in higher education in the Philippines.
¶3. Baguio’s status as a regional hub in a remote region makes it an
opportune setting for the U.S. Mission to do outreach in a variety
of forms. Peace Corps volunteers contribute in the areas of
education, youth development and environment protection. There are
American Corners in the Baguio City Public Library and St. Louis
University. USAID has supported several local health and
environmental initiatives. The American Citizen Services Unit of the
Consular Section makes quarterly visits to Baguio City to provide
services to the significant number of American Citizens residing in
the city and neighboring provinces.

——————————————— ———
RELIEF OPERATIONS FOR VICTIMS OF TYPHOON PARMA ONGOING
——————————————— ———

¶4. La Trinidad Municipality borders Baguio City and was hit hard by
Typhoon Parma in October 2009. Mudslides devastated entire
settlements on the slopes of the foothills surrounding the town.
The mountainous terrain poses a serious challenge to reconstruction
efforts. Destroyed roads, collapsed bridges, and widespread
flooding have resulted in significant logistical constraints for the
Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and humanitarian
organizations. In recognition of the collaborative efforts by the
USG and local partners, the Ambassador visited a logistics center
established through a grant from USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster
Assistance (OFDA). The center is jointly operated by the World Food
Program (WFP), the Department of Social Welfare and Development
(DSWD) and the National Disaster Coordinating Council. The WFP
received $1 million from OFDA to provide logistics support in the
distribution of relief goods and much needed supplies to populations
affected by Tropical Storm Ketsana and Typhoon Parma. This has
enabled the GRP and humanitarian agencies to provide assistance to
more than 2 million people. The center is stocked with relief goods
donated by the GRP, foreign governments, international
organizations, local foundations, the private sector and
individuals. The tour ended with an announcement by the Ambassador
of $10 million in additional food aid as part of the USG assistance
to disaster-affected communities in the Philippines.

¶5. Little Kibungan, a vegetable farming community, was hit by a
landslide that killed 77 people (74 residents and 3 rescue workers)
on October 8, 2009. The landslide destroyed a large area of
cultivable land and buried much of the community under five to six
meters of mud. The Ambassador viewed the devastation resulting from
the landslide, met with displaced survivors, and participated in the
handover of relief goods provided with USG-funded transportation and
logistics. She was joined by Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan, who
gave a detailed account of the calamity, described the widespread
damage throughout the province, and predicted that recovery efforts
will take some time, as many remote communities in mountainous areas
have been cut off. The Ambassador spoke with the press, offering

MANILA 00002593 002 OF 002

her condolences to the families who lost loved ones and words of
support for those displaced and now homeless. The visit concluded
with a stop at Strawberry Farm to visit displaced persons living in
a tent city evacuation center. The Ambassador greeted survivors and
representatives from WFP and DSWD who carried out relief operations.
At the invitation of Mayor Artemio Galwan of La Trinidad, the
Ambassador participated in a handover of rice and other foodstuffs
provided with USG logistical support.

——————————
PMA CADETS PREPARE FOR SERVICE
——————————

¶6. The PMA is the top training academy for future officers of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The coed institution’s
curriculum is patterned after West Point’s and offers specialized
training to all three branches of the AFP. The Ambassador met with
the Superintendent, Vice Admiral Leonardo C. Calderon Jr., who
condemned the recent massacre in Maguindanao (reftel) in the
strongest terms. Discussing the upcoming 2010 Presidential
elections, Calderon stated that it was imperative for the Commission
on Elections (COMELEC) to function in a safe and transparent
environment and the military establishment should remain neutral.
He highlighted PMA’s efforts to encourage the cadets to exercise
their own right to vote. Calderon added that applications for PMA
were up this year and was optimistic that his recruitment strategy
would continue to ensure a diverse cadet corps.

¶7. After her meeting with the Superintendent, the Ambassador
addressed over 1,000 cadets. The Ambassador discussed the USG focus
on the “3-Ds” — development, diplomacy and defense. She
highlighted President Obama’s speech to the cadets of West Point on
December 1 and underscored the USG commitment to peace and security
in Afghanistan. The Ambassador spoke about the importance of
partnership with government, international organizations and civil
society to foster peace and development in Afghanistan. The
Ambassador reiterated that the U.S. did not want bases in the
Philippines and described the benefits of ongoing military
cooperation. She noted the contributions of the Republic of the
Philippines to UN peacekeeping operations in conflict zones, praised
the cadets as future leaders of the Philippines, and challenged them
to contribute for the good of society.

——————————————— ——–
OUTREACH AT HOLIDAY RECEPTION AND MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES
——————————————— ——–

¶8. The Ambassador addressed both national and local media during
her stay in Baguio. In a taped local television interview and
nationally broadcast live radio interview, the Ambassador emphasized
the close historical relationship between the United States and
Baguio City. She highlighted the USG commitment of $10 million in
food aid, condemned the Maguindano massacre, and called for a
thorough and transparent investigation. On the upcoming 2010
presidential elections, the Ambassador stated that journalists had
an important role to play in disseminating information and
facilitating communication in the public sphere.

¶9. The holiday reception brought together businesspeople,
university officials, PMA officers and cadets, journalists,
government officials, WFP officials, Peace Corps volunteers, local
American citizens, and other guests from civil society. The event
provided an opportunity for Embassy officers to build or further
develop ties with a broad range of contacts from the area. The
Consul General, Economic Counselor, JUSMAG representatives, and
others from the Embassy also were in attendance.

KENNEY

   

 

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