Sep 132014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/09/06MANILA4002.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA4002 2006-09-21 10:47 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHML #4002/01 2641047
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 211047Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3077
INFO RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC//OSD/ISA/AP// IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L MANILA 004002

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2016
TAGS: MOPS MCAP PREL PTER PINS PINR RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH AFP CHIEF OF STAFF ESPERON

REF: A. MANILA 03095

¶B. MANILA 03935

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

¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: General Esperon, the newly appointed Chief
of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, acknowledged
to the Ambassador in a September 18 meeting the damage being
done to the reputation of the Philippines by extra-judicial
killings, and conceded the possibility that overzealous
soldiers might be involved in some of the attacks. Esperon
is pleased with anti-terrorism operations on Jolo and praised
the assistance the U.S. military has provided Philippine
troops. Esperon also believes the time is right for a peace
deal with the MILF, saying that people are tired of the
fighting. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (U) On September 18, Ambassador Kenney had a private
breakfast with General Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr., newly
appointed AFP Chief of Staff. Their discussion ranged over a
number of topics related to the AFP, and included frank
comments by Esperon concerning: extra-judicial killings
(EJKs); the ongoing military operation on the island of Jolo;
and prospects for a peace deal with the MILF.

———————–
Extra-Judicial Killings
———————–

¶3. (C) Esperon himself raised the issue of EJKs. He had
already testified before the Melo Commission – the
presidential commission charged with investigating EJKs. He
understood the USG’s concern about the killings, indicating
that it is a “tough issue” and that he is aware that the
Philippine’s reputation was being harmed. Esperon
acknowledged the possibility of military involvement in EJKs.
Now-retired Major General Palparan’s aggressive leadership
style and public bravado might have been misconstrued by some
overzealous subordinates as license to attack militants.
Esperon does not believe General Palparan personally directed
the killings.

——————————————-
Ongoing Counter-Terrorism Operation in Jolo
——————————————-

¶4. (SBU) Esperon said the Philippine military is doing an
outstanding job in the ongoing operation on the island of
Jolo to capture or kill Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah
leaders. The population of Jolo is not interested in
harboring terrorists, the terrorists are on the run, and the
AFP is “on their trail.” Esperon called the operation “an
infantryman’s war,” but also said it is a “mixed operation”
in which the Philippine Navy plays an essential role.
Esperon reiterated that the fight would continue through
Ramadan, saying that it would be “ridiculous to take a
vacation from the fight against terrorism.”

¶5. (C) Esperon is very pleased with USG assistance in the
Jolo operation, saying he “could not ask for more.” He
stated that U.S. intelligence has been reaching the theatre
of operations in “real time” and has been very beneficial.

¶6. (SBU) Esperon spoke very favorably of the battlefield
utility of UAVs, based on what he observed in Jolo, noting
that the Philippines “needs some.” While interested in
expanding the his helicopter fleet, Esperon said he had no
use for Cobra helicopters (an item being pushed by National
Security Advisor Gonzales), commenting: “they don’t help my
mobility.”

————————
Peace Deal with the MILF
————————

¶7. (SBU) Esperon is optimistic about a peace deal with the
MILF. Whereas a couple years ago people were not ready,
today the “mental terrain seems right.” The population is
sick of the conflict and of the atrocities on both sides.
People want “education and development and are willing to put
aside animosities.” Esperon told the Ambassador that he
himself had devoted much of his professional life to fighting
insurgents and lost his best friend in the fighting.
Speaking of a peace deal, Esperon said, “it’s bigger than me”

and “we must get over any personal resentments.”

—————————————-
Military Sacrifices Should Be Recognized
—————————————-

¶8. (SBU) Esperon agreed with the assessment of Presidential
Executive Secretary and former Defense Secretary Ermita, who
said that the military’s sacrifices in the war on terrorism
were insufficiently recognized. (Note: The Philippines has
lost 16 soldiers and 60 wounded on Jolo since August 1.)
Esperon agreed, noting that “soldiers are losing their lives,
and the Philippines should know.” He said his speech of
September 11 (Ref B) was part of an effort to raise the
profile of the AFP in the eyes of the public.

——–
Comment
——–
¶9. (C) General Esperon is a thoughtful and well-spoken
interlocutor. He is focused on his mission and practical
needs of his troops on the ground. End comment.
KENNEY

   

 

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